On-Again, Off-Again — Why You Keep Going Back To Relationships After You Break Up

Photo: Junior Moran on Unsplash
on again off again relationships back together after a breakup
Contributor
Love, Heartbreak

In the Vietnamese language, the nickname for a person’s life partner is "my home". They refer to their significant others this way, casually. They say things like, “My home works in an office across town.” Or things like, “Oh he can’t come to the phone right now, my home is in the restroom.”.

We all are just looking for someone to move into, to drive up to after a long day of work, to start a fire in, to keep us warm.

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We’re looking for someone to cook our meals in and store our clothes. We’re looking for comfort stability and shelter. We are looking for peace.

While we are looking for these wonderful things, sometimes we get stuck in an apartment. We want to buy the apartment, but something isn’t right. Perhaps its too cold, or too closed off. Maybe there is not enough natural light. But we like the sconces, so we keep on renting.

We say were going to leave the apartment, especially because we don’t plan on buying it, but then the apartment still keeps us mostly warm in the winter. Or maybe it was our first grown up apartment and it’s hard to let go. Or the apartment will flash us that sweet sconcey smile and say the three words an apartment can say to make any future home buyer, go on renting for the rest of her life. “I miss you.”

Isn’t it so lovely to be missed?

Someone in this world is sitting in a room somewhere, feeling your presence so wholly that knowing you aren’t actually there, leaves fever aches in their heart.

There are plenty of reasons to break up with someone. Maybe it was you that initiated the split, maybe it was him, maybe it was mutual, but you broke up. Which one of our heart strings is reigning us in and attempting to send us back into a relationship that wasn’t working? Loneliness? Love? Guilt?

It doesn’t all happen at once. Just texts at first. And then phone calls. You go out for drinks. Then night caps. You start spending nights together again. You hold each other.

You realize how much you missed the warmth of his body. The intimacy of knowing how someone else’s body moves, as if it were your own. You missed loving someone. You missed loving him. It ends. It starts. You love him. He lives in your love, and you in his.

But you do not hold the deed to each other’s hearts. You are equal parts lease holder and landlord, lover and liar. He is not yours, but you hold him anyway.

Loneliness is one of the biggest driving forces in the rekindling of a sour romance.

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It never happens in the day time either. It happens when you’re laying in bed, feeling like the only person who has ever had their heart broken. That raw ache in your chest. A resounding fear that your ex is moving on as you lay their alone. That he has likely already met, and is currently bedding, the woman of his dreams while you lay awake in his old t-shirt feeling used and unlovable.

The thought of him moving on in your mind means that whatever you two shared, no longer exists in his world. You think when you first started dating, and you would look into each other’s eyes, and the feeling of your hearts trying to leap out of your chests into the others. You wonder if his heart still does that for you. Even if yours doesn’t for him.

You wonder if you will ever make someone else’s heart leap. You wonder if someone else will make your heart leap.

So you call him.

Sometimes you just feel guilty. You’re doing okay. You loved him, truly and deeply once. But now you’ve broken up, maybe you still love him maybe you don’t, but you did break up. And you are okay. He calls you, telling you that he isn’t doing well. He tells you that he was never happier than when he was with you. He tells you he is wrought with anxiety, that he is depressed. He asks you if he can come over.

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When you see him you remember how comforting his presence once was in your life. You can see that you are still the comforting presence in his life. You remember how happy you two once were. You try to open your heart to him again. Maybe you do it successfully.

But there was a reason you closed your heart to begin with. Can you turn that light back on in your heart? Will it go off again?

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Love will always keep us on the hook.

You likely had your reasons for breaking up. Maybe he wanted to get married and you weren’t ready. Or you wanted to be a mother, but he didn’t want to be father.  Perhaps you wanted to discover yourselves outside of one another.

But you walk through your life knowing you love him. Every breath you take fills your lungs with ice cold heartache. You remember his laugh. You have to rub your ears because they ring, craving to hear that laugh. You lay in bed remembering how it felt, the heat of his lullaby breath on your cheek. Your cheek is so cold when its lonely.

Maybe you get back together. Maybe you found out that you don’t like who you are without each other.  Maybe he agrees to never get married. Maybe you agree to never have children.

Is it enough for you? Are these sacrifices worth an inhale of love, a heartwarming laugh, and a warm cheek?

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Picture a thunderstorm. You are in your car, in your driveway, and you tell yourself to stay put. It is worth it to wait out the rain, rather than get cold and wet on your way inside. You know the rain will go on for hours, and your house warm and dry, and the delicious leftover pizza in the fridge is calling your name, but you stay. You need to get out of the car if you want the pizza. You need to get wet and deal with the rain to get to a place that is warm and dry.

Sometimes you need to leave someone behind, to go home.

We all deserve someone who will hang their pictures on the walls of our hearts. We deserve to plant a garden in mind of another. We all deserve someone who will protect us from the rain showers, and for whom we can warm by our fireplace. We all deserve to love someone. We all deserve to come home.

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