If anyone ever had a reason not to get back with an ex, I did. He was the quintessential on-and-off Bad Boyfriend and not only were all my friends painfully aware of this fact, when he dumped me on the same day my father died (think Jessica and Tony birthday sitch x 10), then again after a similar life tragedy, it had finally become clear to me as well. I moved on fast.
Literally days after he’d hit me with yet another, “I can’t do this anymore,” I somehow managed to enter into a relationship with a man who was easygoing and ridiculously sweet, so I hardly had time to mourn. I wouldn’t normally recommend rebounding as a heartbreak cure-all, but in this case it definitely helped remind me that the ex was Not. For. Me. My work was exciting, glamorous and rewarding. I was in my early-to-mid 20s. I had amazing friends. I lived in New York. Things were kind of perfect. I was so much happier without my ex.
That’s when he began to stalk me.
I would have done anything to avoid the horribly painful months of accusations, the moving out, and borderline nervous breakdowns that followed an inevitable reality check that would have been avoided if we’d simply stayed apart in the first place.
It began with emails here and there, MySpace messages and texts. Then the phone calls started rolling in, first on my cell, and then at work. I never answered any of them, and told mutual friends that I did not want to speak to him, that I’d moved on, and please let him know that it was a case closed and I was not remotely interested in any contact whatsoever. Magical words to a man obsessed, I suppose. The mix CDs and flowers started arriving. One day he stood outside my office with signs, a la Say Anything. I rolled my eyes and pulled the blinds down.
I’d love to say that in the end I walked away from all this, but the constant attrition started to get to me. I began dreaming of him, even while I was sleeping in my new lover’s bed. Long story short, the allure of my Bad Boy Gone Good was ultimately too tempting, and after he begged and cajoled and expressed his undying love for me and swore he intended to marry me and on and on, I caved.
And things between us really were better, for a while. We committed to living together, and we were happy to wake up next to one another each morning with a renewed sense of love and hope. But one thing led to another, and in some ways, this time I was the one acting out. It was less self-sabotage and more brimming resentment. After all he’d put me through, why I had I blinded myself to the past and let him convince me to come back? Did I really think things would be so dramatically different?
Why in the hell did I break up with a great new guy to get back together with my ex? I started being awful. He did, too. It became rapidly clear that no matter how much love we had for one other, the fact was we were simply not compatible. And that’s the root of why we broke up in the first place. But I would have done anything to avoid the horribly painful months of accusations, the moving out, and borderline nervous breakdowns that followed an inevitable reality check that would have been avoided if we’d simply stayed apart in the first place.
A wise-ish man once said, “Smart guys break ties,” perhaps the most hilarious way we’ve ever heard the ex conundrum put, but its simplicity speaks volumes. Women have a much harder time exercising this maxim. In addition to the passion and nostalgia that rears its head during any post-breakup grief cycle, our natural tendencies to compromise, bargain and feel in control of the situation further clouds our already hazy judgment. While it’s so tempting to start over with someone that you already know you love, especially when they barrage you like my ex did—though I think too often we also get back with them for little more than a late night text—either way, avoid!
Because to be perfectly honest, I’ve never seen it work out. I do think people change, but it’s almost inevitable that you fall back into the old dynamic. And it makes sense: Isn’t craving old times why we get back with exes in the first place? But that’s also the comfort zone that makes meeting someone new, and ultimately a lot better for you, an impossibility. It was only after I cut ties with my ex, for good this time, that I was able to move on and meet a guy who reinforces the fact that I was meant to be with him instead every single day. Times ten.
Original by Erin Flaherty