I dated my ex for 10 months or three years—it depends on whether or not you count all of the times in between when we broke up and got back together. It wasn’t until after the fifth attempt crashed and burned that it finally hit me—he wasn’t worth going back and forth with anymore. I have a tested theory that if it doesn’t work out the first time, it won’t the second (or any other). Here’s why:
- Excuses will always be nothing more than excuses. The first time we broke up, he claimed that the long distance thing was more than he could bear—and even though I was fully committed no matter the distance, I told him that I understood and that we could walk away friends. Still, when he got out of the Marines and moved home, a meager five-mile distance was too much to handle the second go-round. If he always has an excuse for why things won’t work now, he’ll always have an excuse for why things won’t work six months down the road.
- Pet peeves won’t magically disappear. He would freak out if I didn’t text him back in five seconds but if I didn’t hear from him for five hours then I wasn’t supposed to wonder where he was or what he was doing. That always drove me crazy, so after we started dating for the third time, I thought that if we made an effort to spend more time together then we wouldn’t have to text as much. Crisis avoided, right? Wrong. It was impossible to be together 24/7, so it was impossible for this pet peeve to ever go away.
- Red flags now will be red flags later. I was 19 the first time he picked me up for a date. He shook my dad’s hand but wouldn’t make eye contact with him. I was 21 the fourth time we tried to date when he wouldn’t even come in the house to speak to my family. My mother despised him, my sister always sent me nasty memes about him, and my dad swore that he better not ever run into him in a dark alley. These not-so-subtle red flags should’ve flown all in my face the first time. Period.
- Other women will always catch his eye. I should’ve known that there was another woman on the side the fifth time we broke up because he had this trend of breaking up with me and suddenly finding someone else to date within the next two weeks. Every. Single. Time. When I decided to walk away for the last time, it was on a Monday; by that Friday, one of my best friends saw him with a new girl. We went from a two-week notice to a four-day record. If the guy likes to leave you to find someone new then it’s his playboy hobby that’s not ever going to stop.
- You’ll try to change yourself. Don’t do that. Each time we broke up, I found myself making this mental checklist of the ways that I wasn’t good enough. He always said that I needed to lose weight, so I started living in the gym and running away from any food that was over 150 calories. Eventually, people began pulling me aside and asking if I was bulimic. It’s easy to question where you went wrong in a relationship but don’t compromise your self-confidence just so you can have another go with the guy. It’s just not worth it.
- Other valuable relationships will be overlooked. Whenever we would get back together, I could never get along with my mom. I was always with his family and I never took the time to have coffee with her or ask her about how her day went. She saw right through him, so what little conversations we had turned into arguments where I was defending the biggest mistake of my life. I lost time with my mom—time that could’ve been filled with window shopping, joyriding and lunch dates. My relationship with the woman who gave me life hung in the balance, and that boy was never worth such a risk.
- You’ll forget what the whole point was. Caring for him became more of a routine than a sacrificial love sorta thing. When we would break up and I would think that I was emotionally ready to move on, he would come back and I would fall back into his same old cycle of loving and leaving. In the back of my mind, I always knew it wasn’t going to work but it was like I became obsessed with investing in a pointless relationship—and that’s really stupid.
- Another great guy won’t ever get a chance. I missed out on a lot of great guys during those in between phases of dating my ex. I was too emotionally caught up in the idea that he would come back again to actually go out with another man. One guy was a total sweetheart, a U.S. Airman and a family man, but one dinner date in and I didn’t want anything to do with him for the sheer fact that he wasn’t my ex. My emotions had long overridden my common sense.
- When you do finally move on, you’ll carry some serious baggage. Now, I’m dating the most incredible man on this planet, but boy was it a struggle the first few months. I didn’t know how to handle a guy who would actually let me know where he was on a Saturday. I couldn’t figure out why he enjoyed going to the gun range with my dad and surprising my mom with Starbucks. Honestly, his good heart terrified me. I wouldn’t open up for the longest time because of that, and my boyfriend deserved way better than the uneasy shade I threw his way.