How To Break The Cycle Of Getting Back Together

Most of the time, when a relationship ends (even if the relationship ended badly), we still hold out a little hope that one day, we can give things a second shot. We daydream about the good times, gloss over the bad — and when the opportunity arises to give the relationship another try, we’re often eager to make a go of it, even though we know deep down that it’s a bad idea. And then, before we know it, our worst worries are realized — nothing has changed, the relationship is plagued by the same problems it always had, and we’re stuck in the vicious cycle of an on-again, off-again relationship.

The problems with on-again, off-again dating go beyond the drama they add to your life: these kind of relationships take a huge emotional toll on us. Unstable relationships are psychologically damaging for both partners. And a study by Kansas State University found that people in yo-yo relationships with partners that they repeatedly broke up and got back together with have lower satisfaction and bad communication; both partners were also more likely suffer from low self-esteem, higher uncertainty about their futures, and were more prone to behavior that will negatively affect themselves and the relationship.

Basically, nothing good can come of getting back together. You and your ex are not the exception to the rule. You’re not Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel; you are, at best, Miley and Liam Hemsworth. You have to end the cycle.

It may be hard to figure out how to put a stop this yo-yo drama, but it can be done. Here are 11 ways to finally break the cycle and stay broken up.

1. Unfriend Them On Facebook

Although unfriending your ex should have been your first step right after you broke up, I can understand the urge to hang on to a piece of your shared past. But the problem with staying “friends” is that you leave yourself open to engage with your ex. Things can quickly escalate from your ex liking a photo, to posting a comment, engaging you in a bit of Facebook banter; then, before you know it, you’re messaging each other, and agreeing to get a drink. Facebook friendship is the gateway drug to getting back together. Get it out of your life.

  1. Unfollow Them On Twitter

Much like Facebook friendship, following each other on Twitter opens up the door to, say, bonding over a cute puppy photo you posted, or a link to a song you really love. Then, before you know it, you’re tweeting at each other about, “remember that time…” while your Twitter friends watch in horror. Unfollow.

3. Avoid Romanticizing The Past

It’s sooo easy to cling to an idealized version of the past where everything is wonderful and dreamy, and the misery that caused your break up isn’t even part of the picture. But you can’t do that. You need to remember the messy stuff that followed, the words that were said, and the behavior that forced the relationship to end, or you’ll never break free from it. Keep a list of the reasons you actually broke up, to keep you tethered to reality.

  1. Block Their Phone Number

It may seem like a great idea to keep their number, because, well, you’re hoping they’ll call and say, “I’m sorry. Let’s work this out.” But you can’t center your life around waiting for that call. Holding on to their number doesn’t just allow the cycle of engagement to continue — it may also prevent you from moving on, and maybe even meeting someone new.

If you just delete their number, you may start picking up any unknown caller that comes in, in hopes that it is them — so make sure to block.

  1. Stop Going To Places Where You Know They’ll Be
    I once dated a guy who, after taking me to his favorite bar, made me promise that if we ended things, I’d respect that the bar was his “safe zone” and never go there. It sounded both silly and fair, but I didn’t realize just how important an agreement like that would be until I went to my favorite bar and ran into my ex.

While you can’t prevent an ex from showing up on your turf, if you avoid their favorite spots, you can at least lessen the chances that you’ll bump into each other and get to talking.

  1. Ignore All Their Emails

Definitely easier said than done (and even if you do set their email to spam, at least one will always sneak through at some point). Try to add an email filter to your Gmail account to sort out their emails — because all it takes is one “how’re you doing” email, and you’re sucked back in to it all.

7. Don’t Talk About Them With Mutual Friends

It’s really unfair to put your friends in the middle of your break up, but sometimes, it feels like you just can’t help but ask what your ex is up to or how they’re doing. If this mutual friend says they’re dying inside without you, your first instinct might be to reach out and console them, and set the cycle into motion again. So don’t ask. And instruct your friends to not tell you, even if you ask. They’re your friends, they’ll understand.

  1. … Or Take Time Off From Friends You Have In Common

If you’re finding not talking about your ex while around your mutual friends impossible, you may want to take a temporary sabbatical from hanging out with them. This isn’t a permanent thing, and if you explain to your friends that you just don’t want to open to any possible doors to communication, they’ll understand. Your friends might feel relieved, honestly — taking time apart will keep them from feeling pressure to choose sides.