I believe we need to change the way we think about breakups. The current view perpetuates bad advice that does more harm than good for those struggling with a breakup.
A breakup isn’t always a relationship death-sentence, but people treat it like one. It seems the mainstream advice is to move on from a breakup and not turn back. People often lecture their newly dumped friends/family members how getting back with their ex is never a good idea and that they “can do so much better”.
Although the advice is well-intentioned and promotes self-empowerment, it invalidates the feelings of those who want to get back with their ex. It makes them feel guilty or even embarrassed about how they feel, and will probably make their pursuit a solo mission (you can see here that the search term for getting an ex back has significantly higher search interest than similar search terms about preventing a breakup). On top of that, they’re ingrained with the belief that getting back with an ex is a hopeless.
This is what the mainstream view on breakups creates: A population of people trying to get their ex back, but highly anxious and confused throughout the process. They may not have their usual support system to turn to and are afraid of making their already “hopeless” pursuit even more hopeless.
The mainstream view is very wrong. And the problem it has created can be avoided if more people knew it.
First off, studies show you have about a 40% chance of getting your ex back. That’s what number you get when you average the results of the two research studies below. (I’m rounding down to 40% because these studies don’t capture breakup scenario or only survey are particular demographic. This still provide a good approximation.)
- A survey of the American general population (ages 18+) including an oversample of 200 people who are divorced
- 41% of people who were polled said they have gotten back together
- Relationship Churning in Emerging Adulthood: On/Off Relationships and Sex with an Ex
- Over 50% of people surveyed (college students only) said the got back in a relationship with their ex, and about half of them also had sex their ex.
On-again/off-again dating is also more common than people think, 37% of adults do it and 23% of married couples reported breaking up and getting back together at least once. However, on-again/off-again dating leads to an increased chance of the same cycling behavior during cohabitation. But the takeaway is that breakups and makeups happen often and one breakup isn’t cause for alarm.
People need to rethink what a breakup means. Right now, I suspect most people think that when one partner decides to break up the relationship, they mean it with 100% conviction and there is no chance of reconciliation.
Based on the studies above and probably from your own experiences, it should be pretty clear by now that, in most cases, breakups don’t mean a relationship can never be revived. Instead of thinking of breakups as relationship-killers, use a more accurate analogy instead: breakups are a symptom of relationship problems that never get resolved.
There are many reasons why a partner may request a breakup for the wrong reasons:
- They struggle communicating and addressing these relationship problems with their partner or
- They think the problems cannot be fixed with a discussion
- They may not even be aware of the relationship’s problems are, they just *feel* like it’s not working out.
- They need some space/time apart and they’re not sure or afraid to bring up a discussion about it.
- And many more reasons…
With this new perspective on breakups, people should be panicking less and empathizing more. They should try figuring out what went wrong and what they can do to prevent things from going wrong again. Their relationship may not be dead, but it’s in critical condition, so there’s still work to do, but it’s not hopeless.
If you want to know how to get your ex back – I recommend this guide as a good starting point.