We’ve all done it. The temptation is there, the circumstances are right, and you’re sincerely weighing the pros and cons of getting back together with an ex. And while this may seem like the greatest idea since turning Reese’s Cups into a cereal, you should probably avoid it. Here, the six most pressing reasons why.
1. You broke up for a reason.
It’s so easy, even just a few weeks out of a serious split, to look back on your relationship and see nothing but gumdrop romance and chocolate-covered compatibility. But this nostalgia is likely false — or, if you actually did have a lot of stuff worth smiling about, your fickle mind is conveniently ignoring all of the stuff that made you two end this thing in the first place. Who wants to wistfully reflect on memories of cheating or constant arguments when they’re walking pensively through a park? No one. You’re likely to want to erase that stuff from your mind, à la Eternal Sunshine, and only think about the time they kissed you on the nose when it was snowing. But let’s not be so hasty as to forget how much of your time together was spent arguing about tedious, unimportant things, or insulting each other, or sleeping with someone else. If you broke up, don’t do the you of a short time ago a disservice and completely forget why it happened. You should be aware of all the facets of your now-over relationship, not just the awesome ones.
2. You are just going to break up again.
I know that we all like to believe that we are the miraculous exception to the rules about love and dating, but the truth is, you’re probably just going to break up again. We all know that tragic couple who is constantly having some Maury-esque fight, vowing never to speak to each other again, sleeping together a week later, and putting that relationship right back up on Facebook the next day. You know that feeling when you see pictures of them back together for the fourth time this year and you’re just like, “Ugh. Please tell me they’re using protection, no child needs to be a part of this.”? Yeah, no one wants to be that guy. It’s painful to see people who cannot accept that they are simply not meant to be, no matter how thrilling their Rihanna/Eminem “Love the Way You Lie” romance is. And speaking personally, having been in one of those “let’s break up to make up six times this summer” relationships, I can safely say that looking back on that crap is nothing short of humiliating. Save yourself while you can.
3. It’s only appealing because it’s familiar.
I’m not saying there were no other qualities in your ex that you loved, or simply “can’t find in another human being, ever ever ever,” but let’s not pretend like a huge part of the appeal is familiarity. You already know what the other one likes, what they think, and generally who they are as a person. You get to have that awesome “reunited-and-it-feels-so-good” makeup sex, followed by however long your renewed relationship lasts’-worth of being totally comfortable with them. You get to jump into everything feet-first and not have to blindly feel your way through the sometimes-awkward, sometimes-awesome getting to know each other process. Who isn’t at least a little temped by the convenience, the familiarity, and the relatively low level of effort? We can all be lazy, romantically speaking. But don’t get yourself sucked into the idea that just because something is well-known means that it’s inherently better than the other options. After all, the butterflies of meeting someone new are pretty awesome, too.
4. The jealousy.
It’s an uncomfortable reality that, when you get back together with someone after a break of just about any length, chances are good that they dipped their wick/were wick-dipped in the time that you two weren’t hanging out. Maybe they went out on a date or two; maybe they had a decent-sized affair, maybe they just had a drunken night with some rando after a night of whiskey shots and dancing to that mind-numbing “We Are Young” song. In any case, they probably did something, and it’s 100 percent none of your business. You weren’t together, and therefore you’re not allowed to ask — and, beyond that, not allowed to care. If they slept with one of their friends while trying to forget you, you just have to suck it up and deal with it, because you weren’t an item at that point. Does that sound like fun? If you say yes, you’re a liar, as it is amongst the least fun things in the world. Get ready for an endless spiral of jealousy, suspicion, and screamed choruses of “IT’S NOT LIKE I EVEN CARE.” You will turn into a warped, hunch-backed, green-eyed monster, and you will not like yourself.
5. The two of you probably haven’t changed.
Maybe you left that relationship and did a complete 180. You got a makeover, you let go of your crippling resentment towards your parents, you started cleaning your apartment and eating well, and you learned to have more fun and be less stressed over the little stuff. Maybe you’re ready to walk back into that relationship with the proud, upright stance of a Real Adult and overcome all of the petty problems you succumbed to during your time together. Maybe… but probably not. You, along with your ex, are probably largely the same person, and all too ready to fall back into the emotional quicksand that was your previous relationship. The same arguments, the same personal flaws, the same fundamental incompatibility — they’re all likely waiting for the two of you like spring-loaded bear traps, ready to drag you back into the exact same breakup you already went through. Then you risk becoming the couple from number two, and frankly, no one deserves that fate.
6. There are literally billions of other people on this planet.
As your mother might cheerfully remind you after a particularly gut-wrenching breakup, there are other fish in the sea. While it may seem as though the entire world has been trimmed down into its fundamental You and Your Ex, the truth is that there are so many people out there with whom to create an entirely new storyline, and perhaps eventually to go through a breakup with, too. And while it may seem daunting, to have to find someone with whom to start all over again and possibly end up crashing and burning like before, it also holds so much hope. There are uncharted paths of people with whom you don’t necessarily fight over everything, with whom things just click, with whom you can just be yourself and possibly not have to deal with a breakup of any kind. And even if you don’t meet the person of your dreams, at least you tried. You tried, and it didn’t involve sulking back to your ex for what you already know doesn’t work.