I am not somebody who gives up on love easily, and sometimes, this leads me to the point of my own downfall.
If I love you, then, in the words of Lorde, "I will love you til you call the cops on me." My love is so steadfast that I have been both the person who takes back my ex and the ex who comes back.
While I don't believe there is a rule book for dating, I am trying to incorporate some rules for self-preservation into my daily life. One of these includes knowing that just because you love somebody, doesn't mean it's right.
It's tough to stick to that principle when the person you wanted to spend years with asks to get back together. Sometimes, you have to pretend to be your own best friend, who would take you aside and whisper this knowing list of reminders in your ear:
1. They Didn't Bring Out The Best In You
When someone leaves your life, it's easy to turn them into a "Best Of" reel, where you only see the highlights of your time together and not the times when they made you miserable.
Remember when you were supposed to be taking in your friend's thesis presentation, but you spent the whole time checking your phone because that person was supposed to meet up with you, but never got in touch?
Remember when he spent the whole house show flirting with his ex-girlfriend and ignoring you, even after you told him that it brought out your insecurities?
Remember when she made cruel jokes at your expense in front of your friends?
These negative memories don't mean that the good ones didn't happen. But be real with yourself. Your ex might be insisting that they are a different person who won't make the same mistakes again, but real change takes a lot of time apart and self-renewal to create.
Intention is all well and good, but if it's only been a little while apart, there's a 90 percent chance that you're getting back with exactly the same person.
Do you really want to take that gamble?
2. Your Con List Outweighs The Pros
If you didn't make a pro and con list when you were trying to get over your ex, then hurry up and do it now. And by cons, I don't mean listing all of their personal flaws. (True love forgives them, after all.) Instead, I mean listing all the places where they wanted something that was different than you.
Was he really into quickies and didn't give you enough time in bed to satisfy your needs?
Did she want an open relationship, while you are serially monogamous?
Did you want to travel together, but they were a homebody?
All of these differences are important information in terms of predicting the outcome of your relationship. While compromise is important, you can only compromise so much before you're giving yourself up. If you have more differences than similarities, then the relationship itself might not be what you actually want.
3. The Second Cut Can Be The Deepest
Some law of nature seems to dictate that your ex comes back when you are either over them or envisioning the point when you will be over them.
Maybe they are picking up on happy, healing vibes from your Instagram selfies, or maybe they noticed you rearranged your room to eliminate all traces of them. Maybe you were texting them, and now, it's been days since you've been in contact.
Whatever the reason, when your ex gets back in touch with you, it often opens up all those old wounds and vulnerabilities that were beginning to heal. Do you really want to risk the scar tissue?
Of course, nothing is certain in life, and you and your ex might very well end up spending the rest of your lives together.
If you're going to risk a second dose of pain, though, you might want to have more than a vague hope that that is where you're headed.
4. You Are Still Hurt, Resentful, Or Angry
Unless it's been years since you were in a relationship together, you've moved cities, had long-term relationships with other people, embarked on solo quests of self-discovery, and possibly changed your name, you are probably harboring some resentment toward your ex -- even if only for the grief they caused when they left you.
Anger is a healthy emotion. However, if you haven't completely worked through it on your own terms and are leaping straight to the point of forgiveness for the sake of getting back with your ex, then that emotion is going to come out elsewhere in your relationship.
Unless you both are willing to get some couples counseling, if you still feel hurt (which translates to angry), then you need more time apart.
5. You Were Beginning To Invest In Yourself Again
Breakups are huge losses that take an immense emotional toll on you. On the other side of that heartbreak, though, is an exciting place where you learn how to put all of the energy that you invested in another person into yourself.
In fact, the periods after breakups have been some of the most accomplished and accelerated periods of growth in my life.
If my former lover and I had really gotten back together, I probably would have fooled myself into thinking that I could keep up that momentum. The reality would be that all of the energy it would take to rekindle a relationship would come at an expense to my success. (And in a few cases, it did.)
If you are thinking about selling yourself short when your ex comes back, then don't. You've been with yourself longer than you were ever with your ex anyway. That's the one relationship you're going to have to stick with for the rest of your life.