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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Her Gay Best Friend: Recycle, Seduce, Reuse – When to Give Second Chances and When to Dispose of an Ex for Good

We need to talk.

With classes up and running again, it can be really easy to fall back into old patterns from last semester. You may have spent the summer getting rid of your hard-partying habits, but with five friends egging you on it’s just too hard to say no to two-for-one night at Tequila Mockbird. And I know you’re trying your damnedest to be on time for all of your classes – it’s just that sometimes you don’t hear your alarm go off. Or your second alarm go off. Or the texts I send you. Or your suitemate knocking on the door.

And then there’s your ex.

Last May you couldn’t stop talking about all of the reasons your breakup was for the best – he never listened, he never made time for you, he wasn’t potty-trained after a couple of beers – but after a three month hiatus all of those reasons seem so insignificant. After all, who needs someone who listens to your words when you both communicate on a much deeper level? And less time together only makes the little time you see each other that much more special. As for the pee…well puppies have a little accident every now and then, but we don’t write them off entirely, do we?

Now you’re starting to reconsider. Maybe you two should give it another shot! And you don’t mean two ounces of liquor (although that probably would help the situation) – you’re talking about a real second chance for you two to make it work. I mean, if he was worth dating the first time who’s to say he isn’t worth dating again?

Well, hold the phone, Carrie Bradshaw. There are a bunch of things that should never be done more than once – like eating an entire Coldstone cake or watching “Two Girls, One Cup.” Now, I’m not saying that each man is only good for one use, but there are certain things you should think about before you recycle a past relationship.

How do you know when to try again and when it’s best just to scrap it? Ask yourself the following questions.

Did he cheat on you?
I’m not sure if I put my faith in the “once a cheater, always a cheater” philosophy of men, but there is another adage I agree with 100%:

It’s easier to forgive than forget.

Just because he cheated in the past doesn’t mean that he’ll cheat again, but you don’t know that for certain. And now that it’s happened once, you’ll just be waiting for it to happen again.

If he goes out to a party without you, there’s a good chance you’ll spend your night wondering if he’ll drink a little too much and get nasty with that skanky bio TA who wears jeggings in the winter. And if he tells you that he can’t make dinner because he’s “hanging out with his friends,” you might just convince yourself that “his friends” are a pack of nudist teens who easily give in to peer pressure and that “hanging out” is an obscure sexual term you’ll find a definition for later on Urban Dictionary.

Whether he cheats again or not, the trust is already gone from your relationship, and you could drive yourself crazy wondering when the other shoe (read: penis) is going to drop (read: enter another vagina). I advise you save yourself the trouble and chuck this one back into the dumpster.   

Have circumstances changed since the breakup?
In a number of ways, relationships are like cell phones. Both connect people together. Both cost a certain amount of money each month. Both are in danger when there are too many children running around. And, just like cell phones, relationships can break in extreme conditions.

Yes, just as your cell phone can fall apart if you aren’t paying attention and accidentally step on it, your relationship can fall apart if you both are swamped with studying for the MCATs and never have time to see each other. Or if his family is going through a tough time, and he isn’t handling the stress well. Or if you go abroad and his laptop breaks, leaving you to manage long distance without the consolation of Skype-sex.

It is a sad thing when a relationship falters under the pressure of the outside world, but it doesn’t mean that things aren’t worth another try. You just need to ask yourself: are things any better now than they were then?

Sure it may have been his heavy workload that caused him to neglect you, but if he’s still taking just as many courses and boosting his resume for internship applications, he’s not going to be any more attentive than he used to be. But if you’re back from abroad or his family problems have calmed down a little bit, then it could be worth it to go back to the same cell phone model instead of going for one of those flashy, new ones with a touchscreen.

Let’s just hope that this time no one spills a drink on it or anything.
So why did you break up anyway?
But let’s say he didn’t cheat on you. Let’s say he was perfectly faithful throughout the four months you were together, and nothing extraordinary ever tested the durability of your bond. But still your relationship ended. And here comes the obvious question.


Dig back into the nether-regions of your mind. Ignore all of the Spice Girls lyrics and love letters to Taylor Hanson lying around in there, and focus on the details of your relationship and its decline. Did he say the wrong name at the altar? Did his evil twin pose as him for a few weeks in an elaborate plot to pull you apart? Was losing you the only way to protect his superhero identity?

Or did he just start to bug the shit out of you?

Think hard. Did something happen that started your relationship on a downward spiral, or did you just grow sick of each other? Were you fighting because of some abnormal occurrence or were you just fighting because you couldn’t get along?

It’s one thing if all of the problems in your relationship stemmed from a disagreement that was blown out of proportion, but a few months apart isn’t going to give you any better of a chance if you were genuinely incompatible. If his odd relationship with his mother eventually made you too uncomfortable, then you’re probably not going to have much luck with Oedipus the second time around. And if his constant references to Tarantino movies began to grate on your nerves, it won’t be long ’til you feel like grabbing a nearby samurai sword so you can kill Bill.

Whatever you decide to do, it’s always best to be cautious. Because rekindling a former flame sometimes has a way of leading to a great big fire.

Although, don’t write every ex off entirely. I mean, Carrie did end up marrying Mr. Big on the 12th time around, so there could be hope for you two. Although she did kiss Aiden in the sequel… Oh gosh, did I just spoil the movie for those who didn’t see it? I’m such a stupid bitch!

I’m a stupid bitch.

Scott Rosenfeld is a junior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a double major in Professional Writing and Psychology. Originally from the D.C metropolitan area, Scott grew up with a great passion for the written word. From the time he first read Dr. Seuss, he realized the overwhelming power of human language, as well as the limitless joy of making up words for the sake of rhyme. On campus, Scott keeps busy working as the prose editor for the Oakland Review Literary Journal and an editor for the Thought: Undergraduate Research Journal. He was also recently elected to the position of editor-in-chief for The Cut, Carnegie Mellon’s music magazine, for which he has worked as the copy manager for the past year. As editor-in-chief, he hopes to buy all of his staff a thneed. Because a thneed, he feels, is something that everyone needs.