I was reminded of his words the other day when I went to text this guy I’ve been hooking up with on and off with for a while. We’re currently in an off-period, but I found myself missing him, despite the fact that he’s a douchebag. I literally heard Tyler’s voice in my head as I went searching for the Post-it with this guy’s number on it that I’d hid from myself when I deleted it, in one of my stronger “I don’t need this bullshit!” moments. Tyler’s voice made me I stop hunting for the Post-it and start thinking about my inability to walk away from this guy. Why do I keep doing the same thing – or in this case, the same guy – over and over again and expecting different results? I discovered that part of the reason, on top of my own fucked up psyche, which is convinced he’s my future husband, is that today’s world makes it pretty easy not to move on. Instead we’re stuck with dating déjà vu, leading us back to the same people over and over again. So why exactly is it so difficult to make a breakup stick?
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a guy friend when he said he was “unofficially off the market.” My reply, “Oh, so you have a girlfriend?” His answer? “No.” So what the hell does that mean? Part of the problem is that we are often very unsure if we are actually dating someone in the first place. Today’s relationship statuses seem so vague – are we dating? In a relationship? Hooking up? Friends with benefits? Just having sex with an ex? And given that we’ve been conditioned not to ask the “What the hell are we?” question so as not to send a guy screaming for the hills, we oftentimes have no idea what our relationship status is with someone we are involved with. Even the term breakup is loose. If something just ends suddenly, did you even break up? Nothing is black and white anymore and there are lots of shades of gray. So it’s no wonder that relationship round two can happen so often – half the time, we didn’t even know it was a relationship in the first go round.
The Slippery Slope of Social Media.
In the olden days, when TV could only be watched on an actual television set and phones were hard wired into walls, breaking up with someone meant that it was pretty much a done deal. Maybe you’d bump into him at a bar or a party, but for the most part, actually seeing someone and knowing what they were up to took a pretty major effort. Of course, today all we need is our phone and we can instantly know what our former flame is up to, because God forbid we “lose” the breakup war by unfriending him on any form of social media. While what we don’t know can’t hurt us, what we can find out can bring up all kinds of feelings. All it takes is one Instagram picture of him looking semi hot to make us forget all of the reasons we dumped him in the first place.
Loneliness + Phone + Drinks = Poor Decisions.
It’s Friday night and I’m sitting at the bar while my friend Lindsay sucks face with some guy with questionable facial hair. The loneliness sets in and I’d be happy to have someone – anyone – to play hide the salami with tonight. Or to watch Netflix and eat pizza with, whichever. And obviously the most logical person to reach out to at this moment would be my ex. Again, in our mothers’ day, my guess is that the feelings were still the same, but the action was different. Back then, if you were drunk at the bar and tempted to reach out, you had to wait until you got home or God forbid, found some change and a pay phone at which point, you probably couldn’t even reach him, because he was out too. Chances are, between the time you first got the itch to call, and the time you got to a phone, you’d wise up or maybe even forget about it. But now with our phones in our hands at all times and no ability to recall text messages (SOMEONE GET ON THAT, PLEASE), we’re able to reach out instantly, leaving no time to actually think about it. Deleting that number doesn’t work – even if you can’t find the hidden post-it, there’s always Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and GroupMe. The ease of communication makes falling back into old habits pretty easy.
Convenience of Sex.
I like sex. That’s no secret. But I tend to veer on the side of prude when it comes to randoms, so when the urge strikes, I’m much more likely to text the ex who gave me multiple orgasms, than go pick up an unproven commodity at the bar. And once you start having sex with an ex, it’s a pretty easy slide back into old habits.
The “Big” Effect.
We watched Big and Carrie break up a million and one times, and they wound up together, right? I mean, Kate Middleton became a princess by waiting out a few breakups with Prince William, so of course it’s entirely possible it could work out for you two. It’s pretty rare that we see examples of “we met, we got into a relationship, we got married and we’re happy” these days. In fact, most of the relationships we see – both in real life and in the movies or on TV – are fraught with drama, and yes, breakups. So it almost seems totally normal to be a hopeful romantic and continue to go back to failed relationships with the hope that it will be different this time.
But while it seems like having a sequel to a relationship is more normal than ever these days, we probably need to start asking ourselves when we are on round three, four, or five if staying in the break up/get back together cycle is really a good idea. Yes, it’s easier than going out and finding someone new, but at the end of the day, there’s a reason you broke up in the first place, and that doesn’t go away just because you did for a little while..