Why go back to your ex
So I was going through my readers’ personal mailbox or should I just call it fan mail and I read something from one of my readers. She says…“Hello Maam, I’m 21 and had a break up 5 years ago with my boyfriend who was also my best friend. After that, I tried to move on many times but always when I’m like over him, something always brings me back to him and I get confused all over again. What is it? And what should i do?”
So I replied her saying…Thanks for your question Tolani, It’s refreshing getting something from somebody so young and relatively unsullied by the absolute horror of dating and trying to find “true love” in the modern world. Your question is short (which is cool.) And lacks detail about what your relationship with your ex was actually like (Was it good? Was it awful? Was it all about the sex? Etc. I also don’t know why you broke up or which one of you actually did the breaking up, so I’m going to have to cover a few bases.
Now I decided to write this piece because of her. Rather, what I am going to discuss should help her and whoever is in her kind of dilemma out. I hope this helps.
Now there are a lot of possible reasons why you can find yourself magnetically drawn to your ex (even though all you want is to let him go and move on). Will give you a few reasons.
*The Rejection Boomerang
Here’s a question: What’s the best way to get a dog to come to you? Most people try to call a dog by hunching down, sticking a hand out and saying the dog’s name in a sweet voice, right? And you know what? Sometimes this works (especially if it’s a dog who knows and likes you or if you happen to smell like food). But a lot of times instead of coming to you, a dog will look at you, look at the way you’re facing and then go that way instead of coming to you (even when you start shouting in desperation.)
But to actually get a dog to come to you, dog trainers know that the best way to get a dog to come to you is actually to face away from the dog and call the dog while you’re actually walking away. As you walk away the dog feels an overwhelming need to follow, to not be left alone, to not be “rejected” in some way.
What does this have to do with why she’s drawn to her ex? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. I am not sure how the relationship with her ex ended, but often times the real reason we feel such a desperate attraction and need for our ex is because of what is called the “Rejection Boomerang.” When someone breaks up with you (or when you break up with someone because you feel like they aren’t stepping up in the way you want them to), the feeling of rejection can be absolutely crushing. After all, when somebody breaks up with you (or “makes” you break up with them), they may be trying to say “You’re awesome but we’re just not right for each other.” But in the emotionally devastating stew of a break up, it’s really, really easy for that dark part of your mind to go on a rant saying things like “I’m not good enough for him. There’s something wrong with me. He just wants to sleep with other girls,” etc. etc. Even worse, when you’ve been rejected by someone, it’s very, very easy to put them on a pedestal and take all the “blame” for a breakup on yourself.
All of which causes you to “boomerang” back towards your ex because subconsciously you know that if you can get him to want you again and commit to you again, it means you’re valuable and attractive and worth something in a way you just don’t feel right now. Of course if you do get him back, a lot of the attraction you feel towards him would fade after a short while. Once you know you can have him back, it’s really easy to forget why you wanted him back in the first place.
*Intensity Addiction (Drama Rama)
I see this one all the time. The couple who’s very obviously awful for each other but just won’t break up no matter what. They get in fights at parties. They have really dramatic conversations in public or on social media. They break up and get back together and break up and get back together and have awesome make up sex that leaves them both giddy and sore and walking like pirates.
This kind of relationship works really well for a Telenovela but makes for a horrible relationship in the long term. Passion in a relationship is a wonderful (and sexy) thing, but there’s such a thing as good passion and bad passion. And fighting and dragging each other over the coals is definitely the bad kind.
If you had a “high intensity” relationship with your ex, you could be mentally and even physically addicted to that drama or, worse yet, you could fall into the trap of thinking anything you have with another guy isn’t “love” unless it involves constant rafter. Either way, the intensity of a volatile relationship can pretty easily be mistaken for connection and love when it’s really nothing of the kind.
*What Does “Love” Mean To Your Subconscious Mind?
This kind rolls naturally from intensity addiction, but it could be that your ex gave you something your unconscious mind “thinks” is love even though it isn’t true romantic (and adult) love at all.
This is a complicated topic that would take a gazillion words to really unpack, but the short version is that what we personally define as “Love” is established in our minds and our hearts when we were kids and it’s very easy for our little minds to pollute what “Love” is and what it means to “Be loved” with a pulsing vicious cloud of messed up emotions based on the damage and personalities of your parents.
*Maybe You Guys Are Good For Each Other?
Again, I don’t know the details of why she broke up, but it is certainly possible that she was drawn to him because there’s something good and powerful there. But from the tone of her question, I found it pretty doubtful. So here’s what you should do…
Step 1: Figure Out The Real Reason You Broke Up With Him (Or He Broke Up With You)
This can actually be harder than you think. It’s human nature to “soften the blow” during a breakup, so the reason you were told it was over isn’t a great barometer. Instead, you need to really take the time to think back and remember the bad days of your relationship. What did it feel like? What was causing you to be unhappy enough to want out?
You may want to ask some of your friends to weigh in on this and remind you of how bad things got.
I recommend actually writing down on a pad of paper or your laptop in detail exactly why your relationship had to end.
Step 2: What Emotions Do You Feel When You Think Of Your Ex?
*You say you’re drawn to him, but what does that mean?
*Does thinking about him make you feel happy? Or does it make you feel a low and horrible ache?
*When you think of him, do you feel like you “miss” him for who he is, or are you just experiencing pain because he didn’t want you or didn’t step up to be the man you wanted him to be?
Step 3: Open Up Or Find Closure
Finally, you need to make a conscious choice about whether you want this man in your life or not. Right now, you’re letting your emotions drive and sabotage good relationships you could have with another man. You need to sit down, work through your emotions and thoughts around this relationship and make a choice about whether this is a guy who’s good for you and could have a great relationship with you or if you’re just holding on for some of the negative reasons above.
If you decide you want to give it another shot with him, that’s great. But do so with your eyes open and knowing why you broke up in the first place.
If you decide he’s toxic to you in some way, it’s time to put these feelings to bed. That means doing the work to understand why you are drawn to him and setting up systems in your life to help you come back to rationality when you feel compelled to be with him. (One great way to do this is to write yourself a letter explaining all the reasons you shouldn’t be with him and explaining why you feel drawn to him even though he’s bad for you. When you feel like you want him, read the letter. A lot.) Trust me, it works.
If you decide you’re done playing this game you need to go “No Contact” with this guy for at least a year. Ok? Got it?
To your happiness. Cheers.