If you’ve ever been through a breakup (at least with someone who hasn’t done anything truly horrible to you), there will almost inevitably be a point when you start to think about them again. You think, “what if?” What would happen if we got back together? Would it really be that bad? Actually, it’d be awesome… why did we even break up in the first place?
This is backsliding.
Backsliding can often refer to sex with an ex partner, but it also can refer to getting back into relationships with former partners.
Sometimes it really is okay and people can get into happy relationships after they’ve broken up and gone through their own personal changes, or if they broke up just because of certain circumstances (e.g. not geographically near each other, conflicting schedules, not emotionally ready yet, etc.).
But more often than not, backsliding is emotionally unhealthy and should be avoided.
I’ve been tempted to backslide more times than I’d like to admit, but I know it’s in my best interest to keep moving forward. Your relationship ended for a reason. Unless that reason is gone and circumstances have changed, and unless your partner is worth your time and effort, you shouldn’t waste your time going back. If you spend so much time stuck in the past, you’ll never enjoy the present.
Here are a few tips I use to avoid backsliding:
- Remember why you broke up. If you aren’t together anymore, there’s probably a good reason. Maybe you two fought a lot or weren’t compatible. Maybe he flirted with other girls right in front of you. Maybe he wasn’t ready for a committed relationship (or maybe you weren’t ready either). It is most especially in your best interest if you don’t backslide into a formerly toxic relationship. If he abused you physically/emotionally, cheated on you, or seriously disrespected you somehow, do not forget about this. Use it as a reminder of why you shouldn’t get back together, but don’t let it hold you back from moving forward with your life.
- Remind yourself about the deal breakers. E.g.: he didn’t share your core values, he didn’t remember your birthday, he didn’t get along with your best friend, he identified as a “men’s rights activist” (true story from one of my friends), he spent more time playing video games than paying any attention to you, etc. Being in a relationship with someone means that you’ll spend a lot of time together. If you know that you can’t stand being around him because of these deal breakers, why bother trying again? This is your chance to find people whose company you do enjoy. Don’t miss it!
- Think about the future. Do you really want to end up with this person? If you don’t see the relationship going anywhere in the future, why waste your time with someone who you don’t see yourself with in the long haul? Sticking with someone just because they’re familiar or because you’re comfortable with them can hold you back from meeting new people who you may be much more compatible with, or someone who you could live with happily, instead of your ex.
- Ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you lonely? Do you miss the familiarity of your old relationship? Loneliness comes and goes, but it can lead to true happiness as you grow stronger and find people who bring a positive influence to your life. Familiarity is nice but with time, you can become familiar and comfortable with other people, too.
- Don’t settle. Sure, your ex might have made you feel great and attractive at some points in your relationship. He might have done nice things for you sometimes. But always remember that things happen for a reason. If you broke up, it’s only an opportunity to grow as an individual and to start over. Just because your ex is an option doesn’t mean he’s the only option. With time, things will get better. Outside of your past relationship, there is always the possibility of happiness, but if you go back to your past relationship, you’re more likely to get into the same problems you had before and restart that cycle. Try to stick it out even if it’s difficult because the best is yet to come.