So I’ve been watching quite a bit of New Girl recently. It is supremely watchable. The first season has been utterly charming. Every one of the several people I’ve proudly told this to says it gets way worse, real quick.
Guess I’ll have to keep the bender going.
Pretty much once an episode, in prime How I Met Your Mother/every friend group comedy series fashion, the gang invents a quirkier way to describe something relatable. One of the more literal instances of this is “backsliding.” That is, getting back together with an ex who you should absolutely not be trying to-make-it-work-this-time with. Which, more often than not and certainly in the cases of Nick Miller and Jessica Day, is redundant.
Things fall apart and are resolved altogether too cleanly because it’s a delightful sitcom with clear intentions, but the lesson is very applicable to real life as well. Backsliding is almost always a bad idea, here’s why:
- You broke up for a reason. Probably a very legitimate reason. This is far and away the most important rule, and an easy one to disregard.
- The word “again.” You will have to use this word. “Oh, I’m seeing [blank] again,” can only sound defeated, desperate or cautious. You don’t want to be any of those.
- Kissing. You get used to how some else kisses. It seems like the norm. You get into a rut. Once you break up and hopefully start kissing other people, it will seem strange at first, but at some point you’ll realize that there’s a pretty standard method. People have a cruise control for one-off deals. When you get back together with your ex, you will try to combine the weird couple-y way with the new, nothing-fancy way. This will be off-putting. Don’t be off-putting.
- Justification. Even if no one asks, or does so out of obligation, you will end up having to justify yourself. You will say things like “Well, we never really ‘dated dated’ before so…” “We are at better places in our lives,” and “It was just so easy.” Saying these things will convince no one, most importantly you, that this is a good idea. If you had no qualms before you opened your mouth, you will have them immediately once you shut it.
- Nothing Has Probably Changed. I mean, unless you broke up through some star-crossed mishap forty years ago, and through the unifying power of love and other whimsy you’ve found each other again, you are probably not the fundamentally incompatible people you were like last year. Refer to #1.
Do RomSitComs inform life, or does life inform RomSitComs? It’s impossible to say. The truth is that, adorable step in your march towards each other, Nick shouldn’t have gotten back together with the It’s Always Sunny Waitress and Jess shouldn’t have cuckolded Justin Long’s indie girlfriend. Retracing your steps can be comforting, informative, and contextualizing, but it’s easy to get stuck clearing the path that led you away all over again.
Or whatever fuck it, just take the Vaselines’ advice on the matter to heart and “do it, do it again.”
After all, it’ll be really nice this time: you’re both in a different place.