We need to talk.
I realize that change can be difficult to accept. Even in our relatively short lives, we've already dealt with so much: the sudden increase in body hair during adolescence, the rise and fall of the boy band craze, the end of the Harry Potter series.
But throughout it all, we've maintained a positive outlook. Sure the world is constantly changing, but it's up to us to find the good in that change and adapt to fit the ebb and flow of our lives. We manage our unwanted body hair with shaving creams and depilatory products. We mourn the end of N*Sync, but celebrate Justin Timberlake's respectable solo career and sexier hairstyle. We eagerly await the next Potter film and entertain ourselves with internet fan-fiction in the meantime.
Yes, you know as well as the rest of us that change is a necessary part of life. But recently you've shown a certain unwillingness to adapt.
No one expected you to cope well with your breakup. There were the initial tears and trauma. I seem to recall a tray of Oreos that mysteriously went missing. Then there was the impromptu marathon of The Office reruns that night, which resulted in a near-breakdown when Jim told Pam he loved her. And I stuck by your side through it all, hoping that you'd soon be back to your old self.
And before long, you were back to your old self. A little too much like your old self.
When I went to get dinner a few nights ago, imagine my surprise when I found you and your ex sharing a table and a smoothie. And when I passed by your room yesterday morning, I found your ex leaving with the same guilty grin of a preteen boy who'd just discovered Cinemax After Dark.
You seem to be in denial about the recent troubles of your relationship, namely that you aren’t in one anymore. You continue to see your ex on a regular basis, and God (and your next-door neighbor) only knows what kind of things you two are doing behind closed doors. Frankly, this is not the best way to deal. Here's why.
A Brief History of Your History
For a long time your ex was large part of your life, so it's understandable that you'd find it hard to immediately transition to a life without him. I mean, if some terrible circumstance removed me from your life, I'm sure you'd spend hours combing through pop culture blogs to get that same fix of razor-sharp wit and occasional social commentary.
But unlike smoking and internet porn, an ex is best given up cold turkey. As much as the withdrawal pains eat at your heart and soul, it's far more damaging in the long run to keep your ex in your life.
If you continue to hang out with your ex right after a breakup, it becomes too easy to convince yourself that nothing has changed. You'll watch a movie and cuddle up on the couch, or go out to dinner on a Friday night, and you'll feel just like you did when you two were dating.
But things have changed; you're not dating. He has no obligation to call you, to hang out, and most importantly to not look at other girls. If you fall back into that comfortable dating frame of mind, it will be all the more painful when he starts seeing someone else. It will be Breakup Part 2, and like most sequels it will have the same basic plot but somehow suck a whole lot more.
The other danger that you might face is a problem I like to call "premature get-back-ulation," which, unlike its rhyming counterpart, has ramifications that reach far beyond the world of the bedroom.
Spending so much time together, you two might begin to wonder why you ever broke up in the first place and decide that reconciliation is the best route to take. But the fact of the matter is that you broke up for a reason, be it frequent fighting, different life goals, or simply that he resented your freedom to wear eyeliner and hosiery without fear of social stigma. And the 36 hours you spent apart after your breakup didn't fix any of those problems.
When you get back together so soon after a breakup, it's really only a matter of time before your relationship falls victim to the same problems that killed it in the first place. If you have any hope of salvaging your lost relationship, it's going to take time apart before you two can figure out how to fix whatever went wrong.
A Note on Post-Breakup Relations
Post-breakup relations or, as the young folks call it, "sex with an ex" has garnered much debate over the years. Is it okay? Is there too much history there for casual sex to work out? Is it wrong to treat a man like a piece of meat who's good for one thing and one thing only?
Well, to answer your questions, sometimes, maybe, and not at all.
Even if your relationship didn't quite make it, that doesn't mean that there were any problems in the bedroom. And if your ex had all the right moves to make you say "Uhhhh! Na na na na!" it would be a shame to put an end to such an enjoyable part of your week.
But there are very important criteria to consider when deciding if sex with an ex is right for you.
To begin with, you can't launch right into it within a week or two of your breakup. Right after a breakup, emotions are still too fresh, wounds too raw. And it's hard for many to separate these emotions from all the sweet, sweet lovin'.
Also important to consider is how your breakup went down. If you two parted ways amicably, having agreed that things simply weren't working out, then there's really no harm in some horizontal fun. But if one person very clearly dumped the somewhat unsuspecting other, then you two might have very different perceptions of what the sex means. One of you might get too attached, and casual fun may too quickly transform into a rerun of MTV’s Undressed.
Ultimately, it’s all a matter of time. Before you can appreciate having your ex in your life as a friend or a bedroom aid, you need to spend a little while apart so you can stop thinking of him as a boyfriend.
Besides, after a long relationship you need some time to appreciate life as a single girl. Flirt with some dudes. Go weeks without shaving your legs. Take your motorcycle for a ride down the open road, no man to answer to, and your only companions the nighttime air and the starlit sky…
Or whatever it is that single girls do nowadays.