I don’t know quite what it is that makes us feel like someone has changed. There is the kind of unwavering hope that, when someone comes back into our lives after some time and tries to promise and convince you they have changed, somehow we just accept and believe it. Somewhere deep down we know it’s not actually true, but why do we keep telling ourselves otherwise?
This old flame of mine decided to come back to me recently, and he gave me the spiel: “I want you, I want to be with you, I’ve changed, I will move anywhere for you, I’m not the same person I was back then and let me prove it to you!” I knew it wasn’t true. I knew he was just saying that to get me into bed that night, and for some reason, that didn’t matter.
There are three phases of denial I have for this kind of person:
First, the Rational phase: the kind where you say, “I know you’re lying to both me and yourself.”
Second, the Hopeful phase: where you give them the benefit of the doubt, because “maybe he really has changed?”
And thirdly, the Reality phase: where you berate yourself and regret trusting them, because ‘no, he hasn’t changed and you are going to get hurt again, you idiot.’
The first phase is the where you put up the fight, you tell them to “piss off and you’re a dick and you hurt me, and now you are too late because I am moving on with my life!” If you’re lucky, you actually get to say this to the person and you get this wonderful closure because it’s all the hurt and anger you have pent up over this person for months and months. You know that what they are saying is all bull crap because they are feeling alone, maybe they just got dumped or things aren’t going well in their life. None of it really matters, because, after what they did, how could you rationally go back to them?
The second phase is where you weaken, this is where they want to get to you. Where they say the things they remember about you to prove they care for you. The sweet things they know you want to hear, because simply telling you that they missed you was not enough. They “miss the way you look in the morning, the freckle on your neck, and the way you tuck your hair behind your ear…” You get it. They get you when you are exhausted of fighting with them, telling them they hurt you isn’t enough. It’s that exact moment when you have ranted at them for 10 minutes and you stop to breath out and they just gently touch your hand and say quietly that they are sorry. You’re tired, and you look them in the eyes and somehow you remember the times they were genuinely nice to you and you want that again, and you tell yourself, “this is the last time I’m going back.”
And then comes the reality — this phase is when the fight is over, you may be back together for a day, maybe a week or a month and suddenly they have gone back to old habits. It might just be something small like they stopped texting you again, or they are bailing on plans. But they have you back now, they have you back under their thumb and they know they can win you over with as little as a winky face text on a Friday night so why bother with the wooing and the proving it to you? And all that fight, all that front you put up was for nothing. You know they are not going to change, they are not going to turn around and be your Noah Calhoun and write you 365 letters to prove their love for you, because that just isn’t reality.
Now, I’m not saying that us as humans are not capable of change, this does not apply to everyone and every guy or girl who has once screwed you over, but going back to an ex very rarely works out like it does in the movies. There was a reason you broke up in the first place, you need to remember how and why they broke your heart. Because only if you can remember, that’s when you are ready to make an informed decision if you want to go back down that rabbit hole.