Why Do I Keep Going Back To My Ex?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Ok i’m kind of have a feeling of being out of control. My ex and I broke up a month ago b/c he was a cheater and I found out many instances where he wasn’t faithful to me in our relationship-we were together for a year off and on (he flew out to visit ex g/f in cali and told me he was going mtn biking, emailed/chatted with Transexuals online, emailed girls on myspace, craigslist, dating websites etc). I’m 26 he is 27. I kept going back to him, i don’t know why?! We broke up the day after christmas- i broke up with him he was being standoffish with me again and I couldn’t take it anymore. After a month of being friends (janurary til now). He was helping me train for a triatholon we ran 6 miles every weekend the month we were broken up. This past friday he wanted to take me out to dinner(i thought new beggings) and we had a great time and unfortunatly we ended up sleeping together after dinner. Oops! Next day didn’t hear from him while the whole previous week b4 this dinner he was texting me saying- i miss you, i love you, i can’t wait to see u etc. So I got pissed the next day after our dinner date and went off on him BIG TIME telling him to f*** off, lose my #, saying he’s a jerk etc. He stopped talking to me. I apologized next day. He texted me a few times afterward like we were friends again. Thursday he texted me “good night sam” i didn’t respond bc I was in bed. Than yesterday(friday) I texted him later that day saying “how is your day” and heard nothing. Texted him again “?”. and Nothing. He would usually ALWAYS text me back. So than i texted him “I guess ur not talking to me anymore. That’s OK. we haven’t been getting along lately and need the space anyway. byes. Have a good wkend, be safe.” i said “be safe” cause it’s snowing. Do you think what i said was OK? and the right thing? I did’nt want to flip out on him again. I have done it a few times now since we broke up and i say really hurtful things to him. I guess i haven’t gotten over his cheating ways and i feel like a crazy person sometimes. Why do i want him in my life when he treats me so badly behind my back? I need some insight to why i get upset when i dont hear from him. and why i feel like i need him in my life? I don’t have a bad childhood or a bad relationship with my parents- i feel very normal. but maybe its a syndrome of having something I can’t? help?

A. There could be many reasons why you feel like you must have your ex in your life. Some possibilities include loneliness, feeling that you cannot attract another man, convenience, or low self-esteem. These are some possibilities and there may be many others.

Another possibility is that no one modeled for you what a good relationship is like. You had a good childhood and you have a healthy relationship with your parents. Even so, their relationship may not have been healthy and that could have been where you learned some of your problematic behaviors. Since you did not describe their relationship it is difficult for me to determine whether it is the source of your problems. If you were to analyze your life, I wonder if there are any family members who have a similar relationship to the one you have with your ex? If so, that may be the source.

Some individuals will tolerate an unfaithful partner if they are single, lonely or feel that there are no prospective relationships. Why? Because they don’t like to be alone. For some people, being in an unhealthy relationship is better than not being in a relationship at all. Those same people, if they met someone new and felt that relationship had promise, would then and only then break off the old relationship. If the new relationship failed then they might attempt to reconnect with their ex, even if it meant being treated badly again. As I mentioned above, the common theme is that any relationship, even if it’s a bad one, is better than no relationship. The motivating force behind tolerating a less than healthy relationship is often a fear of being alone. It is a characteristic of dependent personality disorder.

The relationship you have described does not seem healthy. I would advise you to consider therapy. Therapy could help you understand why you are accepting of a relationship that does not benefit you and may in fact be harmful. You may be able to analyze and determine the source of your behavior. You could also learn new and better ways to cultivate a healthy relationship. Therapy is the ideal place to deal with relationship problems. Many people have found the website Psychology Today to be helpful for searching for therapists in their community. I wish you well. Thank you for your question.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Mar 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Why Do I Keep Going Back To My Ex?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/03/12/why-do-i-keep-going-back-to-my-ex/