Lauren Conrad once said one of the most relatable quotes in television history, one that has made many rounds on Instagram for heartbroken and/or ego-bruised girls.
What is it with the self-destructive, complete lack of will power, that is going back to an ex? Whether it be an ex-partner, ex-fling, ex-semi-on-and-off-person, and whether it be just going back for a one night stand (or a couple of them), or falling back into the relationship.
It’s easy for your friends to tell you that you shouldn’t, from an outside perspective to just tell you that you’re being stupid, that they won’t change, that you’re ‘better’ than that. They can’t bring themselves to understand it, but they shouldn’t have to. It’s your thing to face, your habit to change. And frankly, dear friends, it can be annoying as heck to have someone tell you something you already know (and it’s especially annoying when you don the old ‘I told you so’. Don’t be that guy). You cannot change my decisions; I must learn for myself.
Humans are creatures of habit. Once we have a routine, or a connection with another human being, it is hard to break free from it. Investing time and energy into a relationship is a lot of work, and the thought of starting over can seem daunting. Many of us know the effort it can take to get out into the dating world and even more effort it takes to form a connection with someone; you often gotta go through a lotta duds to find ya dude. Even though they can hurt you, it’s hard to walk away when they know you so well. There is also nothing to lose when you know how it will end and where you stand with them.
My body had made some secret pact, unbeknownst to me, to endure any emotional turmoil to return to that bed of his. I was starting to understand how people get addicted to things they know are bad for them, because, like a heroin addict, I kept going back for my fix only to find myself craving it in consistently increasing doses. Who the hell had I become? I was losing time and had nothing but rug burns on my knees to show for it. Was I regressing or just enjoying the freedom to fuck the way men do for the sake of selfish pleasure?
Paris Hangover, Kirsten Lobe; p. 259
We gloss over the shit things because we can remember the good ones; it happens a lot to people when they have just broken up with someone, you feel the loss of the good times, romanticise them, and that is often why we struggle more to move on. Repressing negative memories is a tool we use to protect ourselves from re-experiencing trauma. When we have made ourselves vulnerable to someone and labelled them as a person who knows us, it can be hard to recognise that their behaviour is problematic. We can even go as far as to say that you are a victim of narcissism; they know how to reel you in, to convince you that you need them, that you can’t live without them (and, conveniently, that they have actually done nothing wrong).
It’s comfort. We all know what it’s like getting to know someone new. What it’s like having to go through the motions of them finding out the weird, quirky things about you and how they will react to it. What the thought is of having to get into a new rhythm with someone, emotionally and physically. Going back to someone is easy and comfortable and you always know what it will feel like.
And the best thing a friend can do for one going through this? Just be there. Don’t tell them what to do; if you feel the need to put your two cents in, do it carefully, nicely, and prepare not to be heard for a while. Tea. Love. A shoulder and an ear, is all they need.
Is it an addiction? Is it a lack of self-worth (which, obviously, we’d all like to convince ourselves it is not)? Is it an affinity to want to change the other person, a saviour complex? Is it hope? Or is it in a bid to prove everyone else wrong?