Embracing Singlehood,  Single Life Blog

Going Ex – Mistakes we make with our Exes

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Is it a mistake to get back with an Ex after a break-up? Yes. Yes it is. 10 biggest mistakes we make with our Exes post breakup.

We all have that mythological Ex. The one who was “perfect”. Who we put on a pedestal, even when they likely didn’t deserve it. Usually they’re also the Ex we make most of our post-break-up mistakes with. For me, it was my second serious boyfriend, who came before Bob (Stages of Denial, Extra Baggage). For the sake of privacy, let’s call him Bill. Bill was my longest relationship (3 years and 3 months). We had a whole Romeo & Juliet romance, and for a long time I believed he was my “Happily Ever After”.

Single life has been one of my best teachers, from which I have learned valuable lessons. Lessons which could not be derived from anywhere else. One of my biggest single life lessons is “mistakes I’ve made with my Ex boyfriends”. What, how and why the mistakes were made. I’ve gathered up 10 biggest mistakes we make with our Exes that are fairly common. I’m pretty sure you have been through some of them too. Which is okay, we’re only human and it’s part of life. The trick is to learn from them and do better next time. 

1. Remembering only the good times
1. Remembering only the good times

Odds are – you’ve made this mistake more than once, in more than just the relationship aspect. Our minds work in mysterious ways, and we tend to hold onto the good times more than the bad. For the first few months after the break-up, it’s quite likely you only remembered the bad. Because it’s still fresh. But the more time passed, the more they faded and were replaced by the good. 

Usually this happens because we are dis-satisfied with our current relationship. Or we’ve yet to embrace single life, and haven’t learned to love it properly. So that emphasizes the good from the relationship with the Ex. I could only remember the immense, Hollywood worthy love I had for Bill. All of those moments when he treated me like a princess. How sweet and damn charming he was. How masculine and strong he was. I could no longer remember anything beyond that, tall, strong frame, goofy smile and green eyes.

2. Ignoring fundamental problems in the relationship
2. Ignoring fundamental problems in the relationship

When we focus on the good, all of those fundamental, usually very basic problems you had, get pushed aside and shoved deep down. You ignore all of those arguments you had every five minutes. Obviously fights are inseparable parts of relationships. They can even attest to a healthy relationship at times. 

But with Bill and I for example, we were arguing all the time, about so many stupid and basic things. And I just got so blinded by the good, that I would play them down or be in denial. But looking back on them, they were so exhausting. They should have never been overlooked. There were moments where he literally made me feel so bad for stupid sh*t, that today I wouldn’t be caught dead enduring.

3. Comparing them to a current significant other
3. Comparing them to a current significant other

Comparison in general is a very risky and sticky business. Comparing yourself to others, comparing friends and relationships. It can very easily and quickly turn into an endless, downward spiral. It’s also the mistake that most likely ignites them all. One after the other. Lit up, out of control, like a thorn field on fire. I was nearing the end with Bob, and Bill’s birthday was coming up, which was what seeded him into my mind. I started remembering how much more of a macho, manly man he was. In my mind, especially when compared to poor Bob, Bill was perfect.

Comparing any two people, especially an Ex to your current relationship,  will only make you more miserable. If you’re still trying to move on, but compare them to every date you go on, you’ll never find anyone else. And it certainly won’t make you any happier to be single. It will always emphasize what you don’t have, what you’re missing. For me, it also caused me to treat Bob accordingly. I would’ve broken up with him either way, but it just made it that much more ugly. And that’s always excess trouble you don’t need. And unfair.

4. Making contact - thinking he is what you’re missing
4. Making contact – thinking he is what you’re missing

Just like a great game of Dominos, one block falls, they all follow. If you make one mistake, you make them all. Usually also destroying any progress made, setting us back quite a bit. Whether we’re still in our current relationship or not, contacting our Ex is a huge no-no. The relationship ended for a reason, you didn’t break-up for nothing. Odds are, you shouldn’t get back together. If you’re still in a current relationship, that’s a whole additional minefield.

Once you’ve contacted them, there’s no turning back. Now you’re probably also reminiscing together. Then you’re missing them even more. Remembering what it’s like. Butterflies also usually come back. And it all leads to forming a renewed relationship (of varying forms), which on the surface seems upgraded. But really, just doomed to fail. When I started texting with Bill, I couldn’t prevent the wave of yearning that hit. Causing me to be even more miserable with what I had, wanting to go back in time. Thinking I let go of “the love of my life”. The more we texted, the more I was desperate to see him.

5. Meeting up with them
5. Meeting up with them

Thinking about them, fantasizing even, is one thing. We all do it, and within reason, it’s okay. Actually doing something about it, contacting them, is a whole other thing. It makes it real, embroidering flesh and tendons. Then the meet-up is almost inevitable. When you see your Ex, there are so many more leeways and loopholes. Ones that aren’t in the confines of your mind, or on the other side of a screen. Being in the same room, changes the interaction and dynamics completely. It’s harder to resist, near impossible to keep up barriers and borders.

Seeing an ex again, is usually accompanied by a whiff of nostalgia. One that consumes your senses, causing you to forget why you broke-up in the first place. All you can remember in that moment is how well you fit. All you can think about is how much you missed them. It’s an optical illusion, one caused by loneliness of being single, or not finding the right person.

I went to see Bill after my breakup with Bob, solidifying to myself that I did the right thing by ending it. But as soon as I saw him, he was back on that pedestal. Setting back to when all I could see was him, and all my happiness was dependent on him. All I could remember was the immense love we shared, not the degrading fights. I even drove two hours (each way – on the same day) just to see him (hard falm palming).

big mistakes we make with our exes that cause us to lose ourselves and our way

6. Having sexual relations
6. Having sexual relations

If you’re contacting them, then you’re meeting up. And if you’re meeting up, you’re almost definitely having some kind of sexual relations. Where there is sex involved, I don’t think I need to tell you how much more complex it becomes. When you have sex (in any kind of shape or form), it’s like walking through a maze blindfolded. More question marks appear in the air, along with many unrealistic illusions. If you’re single, it prevents you from making any more progress towards being comfortable in your own company. Or self love. If you’ve had a whole other relationship in between, it weighs even heavier, on your already overloaded heart. If you’re just trying to date other people, you’ll never find any appeal in them, or actually try to fully get to know them.

The moment I stepped out of the car, and into Bill’s waiting arms… I was a goner. Being confined in a deserted office with him, only made it worse. I was so beyond confused and overwhelmed, it was a miracle I even managed to drive all the way to him. Neither of us had the words. We were both lost. So we just gave up on the talk, and let our bodies do the work. Which only inflated my confusion.

7. Trying to get back together
7. Trying to get back together

Most of us have that Ex we tried to get back together with. Whether it be in the weeks following the break-up. Or years later, after dating other people or just being single. Usually it’s a result of fear from singleness, or never finding anyone else. We’ve all had those moments with ourselves, where we get lost in the deep, dark corners of our minds. Caught in a web of self doubt, of mortifying thoughts. If you’re dating the wrong person, it becomes even worse. So we go back to the last person we remember being truly happy with. We’re so miserable in our present, with what we’ve got, that we overlook the ugliness that was in the past too. 

I was always in relationships. I couldn’t remember what it was like to be single. All I remembered was how much I didn’t like it. How much it was frowned upon in society. I was ashamed to tell people that I was single again (which now I know is ridiculous). So I did what I thought was the only logical thing (while ironically not thinking at all). I chased. I tried to get back together with him for all the wrong reasons. While ignoring all the signs on the way.

8. Ongoing sexual relations - no strings attached
8. Ongoing sexual relations – no strings attached

When you can’t get the relationship you want, you settle for what they’re willing to give you. And probably also thank the lord for even that. Because at least you have them in your life in some way, right? It’s actually pretty common that only one side wants to get back together. But the other side either also can’t let go completely, or just wants to take advantage and have some fun. So they agree to no strings attached.

There is absolutely no such thing as no strings attached. There is almost always at least some strings attached. I mean, come on, we’re human, it’s inevitable. We cannot always control our emotions. Problem is, we normally don’t acknowledge that, and just lie to ourselves. Convincing both us and them that “no worries, we can do this”. Bill still didn’t trust me, even though it has been years since our breakup. He couldn’t forget the pain, so he tried to save himself from it happening again. I tried to steer us towards a comeback, but all he was willing to give me, was friends with benefits. So I took it. At least that way, I had some part of him. But that wasn’t even close to being true.

9. Begging, nagging, hoping
9. Begging, nagging, hoping

Or in other words – demeaning yourself for them. Overlooking your own wants and needs, in favour of theirs. But you want more than they can give, so you start fighting for it. Even when it only makes everything worse. You start by begging. Trying to convince them in creative ways. Then you move on to nagging. Sending them texts, constantly trying to meet up. When they keep you at arms length, you start to hope.

I was so blinded by my need for Bill, that I couldn’t see clearly. Completely oblivious to the fact that I was on the back-burner, not on a “taking it slow” path. So I allowed myself to hope that all my begging and nagging was helping. But all the begging, nagging, and hoping in the world won’t help. If anything, they are just counterproductive, pushing them further away, rather than bringing them closer. Which really, is probably a blessing in disguise. Because you two have no business getting back together, just like Bill and I didn’t. Today I have enough presence of mind to know he did me a favour by saying no. 

10. Losing yourself and your way
10. Losing yourself and your way

The probable destination of all of these mistakes, is usually nowhere good. It’s a place where you lose sight of who you really are, and what you want to be. Deep down in the darkness, surrounded by fog and no visible way out. I got so lost in everything Bill, that when I finally realised enough is enough, I couldn’t recognise myself or my surroundings. What made it worse, was that he was the one to end it, leaving me with no choice. 

This left me in unknown territory. There were no signs pointing me in the right direction. I had no idea what to do with myself and where to go next. All I knew was that the only way out is inevitably painful, hard and exhausting. But at that point in my life, I had already been through a thing or two. In the past I was strong enough to fight through, and get out on my own. Without depending on others. So I knew I could do it again.

There are various ways to overcome these mistakes, although probably not 100%. But I think the most effect – and best – is by simply allowing yourself to be single for a while.

When you’re always jumping between relationships, you’re counting on those significant others for your happiness. Even without realizing it. You have so much less time for yourself, thus you never really learn to be comfortable in your own company. Not to mention, much needed time to heal. Only once I spent some real, significant, nurturing time with myself, did I learn how to truly embrace myself – scars, quirks and all. It took time, pain and patience, but eventually I grew so comfortable and whole – that I no longer feel like my happiness depends on anyone else. Anyone else is just an added bonus. 

As a result, I stopped chasing toxic people. I refused to make any more mistakes with Exes or any other kind of relationship – platonic or romantic. Where once I felt I had no control over my emotions, and would make so many mistakes without even thinking or realizing… Now I am strong and independent enough to know how to NOT do all that. Which again, was something I only managed to develop from being single.

Stay strong and keep fighting,
All the best,
Michal B.L.

P.S. please share and spread the love! 🙂

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us

Alexander Graham Bell

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Hey there! My name is Michal, I was born and raised in Israel, currently I live in a small city near Jerusalem. I'm a certified life coach, and in my Single Life Blog, I write about single life in all its glory and share Single Life Lessons to help you embrace yourself and your singlehood. I offer tips and advice for a better, happy single life, how to be independent, feel comfortable in your own skin and company, and how to not chase toxic people - all of which are based on my own 7-year single life experience.


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