The Real Reason You Keep Going Back To Your Toxic Ex

Familiarity isn't always a good thing.

photo of exes torn in half ThiagoSantos / Shutterstock

If you've found yourself in a toxic cycle of breaking up and getting back together, you probably already know that making things work isn't easy.

You've also likely wondered why you keep going back to your toxic ex in the first place. Is it because your self-worth is really that low, or is there something more going on?

Licensed therapist Jeff Guenther dives into the real reason why you keep breaking up and getting back together with your toxic ex.

@therapyjeff Why do you keep going back to that toxic ex that you know is going to hurt you?#mentalhealth #therapy #therapytiktok #dating #relationshiptips #datingadvice ♬ original sound - TherapyJeff

The Reason You Keep Going Back To Your Toxic Ex

The reason why you keep getting back with your ex has to do with familiarity. You see, you're so used to the chaos they bring into your life that this is where you find comfort. And stepping outside of these carefully drawn lines can understandably make you scared and uneasy.


Guenther says, "Because known pain is more familiar and comfortable than unknown pain."

However, why is this the case? Well, to put it plainly, we are freaking idiots.

Yes, we know our ex is bad for us and we know they are still emotionally immature. Yet, we continuously look for excuses to stay and hold on.

Guenther says, "Because the unknown pain of being single or starting something up with someone else is too daunting."

So, to avoid the discomfort of trying something new, you end up getting back together with your ex.


But let's face it, deep down you know this isn't the greatest choice. That in the long run, being with someone this toxic can take a toll of you both mentally and physically.

So, rather than rekindling things with our ex, what should we be doing instead?

Guenther suggests, "Instead, welcome the unknown pain that you totally can fucking get through anything."

Don't be scared to change yourself. And try stepping outside of your comfort zone every now and then. Buy that new dress or change your hairstyle.

However, as we all know, it's easier said than done. And getting over your toxic ex is simply not that easy.

So, what steps can you take to finally move on from your ex? Well, Headspace might have a few suggestions.


RELATED: What Your Long History Of Toxic Relationships Is Trying To Tell You, According To A Therapist

3 Ways To Move On From Your Ex

1. Give yourself space

Once you call it quits with your ex try and give yourself the space to heal. Now, this doesn't mean you have to shut them out completely, says Headspace.

However, until you've healed then it's best to limit contact as much as possible.

2. Keep yourself busy

One of the best ways to cope after a breakup is to keep yourself busy. Because let's face it, after breaking up you'll have a lot of free time on your hands.

So, use this time to explore new hobbies like painting or exercising. Or, use this time to catch up with old hobbies that you haven't done in a while.


RELATED: 4 Reasons Your Toxic Ex Keeps Crawling Back To You

3. Surround yourself with friends and family

Being able to have someone to lean on is important for getting over a breakup.

According to the CDC, "When people are socially connected and have stable and supportive relationships, they are more likely to make healthy choices and to have better mental and physical health outcomes."

Moreover, staying connected can help us get through those tough times and deal with that overwhelming anxiety, stress, or depression.


So, schedule a girl's night or spend an hour a day FaceTiming your bestie. The most important thing is to surround yourself with love and positivity.

Listen, getting over an ex isn't easy. And you might find yourself stuck in the toxic cycle of breaking up and getting back together.

However, if you can understand why it's happening and what you need to move on, you'll find it a lot easier to close this chapter of your life and find something better.


RELATED: Why We Hold On So Tight To Relationships That Hurt Us Most

Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.