match.com
happen
homefeedbackarchivesaboutmatch.com

Relationship Relapse


Reeling from a recent breakup and wondering if you should give your ex one more shot? Read this much-needed Rx and call us in the morning.

By Meredith Broussard

n medical terms, a “relapse” happens when you think you’ve suffered through the worst of an illness and feel like you’re on the road to recovery, until bam!—out of the blue, your symptoms return, sending you back to bed with a box of Kleenex. Now, “relationship relapse,” on the other hand, is not an official medical diagnosis. But that doesn’t mean it’s not very, very real to the people it strikes.

Here’s what happens: Just when you think you’re starting to get over your ex and realize all the flaws in your relationship, you run into him or her somewhere. Maybe it’s accidental, or you make an excuse to get together—perhaps for the sake of closure. You try to be just friends, sure. But you end up hanging out, and maybe you start sitting dangerously close to one another. Promises are made. There is kissing, a brief feeling of euphoria, and then bam! You’re back in bed together, along with all of your old dysfunctional
“Relationship relapse” is not an official medical diagnosis, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real to the people it strikes.
patterns: renting movies, fighting over silly things, wondering if there is anyone better out there.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar—or maybe you’re living it as you read this—I’m here to warn you that relationship relapse can be deadly to your dating life. That’s because by revisiting your past, you’re taking yourself off the market—thus preventing you from finding The One. So, the next time you’re tempted to slip back into an old relationship, check out these tips instead.

Rx #1: Purge ex-related toxins from your environment
You’ll forget your ex faster without any reminders, so you should immediately begin to remove all traces of him or her from your life. First step: cell phone. Erase your ex’s name, digits, friends, pictures. This way, you’re not tempted to call—and you won’t “accidentally” dial (Freud would say there are no accidents). Next, purge your computer: Erase photos, e-mails, files, anything having to do with your ex. If you have trouble letting go, burn everything onto a CD and hide it someplace. Finally, take all the physical evidence (clothes, gifts, artwork, sporting equipment, etc.), and get rid of it. You may want to have a yard sale—this is the perfect opportunity to clear your clutter and make way for the new single you. If you get hives at the idea of throwing away perfectly good stuff, try making a box: Take everything that reminds you of your ex, pack it up in a cardboard box, and stash it in your attic.

Rx #2: Avoid using alcohol as anesthesia
Drinking, while an effective way to numb post-breakup pain, also lowers your resistance to infection—from germs and from ex-lovers. Think of it this way: When you get sick, you get emotional. Maybe you feel sorry for yourself, maybe you decide you don’t just want your ex, but you need your ex to help you through. And once your ex drops by with orange juice and tissues, it’s all over.

Tempted to slip back into a relationship? Know that this decision can be deadly to your dating life.
And, of course, we probably don’t need to tell you that getting blotto can also lead to Drink and Dial episodes, where it seems like a good idea to call your ex at 3 A.M. No surprise here, but these calls never go well. We’re not saying you need to be a teetotaler, but it’s best to figure out what’s driving your urge to imbibe. See which way your mood is headed by asking yourself: Do you want a refill because you’re having fun with your friends, or because you’re not having fun since you wish your ex were around? If you’re leaning toward the latter answer, order a seltzer.

Rx #3: Safeguard yourself against emotional stress
You’re cruising along with your recovery when wham!—you get canned from your job, a pet dies, or you hit some other personal crisis. Think it’s OK to lean on your ex for a spell until you’re back on your feet? Tempting, sure, but no. Just ask Ellen Rosenholz from Philadelphia, PA: “My ex-boyfriend said, ‘I don’t want a girlfriend’ so we broke up,” she recalls. “Then, my pet died and I had to call him. And he had to take me out to dinner to comfort me… I realized that I missed him.” They got back together immediately, but it didn’t last long; he was compassionate, but he still wasn’t ready to commit.

Since times of personal crisis are so unstable, the impulse to run towards someone who’s served as a rock in your recent past is understandable. Keep in mind, though, that your ex isn’t the only person who cares about you. Your mom, dad or best friend from high school would probably all be happy to come to your emotional aid. Plan ahead and identify a friend or family member you can call in times of need.

Rx #4: Abstain from ex sex at all costs
Breakup sex, once more for old times’ sake, friends with benefits—all of these things are delusions if you’re really trying to avoid relationship relapse. One midnight booty call leads to another, and before you know it you’re back to the same old argument over who gets first dibs on the Sunday Op-Ed page. Rachel Cope from Miami can relate: “I was dating a guy for a year and a half and actually had planned on ending the relationship—then he broke up with me,” she recalls. “We did the breakup sex thing, which led to an awful limbo in which we weren't together but I gave myself up at the drop of a hat, and then went to my room and cried hysterically…Then I realized that even if things did go back to normal between the two of us, that normal had never been that great.” Rachel took decisive action and ended the relationship.

Need some ideas of what to do instead? Make a list of all the things you disliked about your ex or about the relationship. Carry it in your wallet and consult it whenever you’re tempted to re-establish intimate contact. Then, get busy (not in that way!): Pick up a new hobby, go on an adventure, or travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. Join a club or group that involves meeting new people and getting out of the house regularly. You never know who’s out there…and that’s your better bet than revisiting your past.


Meredith Broussard is the editor of a new anthology The Encyclopedia of Exes: 26 Stories by Men of Love Gone Wrong. Her website is www.failedrelationships.com.
Related Articles

print send feedback subscribe to match.com
QUICK POLL
Women: How do you feel about men with facial hair?

I find beards/mustaches attractive

Clean-shaven's sexier to me

Browse singles in your area.
match.com
About Match.com | Your Privacy | Terms of Use
Contact Us | Advertise with Us | Become an Affiliate

Copyright 2011 Match.com, L.L.C.

partner sites:  HSN  Citysearch  Evite  Expedia  Hotels  Ticketmaster  ReserveAmerica  Hotwire   LendingTree  Gifts.com 
Entertainment  TripAdvisor  CondoSaver  TravelNow  ClassicVacations  LiveDaily  Udate