He broke up with you. You knew it was going to happen. He wasn’t being unfaithful to you and you weren't being faithful to him. The sex was still good but that wasn’t enough to keep the relationship together. You just didn’t seem to be on the same page and you knew he was unhappy. You kept waiting for him to say those dreaded words (“we need to talk”) and, when it happened, you actually felt some sense of relief. You didn’t have a huge fight, nobody threw anything at the other one, there was no nasty name calling, and after the discussion was over, you had one last passionate kiss and a warm hug.
Then you went home and cried like a baby. Or you called your best friend and talked about it. Or you got on Facebook and changed your relationship status, sending the smoke signal to all the eligible bachelors that you were available and ready to start auditioning the next candidate.
Then, two months later, he called you. You were a little bit nervous about answering but you did. “Hi, I’ve been thinking about you a lot, and . . . I was wondering if you’d like to get together sometime . . . you know, just for dinner.” Just for dinner? Did either of you believe that you were going to get together just for dinner? No. By the time the clock struck twelve, you were between the sheets, celebrating a glorious reunion. For two weeks, you were so happy that none of your friends could even stand to be around you.
Then, you started to get that feeling again. It didn’t take him as long this time. “Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea,” he says. He’s not floating that as an idea for discussion; he’s telling you that it was a mistake and he wants out. It’s over . . . again! Why?
There are a few reasons why people try to reconcile relationships.
1. Selective memory. You’ve known people who were normal - they had good traits and bad traits- and then they died. All of a sudden, they were a saint. They were wonderful. They never did anything wrong, never said a bad word about anyone, and there was one time that they actually walked on water! We miss them and, for some people, their memory is very selective. They remember the good parts and forget the bad parts.
We do the same thing with failed relationships. You miss the way she rubbed your back when you were tired, or the way she would giggle when you told a stupid joke, or the way she would cut off the bread crust when she made a sandwich for you. You don't think about all of those irritating habits, the 47 teddy bears on her bed, the way he never cleaned under his fingernails. So you convinced yourself that breaking up was the worst thing ever and you obviously needed to undo that horrible mistake.
2. Fear And Desperation. “I’m really not good enough to deserve a boyfriend. I’m . . . different than other girls. I’m not cute. I don’t know all the really cool things to say to a guy. I don’t have a pretty face. My boobs are too small. I’m not the kind of girl a guy brags about like a trophy that he won. I just don’t have what other girls have.” Or “I’m such a dork and a loser. No girl would ever want me. I still live at home and I have a shit job. I have a stupid car. I don’t do cool stuff and I don’t know how to talk to girls.”
Sound familiar? Despiute all of that . . . you finally got a date and it wasn’t a disaster. In fact, he wanted to see you again, the next weekend. Before long, you were seeing each other every week and once or twice during the week and you felt like you were on top of the world, until . . . “we need to talk.” After the break up, you were devastated and you thought that your life was over. You knew, beyond all doubt, that no other guy would ever want to go out with you. Certainly no guy would ever want to have sex with you. You were destined to die like an old maid, with 78 cats in the house and a video report on the 11 o’clock news, unless . . . there was only one thing to do. You had to get him back!
3. Magic Thinking. If we get back together, this time it will be different! We’ll make things work. We’ll try harder. Something will happen so that it will work. I just know it! We’ve spent so much time together, it just has to work!
4. Pride. Maybe you didn’t think about why it didn't work or what role you played in the break up because you didn’t want to think about that stuff. It felt like it would be easier to reconcile than to admit that it didn't work . . . that you didn’t make it work.
Sometimes, particularly when you are younger, it is difficult to admit out shortcomings. It is not easy to say to yourself, "That was my fault. I didn't give her the attention that she deserved. I paid more attention to others and then expected her to be devoted to me. I was selfish." That kind of brutal self-critical analysis is what makes people grow but it is not always easy. Sometimes it doesn't start until we are confronted with a situation in which we cannot avoid admitting some fault, and hen we see that not only did the world not come to an end, but we could tolerate living with a self-concept that falls somewhere short of perfection.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Whatever reason you have for wanting to reconcile . . . the bottom line is that it didn't work. And you may still genuinely love him, and he may still genuinely love you, but the truth is that it takes more than love to make a relationship work. And you didn’t have enough of whatever it takes.
You got to know each other and, after having that experience, one of you said to the other, "I don't want to be with you anymore." No one pressured you to end the relationship. At least one of you thought it was a good idea. So you went your separate ways . . . at least for a while.
When you got together the first time, it took a while to get beyond the honeymoon phase and to begin appraising each other realistically. That's when at least one of you realized that you didn't want to be in the relationship. The second time around, the honeymoon phase will be much shorter and you will soon arrive at the same point. Whatever problems, conflicts, differences, etc. you had the first time . . . they are still present. You broke up because you couldn’t solve the problems and those problems weren’t minor problems. They were so significant that at least one of you thought it was better to pull the plug and let the relationship come to an end.
Those problems are still there. They didn’t go away just because a few weeks or months passed. All of those little irritating things she did . . . you remember? She still does them! The way he always said unpleasant things about people who were different . . . remember? . . . he still says them. When you were having sex and she just lay there like a limp rag doll and never gave you a clue about what turned her on and then all of a sudden, she had an orgasm and it was over and it wasn’t a big deal . . . she still acts the same way in bed. She still doesn’t swallow. He still won’t go down on you. She still orders the most expensive item on the menu. He’s still a cheapskate. She will still spend way too much time texting her friends when she is with you. Your family still won’t be important to him.
You were told that, when you fell in love, it would be wonderful, it would be easy, life would be a picnic in the park with cooling summer breezes and free lemonade. If that’s what somebody told you, they lied. Relationships take love, trust, and respect, and sometimes even that isn’t enough. You can love someone dearly and the relationship still won’t work.
Look at the relationship differently. Don't view it as a failure. You came together with someone and you gave it a good effort. You discovered that you were not meant for each other. Instead of trying to hammer square pegs into round holes, you acknowledged your discovery and broke up so that you would be free to pursue someone with whom you might be more compatible. While the result was not a success, you did what you should have done and resolved things in a mature manner. That is not a dismal failure but a sign that you have matured in the way you handle relationships.
However, if you think it was a gigantic failure and that is simply too much for you to accept, you will reunite. When you break up the second time, you will ask yourself, "Why did I do the same thing again?" You will have one more reason to beat yourself up. If you parted on good terms the first time, that is as good as it gets. Perhaps the second time, you will part on less than good terms. And you will have wasted your time and energy.
The exception to this rule would be that if you feel that you honestly did not try as hard as you could have the first time around, you should consider going back to try again. It probably won't work the second time, either, but at least you won't look back and have regrets and wonder if it would have worked if you had given it a complete effort.
So . . . that's why it's not a good idea to reconcile a relationship that has broken up. Having heard all of that, you may say to yourself, "But we're different and. . . blah, blah, blah." Yes, You are different. Everyone is different in some ways. As Margaret Mead said, "You should never forget that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." Yes, you're different but you're not THAT different. You are different in some minor ways and those differences probably won't lead to a different result for you.
This is one of those rules that most people insist on discovering for themselves, so, if you go back and try it again. . . good luck! When it doesn’t work, you can write a myTake and post it here, hoping to share your wisdom with others so that they won’t make the same mistake.
That’s what I did . . . and they won’t listen to you, either.