Is Reconnecting With an Ex Always a Mistake?

As a girl who’s no stranger to feeling blindsided in relationships, I admit to have claimed to “hate boys,” and declare that “men are trash!!!” when conversing with my fellow broken-hearted friends. Connecting over regretful relationships and feeling mutually screwed-over by men is the cornerstone of lifelong friendship. (Sex in the City didn’t have six seasons for nothing.) These reflections of failed-relationships often spiral into a raging evening of female solidarity. I remember one friend commenting during a past vent-session: “Why are you stressing about men when they ain’t sh*t?” Yet, our belligerent nights of sisterhood have historically been brought to a halt when, out of the blue, an undeserving boy from our past decides to illuminate one of our lockscreens. A simple message can shift the night into daunting, treacherous opportunity.

“No!!!” “Oh my god.” “Don’t reply!” “What did he say?” “I can’t believe this.” “Wow.” “I knew this would happen.” *laughs* “This is so great.” “Wait, wait!!! Don’t you remember how horrible he was to you?” “What do I say?” “Do. Not. Reply.” “Read receipts?”

It may be just about the hardest thing in the world to not indulge in the: “I want you back,” “I saw your Instagram post. You look great,” “I hope you’re doing well,” “I’m sorry I was such a jerk, I know I really f*cked up,” “I miss you,” “I’m a wreck without you,” “I need you in my life,” begging apology texts that come months down the line after a breakup. (Which are, evidently, everything you ever could have wished to hear from the self-righteous boy who dumped you.) I’ve received texts like these, as have my friends/proud members of the resentful-about-failed-love-club...but they’re always from guys who don’t deserve a second chance. So why is it so hard to resist?

A lot of the time, I will admit, I fall for it. I’ve witnessed my friends fall for it, too. Nearly every time, without fail, reconnecting with an ex is a huge mistake. Maybe we do it for the validation, the chance for reparation, or the sad truth that we really do still care about the person. But before we know it, we’re crying to our friends wondering what the hell happened to the empowerment we were celebrating just a few weeks ago. “How did I get here? I was fine before...I was winning."

Too often it seems that the tables turn on us, and the one who broke our heart is breaking it once again. Can things really be that different the second time around? The third? The fifth? (I’ll own up to my relationship failures; there are some that I’ve lost track of which “second” chance they’re truly on...)

Jokes and questionable judgment aside, between my own experiences and my friends’, these trends seem all too common. Why are we such suckers for second (sometimes fifteenth,) chances for the people who hurt us the most?

It doesn’t stem from self-sabotage or low self-esteem. It’s wanting to hold onto the idea of what the two people in our loving memories had: the version of ourselves that we really liked, in a happy relationship with the ideal version of the person we loved. It’s hoping that the grave that was buried at the end of the relationship can somehow be dug up later.

When that text lights up our phone, it’s really hard to turn all of that opportunity down. However, with the resurrection of old relationships also come the reasons you put it to bed the first time. The disappointing truth is, they probably really haven’t changed that much— neither have you. They missed you, and it’s nice to feel missed. What’s not so nice is having your heart broken again, especially by the same person.

Reconnecting with an ex isn’t always a bad thing; there are always exceptions to the rules. Things do change, and people can change, too. But it’s always a good idea to tread carefully, and maybe reconsider handing out that fourth “second” chance. Try to be honest with them, and yourself, about your apprehensions; it’s best to be realistic. The problems you had that led to your first breakup aren’t likely to disappear if you get back together. Love is complicated, and every relationship is far from perfect. Still, sometimes a second chance can be one too many, simply because not everyone deserves them. Maybe ‘the right guy’ is the one who doesn't mess up the first time around...because second chances really aren’t that romantic.

1, 2, 3, 4