Why You Should Not Date Your Ex

You’re a little lonely – plus a lot bored. And you haven’t had sex for so long that you swear you’re a...

Written by Amy C · 3 min read >
Why You Should Not Date Your Ex - Heart Hackers Club -  - Breakup Bootcamp: The Science of Rewiring Your Heart

It’s the weekend. The thought of boozing it up at the club with the last of your single friends seems more unappealing now that you’re in your thirties. You’re a little lonely – plus a lot bored. And you haven’t had sex for so long that you swear you’re a born-again virgin.  Right now your ex is looking preeeettty good. In fact, he looks like a saint compared to the slew of bad dates recently, from the guy who only spoke in analogies to the guy who couldn’t understand why you declined an invite to his house to watch a “DVD” as a first date.

The thought of left-swiping on Tinder or answering another pointless question on eHarmony makes you feel exhausted rather than celebratory.

So why didn’t it work out with him again? Because he sure is looking pretty perfect right about now!

During moments when the future looks daunting, our vulnerability can cause us to crave comfort and seek connection with someone familiar.

Understandably, the latest significant connection with an ex seems to be the answer to that lonely, empty feeling inside. Suddenly all the issues, turbulence and fights from the past seem to fade away into this new found appreciation for your previous love. You’ve changed. He’s changed. Maybe it will work this time around.

No, actually, it won’t. And here’s why.

The red flags that were there in the beginning are the same red flags that will cause your relationship to fail in the end.

Those insecurities, those unresolved trust issues, those clashes in values? Oh those minor details?  Yep, those are the same problems that are going to peak it’s head into your everyday as soon as the initial surge of chemical reactions settle down and you’re back in reality mode. Unless some serious self-work has been done to identify, heal and move forward from those previous issues, it is only a matter of time until those issues are triggered again.

People don’t change.

Our nature, values, and principles generally stay the same throughout our entire lives. While our perspectives and life vision can shift, for the most part we have a core way of being that has been engrained through repetition, which makes it awfully hard to change, as we grow older.

We are a sum of our habits and our patterns have been reinforced through time. Changing those habits are possible, but it doesn’t happen overnight.

Authentic change that has a lasting effect (and doesn’t suddenly disappear when the adrenaline from watching Tony Robbins or reading a self-help book fades) comes from altering our every day habits. You are what you repeat. While I do not doubt the intention people have for change, I question the impact if that intention is not backed by actions, and reinforced by repetition. That, I believe is how your brain becomes rewired for meaningful change.

Dealing with the Symptoms Do Not Resolve the Root of the Issue

When we address only the symptom of a problem and not the root of the problem we only keep applying Band-Aids to an issue. Let’s use jealousy as an example. One partner can be overly jealous because she was cheated on in the past. One of her solutions may be to stop her partner from having contact with female friends. While this strategy may work to alleviate her anxieties for a period of time, eventually, that root insecurity and lack of trust  will be triggered again. The couple can keep dealing with the symptoms or work on getting through the root of that insecurity that hasn’t been dealt with before. The latter is much harder to do as it takes courage, openness, discipline and hard work. Until  you and your ex start dealing with those deep-rooted issues, you’ll likely just keep fighting the same battle over and over again.

You’re Reconciling for All the Wrong Reasons

You are not choosing that person all over again because there’s a clean slate and you think this is the right fit for you. You’re choosing the person because you don’t want to waste the time/effort/cost that has already been invested. Be wary of the sunk cost fallacy. As described in the book The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rob Dobelli, this is when a person feels he has invested a lot of time/money/energy/love in something and the investment becomes the reason to carry on, even if dealing with a lost cause.

Forget about the investment and costs incurred to date. Look at your compatibility, your life vision, your values and your communication ability – are they aligned? Having a history with someone doesn’t magically result in N alignment of the fundamentals that make a healthy relationship.

You Have Chemistry But Not Compatibility

The chemical cocktail that comes along in the excitement of new love is intoxicating to say the least.

Chemistry with someone doesn’t necessarily equate to compatibility. The thing is, when you have sex with someone, your body releases chemicals that make you bond and attach. So even if you have different values, want different things and lack compatibility all ‘round, your brain is hooked on the person. Biologically, when you have sex, you release dopamine, the same chemical released when someone does cocaine. It’s addictive stuff. This may explain why during intimacy your rational brain can list a million reasons why you shouldn’t reunite with your ex while your reptilian brain urges you to get your next hit, drawing you back to the person.

Of course, it’s not impossible to have a more successful go at a relationship the second time around. People do grow and sometimes it takes losing someone to realize what you had. If you are contemplating going back to your ex, I hope that this is the case for you. Just be mindful of the traps we too often make, causing us to continue relationship patterns that don’t serve us.

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Written by Amy C
Amy Chan is the Founder of Renew Breakup Bootcamp, a retreat that takes a scientific and spiritual approach to healing the heart. Marie Claire calls her "A relationship expert whose work is like that of a scientific Carrie Bradshaw" and her company has been featured across national media including Good Morning America, Vogue, Glamour, Nightline along with the front page of The New York Times. Her book, Breakup Bootcamp - The Science of Rewiring Your Heart, published by Harper Collins, will be released Fall 2020. Profile

7 Replies to “Why You Should Not Date Your Ex”

  1. Agree on all accounts. A major shift on both partners may deserve a second chance. If all else is the same, you just have your wash cycle on repeat.

  2. If he’s an ex there’s a reason you broke up. Simple as that but it’s so easy to forget why it didn’t work out in the first place.

  3. GREAT great thoughts. This is by far becoming one of the best and must read blogs on relationship for me. There is so much maturity here.

    By the way, I think you meant Rolf Dobelli. Not Rob. 😉

  4. Hi Amy, I would like to have your opinion. I am actually living a very hard situation. My boyfriend and I were living together for 2 years.We always had litotes difficulties in our couple but we were always founding a way to get over them. One day, I was totally discouraged, after 2 months of crying each night and ask him for attention (we were having no more intimacy or any conversations) , he was always on his cell phone etc. I told him I should leave him if he does not change his attitude and continues to live with me as if I was his room mate.Nothing happened so I left him. During one month I went on vacations and I was seeing someone to distract me (useless choice I know). He begged me to come back. So I did because I was missing him too.He told me he had realized his bad attitude with me Some things changed, some didn’t. One year later we had a very bad fight and he told me it was over. He didn’t want to explain his self it was OVER. I was shocked and ruined. It was so unexpected .We were still living together but I was preparing myself to move. 4 days after the drama, I had an intuition, I look in his cell phone and I found a message from a coworker of him. A girl obviously. He lied and told me its was a friend. But he was seeing that girl. So I moved with my brother. 1 Months after, he tried to come back, and since november, he tried to come back in my life. He wants to give another chance to our couple. He seems really convinced to come back with me and want to see a psychologist together. I know it might seem a crazy and immature story but I can’t get him out of my head we are separate for now 9 months.

    What should I do ?

    Thanks in advance

  5. Last year I broke up with my girlfriend due to many misunderstandings and I remember very well how hard I had been fighting to get her back. She changed her number, changed her job so that I don’t visit her office and none of her friends would give me any information about her. The only thing I could do was to go find help from anywhere, so i looked for a way to get her back then a friend recommended me to contact Prophet.chasus@yahoo.com that he will help me and as my friend said, Prophet.chasus helped me to bring back my girlfriend just in 3 days, I now have her back and this is the biggest joy of my life.

  6. After 2 years in marriage with my Husband with a kid, my husband started going out with other ladies and showed me cold love, on several occasions he threatens to divorce me if I dare question him about his affair with other women, I was totally devastated and confused until a friend told me about a spell caster who help people with their relationship and marriage problem by the powers of love spells, at first I doubted if such thing ever exists but decided to give it a try, when I contact him and told him my problem, he helped me cast a love spell and after 24hours my husband came back to me and started apologizing and ever since the spell cast, he has stopped going out with ladies and he is with me for good and for real. Contact this great spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem at dr_mack@ yahoo. com…….

  7. Life is way way to complex to sum something like this up in a short article. Follow your heart always. Go back to love that is calling again. Never ever miss that second time around. Or third, fourth, fifth. Well you get the point.

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