12 August 2015

Why Did She Go Back to Him?

Image of a person in tears getting punched while his heart is splitting in half.

So just about everybody knows someone (or is that someone) who goes back to an ex after a terrible breakup. Many cases, these same someones are repeat offenders with the same exes. It's bewildering to the rest of us! Why on earth go back to obvious unhealthy situations? Even if they did exaggerate things at the time, clearly they are so much better without that ex and deserve so much more. So why don't they learn?

It's such a common issue among some circles that the moment friends and neighbors found out about my marital situation they were quick to verify I would divorce my husband. Some even went so far as to outright tell me, "Don't you be one of those women who starts thinking she needs a man," and "You give that man hell and don't you dare go back to him. He don't deserve you." (Damn right!)

So let me reiterate what's on everyone's mind these days: Shit ain't easy. It's tempting to make the situation easier by telling my husband to get a truck and come get us. Not for any desire to be with him, but for the stresses it would eliminate (more like trading-off) and opportunities it could open up that are a tad bit easier to navigate. Any thoughts of taking the jerk who walked out on us back are more strategic than anything romantic.

But there's moments creeping in where the romantic side sneaks up and jabs my brain with a dose of "Oh but don't you miss him?" concoction.

And finally the answer clicks. We can psychoanalyze all day long. Or we can make it simple and fail to recognize our distorted image of what love is by claiming that going back to an ex who wrong their significant other is a case of "true love." (If you're a psych major dork like me, you'd rather jump into analyzing not only the couple but also the ones justifying the poor decision.)

So here I am, questioning the whole "Don't go back" logic. When I met him he was good man. Sure he built our relationship on lies, but with the truth exposed now, surely I can move past it in time. What made him a good man during that brief point in his life? What if he manages to make that man come back?

Then I asked myself why. Why even question these things?

And I'm reminded of what my doula explained about giving birth. We have a baby. We go through unimaginable pain. Some of us go through unimaginable trauma. Instead of saying, "Screw doing that again!" we see a baby and decide to have another one. And then repeat the process. Why? Because we forget. It's not that we don't remember any of what happened. We just forget enough of the details that we become overwhelmed with the joy of having a baby and it's not until the birth process kicks in that we remember why we said we weren't going to do it anymore.

That's exactly what my thinking feels like!

So why do someones go back to their abusive exes? Because they forget. They clearly remember that they've been wronged. They never want to go through it again. But with distance and time to dull the memories, they forget just how bad it really was. It's not even a matter of intelligence - we're just programmed that way. Mystery solved.

Do you agree with this answer? Have you ever gone back to someone who hurt you? What were your reasons?

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