A MASSIVE ANGEL:
This is probably a peak cliche quarantine situation, but hear me out- I want to get back with my ex.
We casually dated for about 3 months, before he ended things. He cited that he was starting to feel more deeply about me and wanted to end things before he got too attached, which would make it harder to break up, especially since he was planning on moving in the next few months. While I was pretty sad about it (I had been starting to feel more for him too), I mostly agreed. I felt like it had been missing a spark. I knew some of my friends who talked about how passionately they felt about their long term partners- I like this guy a lot, but I didn’t feel that strongly about him. It ended up being a really nice breakup- we just talked about how much we were going to miss each other and how much we liked each other. It felt like we were ending a long term relationship (it was like a 3 hour breakup) instead of a casual thing. Neither of us had really dated anyone for that long before, and it had been great.
I fully intended on not really talking to him afterwards. More fish in the sea, eh? I went out with a couple of other guys in the mean time, none of who I felt that excited about. I just kept missing him- it took me for more of a loop than expected.
About a month later (a week or two before quarantine started) he reached out, and we ended up chatting on the phone for a long time, something we never did while going out. It’s weird- I started liking him way more than before. It’s like all the formality of when we were first going out went way- it’s just much easier to talk to him. And I like talking to him, a lot.
Since then, we’ve been texting a lot, talking on the phone and over FaceTime for hours. Way more than we did when we were actually going out. I’m sure part of it is quarantine- we can’t see each other physically and meeting up isn’t reasonable (he skipped town to escape his tiny apartment, plus social distancing). Now, the feelings that I had before hand are coming back in full force. We haven’t talked about what happens after this, or what we’re doing, other than that it’s really great to be talking again.
I keep seeing all these tweets and memes- don’t text your ex! Don’t reach out to your ex! And some part of me gets that- we ended things for a reason, right? Why am I getting pulled back in? I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t really want to be with me. I also don’t really want to jump into a long term relationship if both of us are planning on moving soon. But I also feel like we ended things early. It’s been really nice to talk to him with everything that’s been going on. My gut is to ride it out and see where it goes, but I also don’t want to be dumb with my heart.
This image has nothing to do with anything it was just very soothing imo.
There are far, far worse fates than being dumb with your heart. Let’s begin there. I think the world right now is being pretty explicit about the fact that there’s not much else on this rock other than loving people and helping people. It’s kind of The Whole Point.
That doesn’t, of course, mean that you need to be foolish or to lacerate yourself by getting back together or staying with with dipshit, bad-for-you people. Simply by asking yourself the question, “Is this a bad idea to get back together with my ex?” you’ve gone about 40% of the way to guaranteeing that if you do get back together it won’t be CATASTROPHIC. It’s a good question! Exes are almost universally bad to get back together with. Especially without lots of growth and therapy for both parties.
The problem with getting back together with an ex is the high chance of recurrence of previous issues. When you’re dating someone new you have no idea in what ways they will suck shit. You have no clue what habits of theirs will make you seriously contemplate doing a wee bit of murder. The entire act of dating is uncovering someone’s flaws and hoping they aren’t dealbreakers (plus love and support and intimacy and other shit) but getting back together with an ex means that you know the flaws AND you know that they’re dealbreakers. Unless something major has changed.
Unless they aren’t really an ex. Which is actually the category that I think you and this guy fall into. Not to be Dismissive Dorothy here but three months is not long-term dating or a “serious” relationship, no matter how long the breakup conversation lasted. Three months is about the time it takes for an open jar of mayo to go bad. A relationship is more than a jar of mayo, ok? That does not mean that you two did not have real feelings or love for one another!!!
I just mean that I don’t think that you guys even really a full shot at getting to know one another the first time. I mean you say that he broke up with you because he was starting to like you … WHAT ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH DOES THAT MEAN? Why was he dating you??? Was he expecting to not like you???? I don’t get it. I mean, I get the “I’m moving” thing. And maybe that’s the crux of this, but the whole ending between both of you seems very very odd. You both seem to have been spooked by liking one another.
In fact, you say a few seemingly contradictory things. You talk about how the relationship was starting to get more serious which implies that it was pretty casual at the beginning, but then that when you talk to him now there is less formality. (I get that sit-down-at-a-restaurant dates can feel incredibly artificial and stiff, so maybe talking over the phone helped that??) You also say that you were starting to feel deeply for him but there was no spark. But feeling deeply for someone is the spark.
A note on spark (SparkNotes, if you will 😉): spark is fake. Spark is a thing that douchey guys/TV & movie writers made up so they could be withholding 90% of the time and have a couple cute-but-also-kind-of-rude moments 10% of the time and people would fall for it and they wouldn’t have to put in effort. Insecurity is the kindling of most romantic “sparks.” The “do they like me back??” agony is all spark. Someone being a clear communicator will almost never feel like sparks because we’ve been told the unknown = excitement and that excitement = spark.
Basically, I think you’re confused about what you did feel for him and what you now do feel for him but I will tell you: you like him!!! I don’t know that you love him. I don’t know that he loves you. YET. Dear god, this is new!!!!!!! Let it be new! Let yourself not have the answers. But I do think you like him and he likes you and three months wasn’t enough time to figure that out and there was an artificial end date looming with The Big Move, and neither of you knew what to do so you pulled the plug.
You say that you don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you, but I’m not convinced that he doesn’t want to be with you at all. He seems like he likes you a lot— people do not FaceTime people for hours if they don’t like them!!!!!!!— but doesn’t know what to do about it just like you don’t know what to do about it. The last tactic he tried (breaking things off before he liked you too much) did not work. So now he’s trying something else (talking to you a bunch but ignoring what comes next).
It’s everyone’s first time on earth, we’re bound to screw a few things up. Maybe one of your guys’ screwups was calling this one too early. Maybe not! Maybe you guys try again and it doesn’t work or long distance makes it not work. Maybe it hurts more further down the line. That’s the risk of dating / loving / caring about people! The more you love them the worse the ending is!
If I were you—and take this with an assload of salt because I am not you— I would just keep talking for now. No one knows what’s happening with lockdowns and stay in place orders. None of us has a good idea of when this will be “over.” Neither of you needs to have an answer about what this is because, frankly, nothing is going to happen for at least the rest of this month.
Be open, be honest. If you feel like talking about the relationship, talk about it. But you do not need to rush and get an answer from him or feel guilty about just talking to an ex who is bringing you comfort right now. Maybe you guys are something after lockdown. Maybe you aren’t but talking to him was nice and helpful and made this all less lonely.
Try your best to slow down and enjoy this one tiny, nice thing amidst the shitstorm. See where it goes, but don’t forget to ask for what you want, ok?!
Sophia Benoit writes this very newsletter; she also writes about sex & relationships for GQ, tweets about everything else at @1followernodad, and has had bylines in The Guardian, Reductress, Refinery29, Allure, and The Cut. You can reach her or yell at her at firstname.lastname@example.org.