With the stress and the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people are reaching out to their exes for comfort, for connection and something more.
But is it ever a good idea to get back with your ex? If you’re thinking of trying to get your ex back — or reaching out to them again — then you need to be able to answer these 5 questions first.
- Why we look to our past relationships when times are hard
- When an old relationship is better left in the past… and when it’s worth trying again
- Why it’s so hard to make a relationship with your ex work a second time
- How to avoid repeating old mistakes and reliving your old break-up
- Why your ex might be right for you NOW
… and so much more.
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Hey everyone, Harris O’Malley from doctornerdlove.com, brought to you by my generous patrons at patreon.com/drnerdlove. Recently, there’s been an interesting phenomena going on. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself:
There’s been a surge of folks who are suddenly hearing from their exes. Over the last month and change, people have had their exes texting, hitting ‘em up on WhatsApp or sliding back into their DMs, apparently out of the clear blue sky.
And it’s not just thirsty dudes hoping to score some quarantine rebound sex. This crosses all lines, gender, sexuality, even people who got dumped and people who did the dumping.
Why is this suddenly happening? Well… blame it on the pandemic.
When you’re in a time of uncertainty and chaos, there’s an almost instinctual desire to reach for the comfort of the known and the familiar. We want something that makes us feel comfortable, something ordinary to cling to in a sea of chaos. And for a lot of folks, especially those who don’t have a romantic partner that they’re holed up with, there’s that desire for connection.
And if we’re being perfectly honest: a lot of folks are bored and looking for ANYTHING to change things up.
Now all of this leads up to a very important question, especially if you’re one of the folks who’s had an ex reach out to them: SHOULD you get back together with your ex?
This feels like the easiest question to answer: no.
And all sarcasm aside: more often than not, that’s the correct answer. In fact, I’ve coached a lot of folks on when and how to get their ex back and most of them came back and said it was a mistake.
Most of the time, your ex is your ex for a reason, and it’s better to leave that relationship in the past.
And y’know, I’ve been there, done that. There was one relationship that fucked me up for years, with someone I tried to get back multiple times and all that happened was that I got my heart broken repeatedly by the same woman because THAT relationship could never work.
There’s the comfort of the known, especially in times of crisis. There’s the desire to try to fix things or to deal with regrets either about things not said or things left undone or simply because you miss them.
But the fact of the matter is that the brain has a way of editing out all the bad parts and making us focus on the highlights — usually from the early days of the relationship — while tinting the whole thing with the nostalgia filter that makes it seem like the bad bits weren’t so bad.
It’s only when we either relive them or talk things through with someone who DOESN’T have those nostalgia goggles that we realize just what we’ve been leaving out of the replay.
All of that is why most of the time, going back is just an invitation to the 12” extended dance remix of your LAST break-up.
But sometimes — not always, but SOMETIMES — exes CAN make it work. And the way you know whether this is a bad idea or a good idea depends on how you answer these 5 questions.
Question #1: Why did you break up in the first place?
Understanding why you broke up is probably the most important part of deciding whether to get back with your ex, ESPECIALLY if you were the one who got dumped.
And it needs to be an HONEST and unflinching look at why, from your ex’s perspective. Not just a self-pitying “oh, she dumped me because she thought she could do better” or “some other guy had more value than me”. The most painful or humiliating answer isn’t automatically the correct one.
A lot of guys can’t do this. Either they have their pet theory and they’re sticking to it, or they got an answer early on… which may not be the REAL answer. Sometimes even the person who ended things may not know the real reason why until years down the line, with time and perspective.
Did you just grow apart? Was there some fundamental conflict that you couldn’t overcome? Did you have a fight and say things that hurt so much that it left a wound that couldn’t be healed?
Understanding why you broke up, what your role in it was — if anything; it may not have involved you at all — is vital. Because that leads us to the next question.
Question #2: Has the reason why you broke up changed?
This is the question that tends to trip a lot of people up. A lot of times, the answer is “no”. This may be because they couldn’t answer question #1 or they didn’t have the right answer. It could be because there hasn’t been enough time after the relationship for them to grow and change — and a lot of folks are MOST eager to get back with their ex in the first year or so after the breakup.
But other times, the answer is “no” because the root of the problem is one that simply can’t change.
If, for example, you broke up because you were too needy and not emotionally able to handle the relationship or one or both of you weren’t in the right place to be dating… that’s one thing. That’s something that you can actually work on and grow past. Or maybe things happened outside the relationship — losing your job, the death of a loved one — that put too much stress on things and you broke up?
Relationships need three things to make it out of the initial stages: the right person, the right place in life and the right time for both parties to be able to grow and maintain it. If those don’t line up, the relationship can’t happen… but COULD happen later down the line.
On the other hand, if the problem is deeper than that — a conflict in, say, religious values, or one of you wanted children and the other didn’t, one of you was non-monogamous and the other wasn’t… those could all still be in effect. Trying to go back under those circumstances just means that it’s going to be second verse, same as the first, a little bit shorter and a whole lot worse.
And sometimes getting the answer to this will require a lot of talking and heart-to-heart discussion with your ex before anything else can happen. I’m good friends with an ex who broke my heart because we actually had a long and involved conversation about what happened, why it happened, and how we both contributed to the break-up. Until we had that conversation, we couldn’t have even been friends.
This is especially true if either (or both) of you cheated. If you can’t discuss it, can’t forgive one another and can’t rebuild or re-earn trust… don’t bother trying to get back together. It’s just going to go badly.
Question #3: Why Now?
This one’s more important than people tend to think. Why are you thinking of getting back together NOW? Why are you reaching out to them — or why are you thinking about taking them back, NOW?
Is there something about them that makes them right for you, in this moment, and you’re willing to give it another chance?
Is it because something external triggered this? Such as, say, you saw that she was dating again and you’re jealous?
Or is it just that you’re lonely, horny or you simply haven’t been able to move on?
You honestly can’t get back with your ex and have it work if you haven’t actually gotten over them yet or given yourself closure on the relationship. You’ll be too afraid of losing them again. You’ll be too needy, too clingy, too hypervigilent of ANY potential warning sign, that you won’t be able to relax and be your authentic self, which will end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and you’ll just end up getting your heart broken a second (or possibly even third) time.
This is a time when you need to be very self aware and honest. It’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’re ready, when you aren’t. In fact, that’s part of the lesson of 500 Days of Summer: Tom still hadn’t processed why things with Summer didn’t work and thought it was just a matter of time instead of an incompatibility that was at the foundation of their relationship.
So, think long and hard on this question before you answer it.
Question #4: Do you miss THEM, or do you miss what they represent?
A lot of folks want to get back with their ex, not because of their ex specifically, but because of what their ex represents to them.
They may want to go back because they’re lonely and it feels easier to try to go back to someone they know than to try to do the work to find a new partner.
They may have a nasty case of Oneitis, where they are convinced that she is The One and only person that they could ever love… making her more of a figurehead or idea than an actual person.
Other times what they want is the validation of dating her — they want the proof that they’re someone who COULD get a girlfriend like that. She’s less of a person and more of a trophy, something that makes HIM look good.
It could be that breaking up with them — especially if it had been a long-term relationship — was a major disruption in your life and you want the comfort of all those familiar patterns. Breaking up with someone you’ve dated for a long time can be like losing a limb; you’ve gotten used to simply having them in your life and now you’re having to relearn life without thefm and it’s HARD.
Or it could even be something as simple and petty as “I don’t want someone else touching ‘my stuff’” or “The things I want most are the things I can’t have”.
But it could well be that, no, the two of you really DID work well together and the break-up was either something that could’ve been avoided or a result of right person, wrong time and place. You know better now, that you’re a better person than you were before and you’re ready to make things work in ways that you weren’t when you dated the first time.
However: If you had — or are STILL having — a hard time getting over them, this is is often why: you’re focused more on what they represent than on them is as a person, and you’re better off dealing with THAT than trying to go back and start things up again
And along those lines, we have THE most important question:
Question #5: Are they right for you, NOW?
One critical mistake that people make — one they aren’t even aware of — when they try to get back to their ex, is that they think of their ex the way that they were before the break-up. Their concept of her is frozen in time like an insect trapped in amber.
The problem is: she wasn’t and isn’t. She’s not the same person she was back then because time moves forward and life goes on, whether we want it to or not.
People change, and the person they are now is NOT the same person that you dated. They’ve had new experiences, gained new perspectives, learned new things about themselves… and while they may SEEM familiar, they’re often profoundly different.
You aren’t in the same place in life that YOU were either. You’ve changed too. And those changes are why you can’t go back to how things were, even as much as you wish that you could. A lot of the desire to get your ex back is out of the desire to have that same relationship before it all fell apart, and that’s impossible. You can’t step into the same river twice, and you can’t date the same person the same way you did before.
The things that brought you together initially aren’t there any more. If you want to try to date your ex again, you have to treat this as a NEW relationship. Trying to slot it into the way things were before is going to be the quintessential square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Old patterns mean old mistakes and partners that simply don’t fit.
And by that same token: that new relationship may not be right for you, especially if you’re hoping it’ll be like the old one, just with a bug fix. If you can’t see your ex as the person they are now, a person that you’ll have to get to know and evaluate differently than the person you USED to know… then it’s a bad idea to try to go back.
But if you have STRONG, POSITIVE answers for all of these questions? Well, I’m still of the opinion that it’s not always a good idea. But if you do have answers to all of these questions and you want to make the attempt: you have a better chance of making things work than you did before.
Just proceed with caution.
And next time… I’ll teach you HOW to get your ex back the RIGHT way.
And one more thing. If you want to learn how to develop the skills to transform your dating life and find that new special someone when you’re ready, then you’ll want to sign up for the beta test of the Dating Accelerator program — an 8 week seminar where I will be teaching you and a limited number of students how to transform your dating life and help you build the social success you’ve always dreamed of.
I’ve extended the sign ups for this because of the pandemic and to give folks a chance to get settled and more secure before deciding whether it’s time for them to invest in themselves, but the sign-up WILL close soon. And because this is the beta test, people who sign up now are getting the beta test prices; the price WILL go up later on, so if you want in, now’s the time.
If you’re ready to take your love life to the next level, be sure to join the NerdLove Academy Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/DrNerdLove for more information.
That’s going to do it for this episode. Thanks for tuning in,
So you heard from me and now I want to hear from you. Have YOU had an ex reach out to you, or are YOU thinking of reaching out to an ex? Share your story in the comments below; I can’t wait to read it.
Meanwhile, if you want to take time during the quarantine to practice your social skills, learn how talk to strangers and turn people you’ve just met into friends and lovers, then check out my book New Game Plus: The Geek’s Guide to Love, Sex and Dating. This is the instruction manual you’ve always wanted, the A to Z guide for learning how to develop and unleash your inner Casanova and find the relationship you’ve always wanted, whether it’s for a lifetime… or just that night. Links to buy it are in the show notes, so go check it out. And if you do check it out, or any of my other books for that matter, be sure to rate and review it on Amazon and Goodreads, it’s a huge help.
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