Don’t Get Back With Your Ex!

A friend recently broke up with her long time boyfriend, and then a few days later posted a link that explains that getting back with an ex is just bad news – and now science backs that up! Some researchers at Kansas State University did a study and found out that often, it’s just better to break up and not get back together, as getting back together can often make the couple more miserable. Have you ever had a rough breakup where after you focused on the good aspects of your relationship? I did and had a good friend give me some excellent advice – she told me to list all of the bad things, even if I saw them as minor. Then, whenever I started to think, “Oh, my ex would love this book! I should text them” or wonder if they would want to go to a concert, I could pluck that list out of my bag and hopefully be reminded that the past is better left in the past. 

One of the researchers, Amber Vennum, discovered that about 40% of college students were in cyclical relationships – they just never fully ended their relationship and kept getting back together. The findings also showed that individuals in cyclical relationships “tended to be less satisfied with their partner; had worse communication; made more decisions that negatively affected the relationship; had lower self-esteem; and had a higher uncertainty about their future together”, according to the article on Medical Xpress. These couples are also less likely to engage in behaviors that benefit the relationship.

When the researchers started to look at how cyclical relationships impacted marriage, they found it continued to be negative. The overall satisfaction in the marriage decreases with time, versus couples in noncyclical relationships. Further, being in a cyclical relationship makes a couple more likely to end up in a trial separation during the first three years that they’re married.

The findings show that if people are in a cyclical dating relationship, it’s likely that they’ll be in a cyclical marriage. This leads me (not anything I’ve read from their research, although maybe they’ll go in this direction?) to wonder if it’s just something that stays with the person unless they actively work on it. I’ve done research on intimate partner violence (this is NOT to say that cyclical relationships are violent), and individuals who witness intimate partner violence as a child are more likely to either perpetrate intimate partner violence in some manner in their own relationships or be a victim of it. So, as an example, if an individual is a victim of emotional abuse but leaves their partner, they’re still more likely to either perpetrate or get into another relationship with some form of intimate partner violence. They need to actively work on stopping it.

I’ve ended relationships, and had people break up with me. Relationships in my life have ended for all sorts of reasons, but I can easily say that every dating relationship has ended for a reason – and there’s a very good reason why I should not be with any of those people today. For one person and I, we are great friends but just dysfunctional when we date. I do completely understand why it’s hard to stay away from some people, especially if it was a longer relationship. With one relationship, I felt like trying and not ending things because we’d been together so long. I’d tell myself that there were things I liked and it wasn’t that bad (no, it actually was!).

Have you gotten back with an ex? Did it work out or not?

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About Holly Moyseenko

Holly Moyseenko is a sex educator living in Ohio. She is an advocate of positive and healthy sexuality. Holly currently works for a non-profit health organization as a health educator, and also teaches workshops that focus on many topics within the realm of healthy sexuality. In her spare time, she also is an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, gardens, reads anything within reach, drinks copious amounts of tea, and naps with her two dogs.

  • Stefanie

    I dated my current boyfriend in high school for about six months, and we had a nasty break-up and spent a lot of time hating each other. But we never really stopped loving each other either, I think we just needed time to grow up and sort out our issues. We got back together about a year later, and we have been together for two-and-a-half years, and are planning to get an apartment together when we’re financially stable. I could not be happier with our relationship. I think it really depends on the situation, but I just want to point out that sometimes, it can work.