There wasn’t chemistry or compatibility, he wasn’t very nice to you, or he left you for someone else. It was never a match, and it likely never will be. I know it’s tempting to remember a relationship as better than it was, especially when you get lonely, but do yourself a favor and don’t try to rekindle a relationship that was never lit in the first place.
You’ll likely get burned. What’s the best case scenario here? Honestly. Did he leave you for someone else and now they’ve split, so you’re popping in to say hello? Can’t say I haven’t been there. But no matter what, if the relationship wasn’t meant to be in the first place, returning to try again will only result in more pain. Don’t pick up that kindling. Don’t attempt to light a match. You’re the one that will go up in flames. You may take him with you, but it’s not worth it.
Be careful not to remember the relationship as better than it was. “I mean, he did buy me flowers once… and he would always get me a glass of water after sex.” I know it’s easy to remember the positive memories after some time passes. What we don’t remember is how he bought us flowers because he was apologizing for something and that actually, he got water for himself and sometimes asked if we wanted some.
Loneliness won’t kill you. Let’s be real — when we text our exes, it’s often because we’d rather not sit with the bite of loneliness. I try to think of my favorite author’s quote when I get lonely; Elizabeth Gilbert said, “When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. But never again use another person’s body or emotions as a scratching post for your own unfulfilled yearnings.”
You’ll quickly be reminded why it ended. When I was a little kid, I LOVED the aquarium. I thought it was the biggest and most beautiful paradise on earth. In college, I went back to the same aquarium and was shocked to find that it was small, dirty, and not nearly as exciting as I remembered. I’ve had the same experiences going back with exes. I remembered them and the relationship as glamorous, but when I put myself back in their presence, I was slapped with a reminder about why it ended. This is exactly what will happen to you.
One interaction could lead to an awkward gray area relationship. I recently had an experience where I reached out to an ex for some solace. Where it got weird was when we kept talking after we spent the night together. He texted me a few weeks later and offered to come help me set up furniture in my new place. Yeah, no. We had already tried to date, and it didn’t work out. I had to close that can of worms I opened because there’s nothing worse than a gray area relationship. I knew from experience that it wouldn’t have just been a casual night of assembling furniture. It’s a slippery slope, so do yourself a favor and don’t go there.
You’ll feel better tomorrow if you reach out to a loving friend instead. Loneliness, nostalgia, and sadness are all totally normal. You can feel sad that the relationship ended without going back to try and start it up again. Instead, gal pals are great during times of wanting to reach out to an ex. Sometimes I even tell myself, “Fine, you can text him, BUT you have to call a girlfriend first.” Usually, I find that my girlfriend talks me out of reaching out to him, or the urge passes on its own. Try it!
Leave room in your life for a new flame. Exes are exes for a reason. If you’re obsessing over them, chasing them, even spending time with them, you’re wasting space in your life that could otherwise be given to a new flame. How are you going to meet Prince (or Princess) Charming when you’re too busy trying to rekindle things with your exes?
Choose character-building over comfort. It is comforting in some ways to be with someone we’ve been with before. I get it. But just because someone feels comfortable doesn’t mean they’re good for us. I mean, alcohol was really comfortable for me for many years, but I turned out to be a raging alcoholic. Choosing character-building over comfort means we (begrudgingly) make choices that leave us as better people. Yes, it’s okay to not be thrilled about it. The payoff is worth it, though. I promise!
Not crawling back to an ex means you get to keep your dignity. I don’t know about you, but when I have a craving to pick up the phone and I somehow manage to distract myself enough to move past it, I feel like a rockstar. I turn on my fabulous lady jams, and I’m feelin’ myself. I’m also free from the self-loathing that may have otherwise crept in had I attempted to make a thing of an old relationship again.
At the end of the day, you’re only human. I’m covered in metaphorical burns. I had to play with fire too many times before I learned what was a good idea and what wasn’t. If you do reach out to a problematic ex (drunk or sober), sleep with him, or attempt to be together again, respond by being gentle with yourself. Dating is hard. We’re just human beings doing the best we can with our tender hearts.
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