Break Up to Make Up: Why Is It So Hard To Leave and NOT Go Back?

June 8, 2012  | 

Three years ago when I ended my five-year relationship–the longest in my life–I knew it was over. Or so I thought. It took me a year and some months to really end it. I doubled back a couple of times, the relationship walk of shame I like to call it. I went back because it was hard adjusting to single life. I went back because the nights would get especially lonely every once in awhile, but every time I found myself back with my ex, I knew I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. But for a time, I couldn’t stop.

The other day I was scanning a celebrity break up list and noticed a good number of the people on the list had or were already reunited with their exes. Eva Longoria and her young boo, Kobe and Vanessa (I’m confused too), Nicole Scherzinger and Lewis Hamilton; Their reunions beat the speed of a celebrity blog post, which is no easy feat. This made me wonder, does anyone end a long-term relationship and leave it alone cold turkey?

A few weeks ago a close girlfriend shamefully admitted that she’d hooked back up with her scumbag ex. It was like watching a drug addict in the midst of a relapse; she rocked backed and forth, drew out the time before she could tell us–her circle of close friends–what transgression had transpired. After she’d confessed that she backpedaled, she continuously expressed how guilty she felt: “I can’t believe I did it. It won’t happen again…” I was upset with her, and a part of me wanted to shake her to remind her that this man cheated on her, numerous times. I wanted to remind her of his controlling ways and all the ”side chicks” that were blowing up her spot while they were together, but she didn’t need my reminder.  She knew her ex was no good, and she hadn’t forgotten all the wrong he’d done.  She didn’t want him back, or so she’d expressed to us all, and I believed her. I knew what she was doing. I’ve been there, yet it didn’t stop me from shaking my head at her step back.

As we consoled and scolded her, one by one we slowly but surely admitted that we’d been there, a couple of times in some instances. The room quieted down, and I can only imagine that everyone in the room was reliving their shame all over again. I know I was. Then it dawned on me, “Why should I be ashamed?”

The relationship walk of shame isn’t new to anyone. I’m pretty sure I’m not dropping a piece of knowledge on you that you’ve been longing for. Why is it so hard to accept it? Why are we so hard on our friends  and even on ourselves when they’ve gone back to a less-than-worthy ex for a brief moment? Are there people out there who say bye and never look back?

I’m sure someone will have a story about a relationship or person they knew that walked away and never looked back. However, I suspect if I actually spoke to this person, really grilled them, they’d have a rocking back and forth confession moment too.  In all fairness, I’m sure there are relationships out there that end, period. But in my life, all those relationships seem to have happened on television. My mom has done the walk, my siblings have done the walk, countless friends, and of course, myself.

Maybe the walk of shame has to happen for some. Sometimes the walk leads to reconciliation, which is all good if that’s what you want, but many times the shame walk can be helpful in doing the complete opposite. Often it can be closure–a little reminder of why you left in the first place. The shame helps confirm that you shouldn’t have anything to do with that person or that situation, and in the end, the “shame walk” can be the thing you need to keep on walking.

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