Click here to read part 1: The Psychology of Breaking Up: Part 1
“I am done with you!”
“Fine! You never deserved me anyway!”
For all who have been through this know it from the bottom of your heart that this is easier said than done. When you leave a broken relationship behind, promise yourself that you will never look back— often time, it does not always end up the way you wanted it to be. Not even after you have been through the five stages of grief and loss (read from previous article about the process of letting go of a relationship), and thought that you could move on gracefully to enjoy a new beginning.
You know that you are not over it, when you find yourself posting depressing articles or quotes about love so much that even your whole social circle starts to miss your ex.
You know that you are not over it, when you still secretly stalk your ex on all their social media profiles you could possibly find.
You know you are not over it, when you miss your ex so much but still try your best to suppress the overwhelming urge of texting them in the middle of the night.
You know you are not over it…
When you walk pass a familiar spot where you two used to call it your secret spot and you secretly hope that you could replay the whole scene again (oh shit…).
Not everyone has to go through this but unfortunately, many are stuck here, half-drowning in this self-created abyss. A part of them are excited about the new beginning but there is also a voice inside their head pulling them back into the swirl of their nostalgic memory, luring them into getting back with their ex.
Frankly, this is not a guidebook about whether or not you should get back to your old relationship but this will be helpful for you to understand better if you are struggling with this dilemma. These three reasons below explain why you are behaving the way you behave and hopefully you gain some insight that is related to your own unique experience.
1) Fear of the unknown influences us to choose the pain, which is more familiar.
Human beings are naturally fearful of the unknown. There is this saying by H.P. Lovecraft,
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. When we are in a car we want to know which route lead to our destination. When we are eating something we want to know what we are eating. If I ask you to eat a strange looking food offered by a stranger you probably would never take that offer. We are a bunch of insecure and obsessive human being (just kidding).
Similarly in a relationship, after breaking up with your ex, you are lost in uncertainties, wondering if you can find someone better. You do not know who is next. You do not know whether or not you will ever find that someone again. All the questioning can be torturing to your mind and probably your already broken heart. Hence, some choose the easy way out, which is to jump back right into their old relationship. Yes it is painful, but at least it is a familiar one.
2) Sunk-cost effect: You think you have sacrificed so much, might as well…
You might have heard of this. “We have been together for so long, what a waste if I gave up now.” “We have been through so much in this relationship, no harm to try again.” Sunk cost effect is a natural tendency of human to continue investing in something which is clearly not working, for they have already incurred the “cost” that is now “sunk” and cannot be recovered. Therefore, instead of cutting of the losses and move on, you convince yourself that the effort you have put into this relationship deserves a second chance—over and over again.
3) Nostalgia is a seductive liar but flashback is involuntary.
Nostalgia is a natural emotional state in which involves a bittersweet longing for an idealized past. When you experience a break up, the sudden emptiness erodes your soul so much that you crave to fill the void. Hence, you reminisce the past, mostly fleeting moments of joy with a tinge of sorrow — and flashback is part of the package that you cannot avoid. Those happy memories in the past all integrated into vivid images and replay itself involuntary in your brain as if you are reliving the whole experience again. In time like this, many would forget about the reason why they left in the first place and quickly return to their past relationship. But the truth is, it is not your ex whom you miss, it is the just the memory.
Rarely there will be a relationship so bad that it does not worth a second glance. No matter how heartbreaking a relationship can be, there will always be unforgettable moments of happiness — and that is what makes it so hard to leave. So now, ask yourself why are you going back to the past? Is it really worth a second chance? Or is it just a fallacy? No, you do not need to answer me.
Because you know, after all…
It is about choice.