Can You Stay Away From The Flame?
July 11, 2012
By: Mari Myhre
It is said by some that ‘getting back with an ex-boyfriend is like going to a garage sale and buying back your own crap’ yet many of us still do it. Mari Myhre investigates the reasons why some keep returning to their past lovers.
Some women move on from their previous relationships faster than you can say ‘It’s over’. Others end up spending years trying to get over their past lovers, holding on to a deep desire that one day they’ll find each other again and live happily ever after. So, if the opportunity comes along they go back hoping the relationship will be different. After time, they realise things are just as they’ve always been, and once again the relationship ends with a breakup. So even though we know this from past experiences, why do some of us still keep going back?
“You have to think of what attracts two people to each other,” says psychotherapist Stephen Parks. “If you go into the depth of the subject, you’ll have a look at something in psychology we call animal magnetism,” he adds. For us that can’t understand psychobabble, animal magnetism explains what attracts two people to each other in an unconscious way. Which simply means putting it into words why you love someone can be hard. “You can’t say I love my boyfriend because he’s such a good cook or because he’s so good in bed, because there are a lot of men out there with the same qualities,” says Stephen. “So what happens is that when people are so attracted to someone, they can’t define why, because at the end of the day it means more than that.”
He can change
A factor that plays an important role when it comes to why some people feel they need to have their past lovers in their lives is change. “Very often people are convinced that if someone has any faults, they can change so the relationship will get better,” says Stephen. This is something we particularly believe when we hear stories about, that friend of a friend who went through this awful breakup with her boyfriend and ended up marrying the guy. “Sometimes people can change, but it’s not the most common thing,” says Stephen. “You can change your clothes, your haircut, but changing your personality is highly unlikely.”
So what happens is that this animal magnetism they share together overrides all the nonsense you have to put up with, and when it becomes intense Stephen describes the situation as a burning fire. “If you play with a flame and burn yourself, you won’t do it again, but then you forget the pain and you start doing it again,” he says. “You simply forget how bad the relationship was, how hurt you were, how upset you got and how that person made you feel.” So you keep going back because he seemed to have changed, and you believe it will be different this time. “It’s about being hopeful,” says Stephen. “Because you’re still very attracted to them, and you haven’t met anyone else that has taken their place.”
When a long-term relationship ends you go from a stage where you are used to nearly doing and sharing everything with someone to some times no contact at all. “Not only do you have to get used to not seeing this person anymore, but you also have to accept the fact that the trusting bond you once shared with your previous lover is gone,” says Stephen. Realising that something precious you once had is over can be difficult. “Just getting used to doing simple things such as going to bed alone can be a challenge, and then it’s so easy to start thinking of your ex,” he adds.
You’ll never find anyone like him again
When you break up with someone you’re not only losing a lover, but also a friend. “You lose someone you once had strong feelings for, someone who might meant the whole world to you,” says Stephen. The person who knows everything about you and the person you imagined going grey with is suddenly not in your life anymore. “Then it’s easy to start thinking that you’ll never find anyone like him, because if it didn’t work out with him, why would it with someone else?” he says. “You simply lose your self- confidence because you think that if your ex-boyfriend couldn’t hold on to you to the very last, who else can?”
Don’t live in the past
“Going back to an ex isn’t very healthy or stable, and it also prevents you from moving on,” says Stephen. There will always be some feelings in the picture when it comes to a person you’ve been in a relationship with. “That’s because of the animal magnetism they share,” he says. “And it can only change if they felt something strongly for someone else.”
Think of why it didn’t work out
Mia, 24, was with her ex-boyfriend for four years before they decided to end it once and for all after being on and off for nearly one and half years. “Every time we split up I always tried to push him to the back of my mind, but most of the times we ended things on a bad note. After a time apart, one of us constantly found out that we wanted to do something about the situation, so we started calling each other again,” she says. “Hearing his voice always got me thinking of the good memories we shared together which always ended up with me going back hoping it would be different. A few weeks together we realised it was all the same, and once again he left me heartbroken.”
At the end of the day, coming to terms with your newly single status is always hard -especially when it’s so easy to get caught up fantasising about how your life would have been if you were still with your ex. But it’s also so much easier to think of why it didn’t work out. Perhaps it’s about time to learn from the women who find it easy to move on from previous relationships and say to yourself: ‘I went from my ex, to the next.’