Most people who have gotten back with an ex can tell you a long, detailed, drawn-out story of how they get back together, why they got back together, all the grand plans they had of doing things the right way this time around, and ultimately realizing that they’re still two people who aren’t right for each other. But truly, no matter their particular story or the exact reasons they worked/didn’t work and the detailed ways they hurt each other, all getting-back-with-the-ex stories sound pretty much the same. That’s because our brain goes through a series of steps when considering re-making the same old mistake. There’s a lot of deliberating, justifying, punishing him, and punishing yourself. Sometimes getting back with an ex works but that’s an exception to the rule. Here are the many stages of getting back with an ex.
Complaining to friends
He reaches out and won’t stop bothering you. You start to complain to your friends about it—a lot. Most of the time you see them, you tell them about the recent annoying messages the ex has been sending. You’re re-hashing the breakup and the relationship, all over again.
Engaging in the text fights
You engage in the conversation with the ex. At first, you tell him to just go away, go away, go away. But finally, he says the right thing, and you bite the bait. You re-open the conversation of your relationship.
Realizing you actually care
Ultimately you realize that the reason you’ve been talking to friends about his apparently “annoying” texts and the reason you’ve been responding to his texts is you still miss him. You aren’t over it. If you were, you would have just blocked him. (The reality is you probably just didn’t do the work to get over it).
Asking everyone’s opinion
So now you’ve opened that door and are thinking could we try again? And now you’re asking everyone’s opinions. Do they think you should? Did they like him? What did they like about him? What didn’t they like? Do they think it could work?
Talking to someone who got back with an ex
You seek out women who have gotten back with an ex. In fact, you begin narrowing down the people you talk to and explicitly talk to women who are back with an ex. You are basically trying to prove to yourself that it can work, by surrounding yourself with women who made it work with an ex.
Taking stock of your own feelings
You ultimately realize the only person whose feelings matter is you. You quiet all the opinions of others and ask yourself what do I want. You realize you miss the ex and want to see if this has another chance. You decide you’d be strong enough to handle the pain…again…if it didn’t work out.
Having the ex recount his mistakes
Before you can even consider getting back with the ex, you want him to essentially write you an essay on what he did wrong. You want to make sure he is clear on his mistakes, so he doesn’t repeat them.
Acknowledging your own mistakes
You are humbled when he makes you also recount your mistakes—you didn’t really think you’d have to do that. But, you do.
Laying out new ground rules
Once you’ve both talked about what you did wrong last time, you lay out new ground rules. You discuss how things will be different this time. You make a deal. Now, you feel good trying this again because you all promise to be on your best behavior.
Agreeing to take it slow
You agree to not dive back into things. Just because you were living together and very seriously involved before your breakup doesn’t mean you’re going to pick right back up where you left off. People got hurt. You need to ease into this.
Not taking it slow
Okay so you forget your deal to take things slowly and dive back in. You’re basically living together again within the month. It’s hard to keep a distance with someone with whom you were once so close.
Initial great behavior
At first, everyone is on their best behavior. They have all the new rules fresh in their mind. They really want a second chance at this. They’re making a conscious effort to be different.
A retreat into old habits
Whoops. People begin to slip back into old, bad habits. It’s like muscle memory. You try to ignore that he’s doing it. He tries to ignore that you’re doing it. You tell yourself it’s not the same I’m being too critical.
A fight about old habits
Alright you admit that you’re both being sh*tty again. The relationship looks exactly the way it did before the first time you broke up.
Another failed attempt at good behavior
You agree that picking up new habits is tough and change takes time. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourselves. You’ll keep working on this. Aaaand then ultimately you both completely resort to your old habits because the reality is that if it didn’t work the first time, it probably wasn’t meant to be.