Should You Get Back With Your Ex?
In the grocery store line the other day, I overheard a young 20-something talking a little too loudly to her friend on the phone. She seemed distressed by a decision she had to make - whether to get involved with "James" (assuming that was her ex-boyfriend) or not. Now, I know I had no business listening in on this saga, but the line was long and I was bored, so...I listened.
This young woman went on and on about the pros and cons of getting back with James. It's not an uncommon exercise for young women. I've been there. You detail all the banal things about the person that you like (he's cute, he makes me laugh) and then you list out all the bad incidents and experiences you've had with them (he has a bad temper, he smokes, he refused to attend my family gathering because he didn't feel like putting on pants [a true story]). I find that usually the "con" side of the list is longer, but we tend to overlook those red flags because our heart is telling us that we love that person and can love them despite the flaws. We all have flaws, sure. And there are even some that aren't deal breakers. The issue, however, is that we will end up settling for less than we are worth for superficial reasons, and hope like hell that the "con" side of the list doesn't pop up in the future.
Sorry to tell you - the cons don't go away...
I'm no expert in relationships generally, but I am an expert in bad relationships. I stayed in one two years longer than I should have because I didn't want to be alone. In my head, I'd become comfortable with dealing with the daily negatives and painful experiences, all in the name of "being in a relationship." We even broke up - (my opportunity to run like hell) - but we eventually put a temporary Band-aid on things. So imagine the restraint I had to practice when I'm listening to this young woman in the grocery line talk about all of James' flaws and then dismiss them because, "Valentine's Day is coming up and I just don't want to be by myself." I wanted to turn around, shake her, and tell her that James seemed like a real jerk and she should head for the hills. I didn't, ultimately, but I should have.
I'm not saying that there are never times to get back with someone. Forgiveness and growth are very real, and I still think grown people are capable of some level of change. And to be honest, I'm quasi-glad that I gave the Unwilling a second chance because I learned a lot (at my own expense, but I accept the lesson). I'm just saying that on the other side of the nightmare that was my last bad relationship, I am a witness that if you find yourself overlooking all the bullshit of a past relationship just because you don't want to be alone, then that's not the reason to get back into it.
I don't know what the young woman in the grocery store ultimately decided. But what I hope for her is that regardless of her choice, she does not minimize or ignore her own values in the name of snuggling up to a warm body who can offer her nothing more.
What are your thoughts?
Photo courtesy of ABC