My article about what it looks like when your ex wants you back really hit a nerve. I got quite a few emails from you lovely folks, many of which had a common theme.
Lots of the messages went something like this:
My ex is doing all of the things that you described in your article but they lied, disappeared and/or cheated on me but they’re still contacting me every day. Why are they doing this? Do I still have a chance with them? Even though they did a lot of terrible things, I still want them back.
I was astonished that so many of you were going through really similar situations. Since I write about breakups and lots of my work centers around heartbreak— I wanted to follow that piece up with an exploration of whether or not you should actually get back together with someone, since so many of you are obviously struggling with missing your ex but it’s really time to call it a day and move on.
You might still love them, but even if you got them back, it’s not necessarily true that you would be happy even if you succeeded.
So why do people do this anyway?
That’s because a breakup causes us to reel. We want back what we lost when things were good. Even in spite of our exe’s major transgressions.
So we cling to the hope, any shred of contact, any sign that they might be still interested.
Even when it would be terrible for us in the long run if we actually DID succeed in rekindling our romance.
So when should you cut off your efforts to get your ex back and refocus on getting over them?
- They betrayed you.
- They lied to you (not the little, white lies meant to spare your feelings).
- They took the coward’s way out and disappeared on you without telling you the relationship was over.
- They have serious problems with something inherent about you or vice versa.
- You have seriously differing life goals.
- Lack of mutual respect for each other.
What do you do if you see yourself in this list and can’t shake the urge to keep striving to get them back?
Think about your standards.
To quite a few of the emails I received, I wrote back, simply:
Raise. Your. Standards.
If you take the time to create actual guidelines about what you want in your life— you’ll elevate yourself above dealing with the same bad situations over and over. You’ll avoid selling yourself short and feeling taken advantage of. You’ll cut out the b.s. that keeps you stuck and miserable. You’ll call it a day on bad relationships sooner. You’ll even end up with nicer furniture.
But this can only happen if you decide what you will and won’t allow, then relentlessly cut out the wrong people and bad situations to kick off the process.
When it comes to your ex, this means that the 7 situations I described above are total deal breakers. That means that when one of these things happens and violates your standards, it’s over. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. They have shown you who they are and what your relationship means to them and now it’s time to show them the door.
There are several billion, yes BILLION people out there who you could try a relationship with. Some of them might even be great. This particular person who sawed through your heart like a crazed lumberjack on a meth bender might NOT be the last man or woman on Earth. You might love them dearly, and I don’t discount that. It hurts like hell, I know.
By trying to win them back when they’re wrong for you, you’re staying stuck on this one particular opportunity instead of exploring your options. There is no reason to keep putting all of your eggs in this particular rotten, leaky basket.
Realize that love has limitations.
Another common thread in the emails I received was that people would explain their terrible nightmare situation and then they would say, “but I still love them.”
You should never, ever use the fact that you have the most tender feelings in the world for someone to whitewash the cold, hard facts about your relationship.
If your relationship is bad news, it doesn’t matter if you think this was the greatest, most special love the world has ever known, you should STILL stay away from them.
And if you stay away long enough, you’ll gain perspective, remember your value and realize that even though you might love them, you two just aren’t meant to continue your journey together.
“But I love them” makes me cringe. To this I say, “So what?” Lots of people love hard drugs, but that isn’t exactly healthy either.
Your effort would be better spent gaining confidence, moving on and finding someone else. You might really love your ex, but you can fall in love with someone else. But only if you raise your standards, stop selling yourself short and move on from any situation or person who can’t or won’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated.