The easiest thing isn't always the right thing.
There are certain things that always seem like an awesome idea at the time, but leave you feeling like a total moron in retrospect. If you've ever worn pigtails past the age of seven, recorded yourself singing, or hoarded a beanie baby collection in hopes of becoming an eventual millionaire, then I'm sure that you feel me on this one.
Unfortunately, the same "What the hell was I thinking?" question tends to run through our minds when reflecting on an on-again-off-again relationship. Sure, are many pros to consider when contemplating sending that "Hi … I miss you" text message (the comfort of familiarity with the added bonus of having sex without raising your number, to name a few), but most of the time the odds of forming a more successful romance the second (…or third) time around aren't so great.
Here, we polled men and women on what they learned from getting back together with a ghost from boyfriends and girlfriends past.
1. "People are who they are and can only change when and how they want to."
Kelly was involved in an on-again-off-again relationship for over two years, which she now describes as the most tumultuous time of her life.
"I guess you could say that this was my first 'real' relationship, so I learned a lot from it, and in hindsight wouldn't take it back," she said. "He was away at school, which obviously complicated things from the start, but he didn't hook up with other people, or even speak to girls as far as I knew — he was way too awkward for that."
Despite his loyalty, Kelly wasn't too convinced of his commitment to the relationship. Even when he was around, she was never his priority and always put her in "a backburner." When she finally broke away from the resentment that she and her ex circled back to over and over again, she realized that she was never going to get what she wanted from him.
"I realized that the things I want in a relationship aren't crazy — or out of the question. He had so many emotional detachment issues that I so desperately wanted to fix, because I thought he would be the person that I wanted him to be … boy was I wrong. Now, I'm in an incredibly healthy relationship that is night and day from the on-again-off-again bullsh*t I was doing before, but I had to learn what I want from a partner, instead of trying to change him."
2. "No, we are never, ever getting back together, and your penis is still small."
When Katie severed ties with the guy she lost her virginity to, she decided to take full-advantage of her newly single status by gaining some valuable experience between the sheets. "I realized, during my sexcapades, that my ex-boyfriend actually had a really small penis ... compared to all of my new victims."
Soon, Katie and "The-Ex," as she now refers to him, began casually seeing each other again, more out of boredom than anything else. "I was just so curious to see what the sex would be like five years later," she said.
Her valuable lesson from revisiting the bed she lost her virginity in? "His penis was still tiny, and jack rabbit sex still isn't cool."
3. "When a couple gets back together, they're minimizing their reasons for breaking up."
Especially if the breakup is based on mileage and neither party is willing to move and close the distance between them. When Tim fell in love with Ashley, a year his senior, both of them knew that their time spent together was limited, as Ashley had plans to move for work within the year.
Neither of them was keen on the idea of a "planned breakup" and let the romance develop naturally, but eventually their impending expiration date was too hard to ignore, and they split up right before Ashley left.
"When she eventually made the move, she obviously wasn't comfortable with her new surroundings right away, and came back to visit the very next weekend, with this crazy need to see me," Tim said. "I went to her, and everything was wonderful, I fell in love all over again, and we got back together."
While their first month doing the long-distance thing was fine, Ashley told Tim that she needed space, and wanted to take a break shortly after. It was tough, but Tim accepted it. "What I never saw at the time though was that when she felt alone, she ran to me, but when she felt good, I was on the backburner again," he said.
The two tried one last time a few months later, right around the holidays, otherwise known as panic-relationship-season, but sure enough, Ashley became distant, and Tim was exhausted. "Apparently, she had been seeing other people, and I was pretty crushed," he said.
4. "Continuing to see each other was holding both of us back from potentially finding someone we could be in a happier, healthier relationship with."
Bianca spent six years of her life in a relationship that she didn't realize was abusive. The two started dating her senior year in high school and they tried to make the long-distance-relationship work after John left to play football in college, but Bianca became increasingly aware that things weren't going to work out.
The next year, Bianca went away to college, but because John originally blamed the distance, the two began seeing each other on-and-off when they were home for breaks, though the trust was already broken.
"He became suddenly skeptical of my every move, always questioning who I was with, and if I was with any guys, and when I answered truthfully, saying yes — because I went to college, not a convent — he would accuse me of cheating on him," she said. Fights became more frequent and more aggressive, but Bianca stayed, hoping it would work.
"The final straw was when he became physically aggressive with me, when I tried leaving one night mid-argument and he physically pulled me back and restrained me. I told him it was over, and that was the last time he would ever touch me. But during the next few weeks, I started receiving random notes, flowers, gifts etc.," Bianca said.
At the time, Bianca took his so-called apologetic actions as an attempt to win her back, but she now says that his behavior border-lined stalking. After finding out that many of John's outbursts were fueled by an ongoing drug problem that Bianca didn't know existed, she cut things off for good. The breakup caused her into a severe depression state and had to seek therapy and go on medication.
Although her heart is on the mend, Bianca now realizes that she needs to be more considerate of herself the next time she's with someone. "You need to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else, and be okay being on your own in order to have a successful, healthy relationship."