Does this story sound familiar: you were dating someone and you were happy, like brag to all of your friends that you're "kind of sort of seeing someone" happy. Even though you didn't have the title, he was basically your boyfriend. You had a parking pass at his place (and not just one of those disposable weekly ones). And you did silly couple-y stuff like kiss in photo booths, venture to the farmers market, and *gasp* get brunch.
A month passed and you asked the inevitable question:
"So, are you my boyfriend?"
He said he needed more time. Which is Guy for: "I need to spend more time on Tinder."
So you gave him time, he never committed, you broke up. Well, can you break up with someone who was never your boyfriend? Like, can you return something you never bought? Time passes and now he wants you back.
What the what?
You should be overjoyed. If this were three months ago, you'd be elated. But the passage of time makes it feel wrong. It's like when those wedges you were eying finally go on sale and suddenly you don't want them anymore. They don't have that fresh out-of-the-box smell they had when you first tried them on. Now they're worn with scuff marks. Also it's November. You don't need wedges in the Winter. I'm not saying men are wedges. 'Cause it's nice to have a boyfriend in November.
Getting back together after a breakup is common. Look at Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis! According to Science Daily, almost 50 percent of couples break up and get back together.
I get the appeal. It's familiar. You know which side of his bed you like to sleep on. It's comfortable. Not to mention the obvious: dating is the worst. See: Tinder.
Here's why I think getting back together can be problematic.
1. You broke up for a reason.
Remember why you broke up? Remember all the times he made you cry? Remember when he didn't want to commit? Or that time you saw another girl texting him her nail art?! Whatever it was, your best friends sure do. They were the ones who were calming you down as you were eating your weight in Yougurtland.
2. It's work.
Relationships are work, and sometimes that work is worth it, especially if you have kids or a marriage tying you together. But if you don't have those commitments, then the relationship can feel like it has passed its shelf life, and the work isn't worth it. I had a therapist once explain to me that my relationship with an ex was expired like spoiled milk. And would I drink rotten milk? I told him I drink almond milk, which doesn't really expire. He told me I needed to stop making jokes in therapy. Point is, the work isn't worth it if the relationship has run its course and you're left with sour milk.
3. Sure, couples get back together on TV, but that's TV.
Chuck and Blaire, Ross and Rachel, Carrie and Big. Yes, there are cases when couples get back together and it works out. But you're not a fictional TV character or (and I know this will be harder to accept) Carrie Bradshaw. Every relationship is different. Be realistic about yours and your expectations. Hate to break it to you, but in the real world, your ex is not going to chase you to Paris (unless Paris is Paris, OH).
4. You don't need to "catch up." That's what social media is for.
OK, so maybe you're not getting back with your ex. But you're "grabbing coffee to catch up." And you think this is pretty harmless; you're just being cordial! And he deserves to see how much skinnier you've gotten since the breakup! Stop it. You might as well hook up with him again (don't do that). We live in a digital age. There is no need to catch up with someone in person, when you can just scroll through their Instagram account and see they're still drinking lattes and seeing sunsets. If someone hurt you so much, what's the point of letting him hurt you again?
5. You can change socks; you can't change people.
My dad told me that, and I hate to say, but it's true. You know that thing that annoyed you about him that made you realize you're not compatible? He still has that. People do not change. He still likes bad Nicolas Cage movies. He still thinks that terrible taco place next to him is "a nice restaurant"; he still argues the same way. So all you can do is change socks. Aka find someone new. Life is short. You deserve to be happy and eating at a restaurant with at least an A rating.
I hope my two cents helped you if you're on the fence of getting back with an ex. I truly believe in the words of the great Bob Dylan: "Don't look back."
And this, Arnold*, is why we are never, ever getting back together.
*Names have been changed, obviously — who is named Arnold these days aside from the Terminator?