Can A Broken Heart Help You Get Your Ex Back?


In the recent book “Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?: And Other Reflections on Being Human”, research psychologist Jesse Bering examines the neurochemistry of heartbreak.

He offers a scientific anatomy of heartbreak, citing the work of biological anthropologist Helen Fisher:

There are two main stages associated with a dead and dying romantic relationship, which is so often tied to one partner’s infidelities. During the ‘protest’ stage that occurs in the immediate aftermath of rejection, ‘abandoned lovers are generally dedicated to winning their sweetheart back. They obsessively dissect the relationship, trying to establish what went wrong; and they doggedly strategize about how to rekindle the romance. Disappointed lovers often make dramatic, humiliating, or even dangerous entrances into a beloved’s home or place of work, then storm out, only to return and plead anew. They visit mutual haunts and shared friends. They phone, e-mail, and write letters, pleading, accusing, and/or trying to seduce their abandoner.’

This is also known as the “Get Your Ex Back Delusion”.

I have clients who spend months going through what Fisher describes below, following the protest of lost love:

This impassioned protest stage – if it proves unsuccessful in reestablishing the romantic relationship – slowly disintegrates into the second stage of heartbreak, what Fisher refers to as ‘resignation/despair,’ in which the rejected party gives up all hope of ever getting back together. ‘Drugged by sorrow,’ writes Fisher, ‘most cry, lie in bed, stare into space, drink too much, or hole up and watch TV.’ At the level of the brain, overtaxed dopamine-making cells begin sputtering out, causing lethargy and depression.

I’m not saying that couples that break up NEVER get back together and live happily ever after. I am saying that MOST couples who break up do so for a reason.

I’ve been there, but I recall having a different take on how to get better. When my girlfriend broke up with me in 2004, I went home with tears still wet on my face, and activated my JDate profile. Was I emotionally ready to date? No. Was I going to let my ex ruin my next six months by crawling into a hole? HELL NO!

But the most surprising part of Fisher’s theory – and the least supported part — is that there is an evolutionary adaptive function to being sad: it makes your ex feel sad, too.

When you watch someone you care about (but no longer feel any real long-term or sexual desire to be with) suffer in such ways, it can be difficult to fully extricate yourself from a withered romance. If I had to guess – in the absence of any studies that I’m aware of to support this claim – I’d say that a considerable amount of genes have replicated in our species solely because, with our damnable social cognitive abilities, we just don’t have the heart to break other people’s hearts.

Yeah, that’s true. And it’s why sad, broken couples get back together multiple times, even though they’re ill-fated. I’m not saying that couples that break up NEVER get back together and live happily ever after. I am saying that MOST couples who break up do so for a reason. And that sadness/guilt/inertia/fear/sunk costs usually bring people back, only to find the the same problems still exist in the relationship.   To read more from this book, click  here.  And please, share your thoughts below about the wisdom of getting back together with an ex.

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  1. 1

    Interesting article! I love to read anything written by Helen Fisher She has a couple of TED talks you can find on the net that are very fascinating to listen to re Love and the brain.

  2. 2

    That’s an interesting article.

    For me, especially if the guys were the ones ending things with me, I did several things.   One: never let them see me cry.   NEVER.   I wasn’t going to give them that satisfaction.   I sucked it up, sucked it in, and kept a level, calm head and would not rise to any bait.   Two: if there was contact post-breakup, they never heard if I was hurting.   Everything was fine, work was challenging, my friends are wonderful and I’m spending time with them.   It was all about pride.   My Mom once told me that if a guy dumped me, to leave them with a smile, never give them the satisfaction of seeing you cry.   I never begged or pleaded.   Once it was over, it was over.   I’d immediately delete their contact info, unfriend or block them on Facebook, get rid of pictures or sentimental items.

    As far as the getting back with your ex is concerned, maybe I’m odd, but the way I see it, ESPECIALLY if the guy rejects me, is that I will not go back to an ex.   Ever.   I got hurt once, who’s to say that they won’t do that to me again?   As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you.   Fool me twice, shame on me.”   I’d prefer to get over the ex, move on, and find someone else who will not hurt me.   I don’t want to always be wondering if this guy will leave again.   No thanks.

    But that’s just my take on things.   I believe in grieving out of the sight of an ex, getting out with my friends and on my own, and then pulling up my big girl panties and getting on with my life. Letting them know that they hurt me, usually will do nothing but inflate that ego, and I ain’t about to go there! 🙂

    1. 2.1

      Heather thank you so much for that post.   Wish I had handled it the same.   I feel so hurt and embarrassed because I tried to talk it over with him. I am still having a hard time getting over him thinking about him with someone else.

      1. 2.1.1

        Me too, Kim. My bf of just over a year  just dumped me a week ago,  saying he wants his freedom, wants to be on his own  & I just cant cope in a healthy way. Ive lost 12 lbs in a week – Im normally @ 120 lbs, so 12 lbs is quite alot of weight to lose! Looking back,  I feel like he lead me on almost the entire year we were together. Hed say  he loved me  & turn around & say he wanted to be on his own. I still dont understand. Probably never will. Im so heartbroken because I knew or thought I knew we would have a lifetime together. No other will ever have my heart. My heart shattered in a million pieces to the point of no recovery.

        1. Gary

          “No other will ever have my heart”.     REALLY? This is the problem and this may be a large reason why he left you. Your entire identity is with him. You became needy, a weight or burden  instead of an asset or helper. It’s true. Modify your mindset not to be co-dependent on him for your happiness  but be independently happy with who you are with real goals and things to do that build you up. Besides, with that thinking what new  guy in his right mind would dedicated himself to you when he found out there was no room in your heart for him….

      2. 2.1.2
        Ruth Johnston

        Heather definitely is a strong person that I strive to be like. Unfortunately I have cried sobbed and acted like a lunatic to the drug addict who dumped me. Yes. Drug addict. I’m not sure what is wrong with me that I cannot get over this breakup. It’s been 2 months. I just has sec with him 8 days sgo. He still loves me but he says he cannot forgive my betrayal for telling his family he was using drugs. This lead to him not seeing his son now since January.   It’s been 3 months. He blames me for not seeing his child. He told me we would still be together if it weren’t betrayal.   I give up. I’m a wreck.   And Yes I blame myself as always. He’s already dating someone.   I am beyond devastated.

    2. 2.2

      You hit it right on the nose.   Strength unleased.   Love what you said.

    3. 2.3

      Thank you Heather.

      I recently went through a similar situation.   The guy and I talked on the phone, texted and video chatted for three months until my divorce was final, then things changed.

      He couldn’t decide what he wanted all of a sudden and that date we were to have never occurred.   I did have to pick something up from him when I finally forced him to make that decision to say it won’t work with us, mostly because I just got tired of walking on the preverbal “eggshells” when I said anything to him.

      That day I retrieved my item, I  told him thank you and wished him best, (he will need it), and held my head high with a smile on my face as I turned and walked away.   He actually stood there waiting for me to hug him good bye.   That didn’t happen.

      I had already looked into a dating site two days prior to this, and all I can say now, is I am so much better for stepping up and  forcing him to actually make that decision.   He even asked me if I wanted to keep in touch, I asked him why would he want to keep in touch with someone he wasn’t interested in?   No thank you.   I intend to move on and be very happy!


    4. 2.4

      omg this was awesome!!!!! You’re so strong.

    5. 2.5

      Dear Heather,


      I used to be like you. And that worked. I was strong and I slapped them on the nose when they came crawling back. I made my (bitter) mom proud.

      And then my partner for 5 years broke up with me. My best friend. And the worst thing was, he did it in the nicest possible way. There was no one else. He just didn’t love me anymore.

      So we spent the weekend together packing my things. He would hold me when it got too much and bring me breakfast when I refused to eat.   And the whole time he was hurting too and we were wiping each others tears.

      Crying isn’t shameful. It means you let someone in and that the time was well spent. And sure I’d love to not pick up when he calls, but stopping all contact after that person has been a great part of your life? I didn’t remember how to make that curry he always made me when I was sad…

      Dear Heather. I hope you never have to go through this. But if no one sees you cry, then no one sees who you really are.

      All the best 🙂


  3. 3

    I can only speak from personal experience but three times I had my heart broken where I was hurt, the guy came back, I gave him a second chance and I was left again a few months later feeling even worse so I think taking exes back is a bad move because I am still going to be me and if someone could leave me once, they could again. I admire Evan’s approach of getting right back out there although after my most recent break up six weeks ago I’ve found it hard. Still, in the past I’ve had months of sadness and it doesn’t change anything so best to get out there. I know he already has.    

    1. 3.1

      Fiona I understand where your coming from completely. My ex put me through hell the last two years. The first 22 were great but some how she got lost and started talking to men online. She blamed me for everything. I asked her why after 24 years together owning a nice home sharing dogs together and basically having a great life together this happened? Her response was that she had let me take away her independence. I was never controlling in any way! Her last text to me was I’m sorry I destroyed your life. My response was you don’t have the power to do that. I now have a wonderful woman in my life but the thing that scares me is I’d take her back if she asked me to. My new girlfriend is great but she doesn’t have that outgoing personality that my ex had

  4. 4

    I find it interesting that you went home an activated your profile immediately after a break up instead of taking any time to grieve. It may be a generalization, but I’ve always thought men had an easier time with breakups because they were ready to find a replacement right away. And out there hitting up possibilities ASAP.

    Contrast to women, (again generalizing) who don’t  want to meet another guy for some time after a breakup.

    I once got involved with a man 2 mos. after a partnership ended. It was a distraction somewhat, but being with that guy just made me miss my ex more. Adding to, rather than allievating depression.

    1. 4.1

      I agree Selena. I tried reactivating a profile a couple of times…even went on dates…but ended up removing my profiles because the guys always wanted more than what I was willing to give. And I just missed my ex when I was with other men.

      Now I just wait until I am ready to open my heart to someone else. I think it is disingenuous for me to go out on dates with guys who are looking for a relationship when I can’t give them that.

  5. 5

    I just got broken up with 2 months ago by a guy I had known through friends for many years.   He had a crush all that time, asked me out and we dated happily for 4 months.   Then he ended stating he didn’t see it going anywhere.   I feel guilty because I defriended him on Facebook.   It was a mature break up and now I feel petty for defriending what was an old friend.   I have   parking sticker to return to him and I was going to explain why I defriended him.   I’m not mad I was just hurt when he posted photos of the party I planned for him and do not want to continue to see things like that.   He broke up with me before his 40th.The letter is short and sweet and wishes him well.    

  6. 6

    @ Fiona,

    That’s what happened to me, many years ago.   I dated two ex-boyfriends, and what did I learn?   I learned…..wait for it……they hadn’t changed.   They didn’t grow up and change like they told me and swore to me that they had.  

    So now, if an ex ever comes back into my life, which almost never happens, I just say, no.   It was a breakup because we were BROKEN.   I need to find someone I can create a whole, healthy, new relationship with.  

    My guy has a cousin who’s dating a man who rejected her once, and I really am fearful that he’ll reject her again.   I’ve kept my peace since it’s none of my business and thus far, he’s treating her well, but I just can’t help thinking, he’s done it once, he may do it again.   Why would anybody want to put themselves in that position?

  7. 7

    Kate, defriending him on FB means sparing yourself seeing pic’s and updates on his page you don’t need to see right now while you’re getting over him. You don’t have to feel guilty for protecting yourself from that.

  8. 8

    @Kate I don’t think you were in the wrong for deleting him, ending all contact is probably the best way to deal with being rejected.

    As for the original article, the reminds me of my brother’s ex-girlfriend so much. They’ve broken up about 5 times in the past 2 1/2 years, most recently in May. She does everything to stay part of our lives, she’s even become really close with our cousin’s (my brother’s best friend) wife and her two sisters. Which means, if there is a party she is there. He is considering getting back together with her because she is wearing him down and it makes him feel like a monster. I told him to stop taking her calls and responding to her texts.

  9. 9

    Heather, I also now have that attitude. When someone walks out of the door, there is no way back.  

    Kate, I have also been there. You are doing nothing wrong and you can’t move on if you are still Facebook friends. That way lies madness! Maybe one day in the future when you have both moved on.

  10. 10

    @ Julia

    I’m with you.   I had one guy try to get back together with me after I dumped him for lying to me about an undisclosed criminal record, until 2 months after we started dating.   I made it clear that I wanted no contact.   I erased his number.   He continued to contact me about 3-4 more times.   Each time I just said, “C, I believe I made myself clear that this is over, I am moving on and am now seeing other people.   I would appreciate it if you would respect my space.”   It actually nauseated me to hear him begging me to come back.  

    That kind of situation really impressed upon me further that it is way beneath me to beg, cry, and plead when a relationship is over.   Whenever I’d get tempted to do so if a relationship ended, I’d think, Heather, remember that old country song that says, “I’ve got pride, I’m taking it for a ride….”   I don’t want to look back and cringe, remembering that I was grovelling for a man’s love, and lowering myself like that.

    If a man doesn’t want me, then fine.   There’s the door.  It’s not a revolving door though so once he goes through it, he’s not allowed to come back.   He’s allowed to come back and apologize if he behaved badly, but then back out that door he goes, because I don’t want a man who’s rejected me.

  11. 11

    Heather, I’m impressed with your backbone! I wish I could be more like that. In may, when it became clear a guy I had been going out with once a week for two months was pulling the slow fade, I called him up crying and threw a bit of a tantrum over the rejection. It’s horrifying and humiliating to even think about today, but I just flipped because I had been the perfect, mirroring, no pressure girl the whole time and keeping in all my frustrations culminated in an explosion. It has since become a real turning point. I now pay significantly more attention to how a man is treating me, am holding off longer on sex to protect myself emotionally, and am willing to walk if the guy doesn’t make the appropriate effort. Every time Im tempted to do otherwise, I just remember that pleading, crying girl and think, dear God, that is never going to be me again.  

  12. 12

    Ha!   Marketing-savvy book title.   Interesting article.
    The two stages of heartbreak outlined by the author seem to me to be a concise repackaging of the “Five Stages of Loss and Grief” outlined in most Psychology 101 courses.   Makes sense…heartbreak is certainly an experience of loss and grief.
    Fisher’s theory about the evolutionary adaptive function to being sad, though, fails to convince me. Seems counterintuitive.
    As to whether getting back together with an ex is a good idea: no, no. no!   If it ended once, it will end again.   That is my experience.

  13. 13

    @ Heather

    I can’t agree with  you more about how to handle yourself after you have been rejected by a guy.

    It may be  hurting very badly inside but showing  that you have high self esteem and  are a classy lady  is the only way to handle the situation.  
    The last time this happened to me –  he  pressed his reset button and  acted as if nothing had happened about  2 months  after he dumped me –  he started contacting me again. The only thing I did differently to you was that I  didn’t respond to any of his phone calls, emails and texts and he eventually  went away.  
    It was hard at first but no contact of any kind with the ex for several months  after the breakup  gave me  the time and space to become a lot more objective about the  the reality of the  ‘relationship’ I thought I had, and after  the initial  shock wore off I found that I wasn’t interested in him anymore.

    If he/she has rejected you there must be a reason  that is important to them why they have decided not to keep seeing you anymore.  We have all dumped other people when we don’t want to  keep going out with them and rarely tell them the real reason  why because we don’t want to hurt their feelings any more. Most people  have enough pride to let go and move on. Why would you want to hang on and keep being rejected over and over again? I’ve been there, done that and will never do that again.

  14. 14

    Any guy who dumped me in the past was doing the right thing.   They always were wrong for me!   Always.     When I wanted them back it due to an blow to the ego…not   a loss to a true love.

    I just had a  former guy contact me today to tell he was available again.   He wanted to know if I wanted to do a casual dinner or movie.     This guy dumped me for a woman with an Ivy League degree and two houses.   It was obvious from his comments that he is  still a jerk and I said  that I found him offensive  and self centered.      He said he was surprised that he remembered that I was at one time very interested in him.   I did not respond…..I now know that he is a jerk.

    Women need to learn that a break up is usually  a sign   that both parties are dodging a bullet.   The bad boys return for the ego gratification of hurting you again.   That is why they  are bad boys!

    1. 14.1

      “The bad boys return for the ego gratification of hurting you again. That is why they are bad boys!”

      You are right to not take them back, but it may help to not take them back if you know why they actually left, and are now coming back. It is not the reason above. I seriously doubt after talking with so many men throughout my life, that this is the reason of any man but the very very rare masochist. 99.999% of the time it is going to be as simple as this. He was dating you, and you didn’t light his world on fire. Or he may have been very attracted to you but doesn’t like your personality. You may even be the person most at fault…maybe you were too critical. Maybe he left just for that reason and didn’t even have somebody else lined up to replace you. Or maybe, regardless of who the guilty party is, he found somebody that he felt was a better catch so he went to explore that option.

      ………………..What if a man came back, and you agreed to a quiet dinner someplace you both could talk, your place, his place or a restaurant that wasn’t busy or had private areas where you could talk freely. Then you ask him why he left, and explain that you need to know because he hurt you badly when he left, and so you have no trust in him at this point. So what if he responded by saying, “How did I make you feel before I left?” You might say, “For the most part, everything was great, which is why it would be hard to trust you. Even if things are going great, it would be in the back of my mind that you might leave at any moment again. I don’t even know why you left…you just left.”

      OK, so now what if this was his response, “I should have told you but honestly, I am not sure it would have made any difference for either one of us at the time, and I am not even sure you would have accepted my reasons as true, but here they are. I never talked about you behind your back but you talked about me behind mine. I always tried to see your good points and concentrate on those, but it always felt like you concentrated on my weaknesses and was determined to “cure” me of them. You want to be loved for who you are, but can’t love somebody for who they are. It felt like you were in love with who you thought I could be, not who I am. You were very critical. You were very bossy. You were passive aggressive when you didn’t get your way. It was your way or the highway. Oh sure, I might get my way sometimes, but I was sure to have to pay for it in some way later, and you for sure would make sure I remembered that I got my way and how much you had to sacrifice to sit and watch the History International Channel with me instead of 1 of your 10 favorite sitcoms or night time soaps. I was sure to be reminded how much I owed you. It would show plain as day on your face that you hated to be criticized. If I told you that a dress you had on did not flatter you at all, it was clear you didn’t like being told that, and yet you thought nothing of being critical of me. You didn’t like that I was starting to get a gut, but would have burst into tears if I pointed out one of your physical weaknesses. We men learn not to do that because we get beat up and made out to be the bad guy if we point out that you are getting fat, have a big butt, etc… I like long hair and you know this but cut your hair off anyway. But if I grow a beard, you were sure to make your displeasure known. These are some of the reasons…the ones I remember right now…that caused me to leave you. In short, it didn’t feel good to be with you.”

      You might respond with, “If that is the reason, why are we hear now? Why would you even call me up?”
      He might respond with, “Fair question. To be honest, I guess I hoped you might have changed. I guess I wanted to see if you had changed, or could be different this time.”

      I can guarantee you that many men could have written that, or something similar. Women love to blame men for all the ills of the world, especially their little corner of the world. But the truth is, for every thing a man does wrong, a woman is doing something wrong too. Too often women want to lay blame on the man in their lives for why she’s not happy or fulfilled, and it’s not right, it’s not true and it’s not fair….and…it runs good men out of your lives. As the old saying goes, you can only kick a good dog so many times before it refuses to take it anymore and leaves.

      1. 14.1.1

        Very, very well said. This is something that I have learned the hard way and am working very hard to correct.

      2. 14.1.2

        Oh my god.   This comment felt like a direct and complete hit, square in the jaw, perfectly aimed, perfectly executed, perfectly landed.   My ex never confronted me about anything that must have been bothering him, not at the time it was happening, nor now, months after him bailing unexpectedly.   But, if he had, I imagine this could be exactly what he would have needed to say to me.   And, it all would have been true, indisputable, and would have stopped me in my tracks and made me listen, respect him, and made me want to correct this.   

        But, why, why, why couldn’t he have just said this at the time it was happening?   Instead of keeping silent, letting believe I was the light of the centre of his universe, but inwardly letting his feelings for me decay, and without warning, leaving our 14 year relationship?   i wish this hypothetical meet up and conversation would happen, but he’s   resolved to be gone and seemingly stay gone, in love with another, calling her his soulmate.

        Yes, I’m completely shattered and devastated.   Yes, he lied, cheated and left, and now doesn’t want me.   So, I know I shouldn’t ever want him back, either, but if he ever knocked on my door in the future, offering this kind of open and unabashed communication, I don’t think  I could close the door on him.

        Thank you for your comment,   Rusty.

        1. Karl R

          Amy said:
          “he’s   resolved to be gone and seemingly stay gone, in love with another, calling her his soulmate.”  

          Generally when someone gives this kind of description of their relationship (especially early on in their relationship), it means that they’re infatuated with their new partner. They place a great deal of significance on these feelings of infatuation, not realizing that they’re temporary. Typically infatuation wears off in 1 to 3 years. The “magical” feelings are caused by changes in our blood chemistry, and they’re not meant to last.

          That’s probably not the whole picture, but it’s quite possible that part of his decision to leave was based on flawed expectations. Many people expect to feel intoxicating infatuation for the rest of their lives, then they think something is wrong when it fades from their marriage.

          Amy asked:
          “Instead of keeping silent, letting believe I was the light of the centre of his universe, but inwardly letting his feelings for me decay, and without warning, leaving our 14 year relationship?”  

          Are you sure he kept silent?

          When I ended my second relationship, it probably seemed sudden to that girlfriend. I’m sure she has her own beliefs about what went wrong in the relationship, and they probably don’t match reality.

          Every time I tried to bring up something that bothered me, she would try to shut down the conversation … usually within the first two sentences. She repeatedly did an excellent job of communicating to me that she didn’t want to hear about anything that was bothering me with the relationship.

          After a while, I realized there was no point in me trying to tell her about things that were bothering me.  She wasn’t going to listen.

          Do you have a family member or friend that tends to be brutally honest? If so, ask them if you have a tendency to do this. Then listen to their answer, without interrupting.

          Your ordinary friends won’t be able to tell you this. Female friends tend to say what will make their friends feel better, regardless of the truth. A male friend who is interested in dating you will also have a reason to try to avoid offending you. Family members are usually better for this kind of job. They’re familiar with your flaws, and they aren’t as worried about hurting your feelings.

          I can’t tell you if this was a problem in your relationship. That’s why I think you should ask the people who are likely to know.  

      3. 14.1.3

        “Women love to blame men for all the ills of the world, especially their little corner of the world. But the truth is, for every thing a man does wrong, a woman is doing something wrong too.”

        I was in a relationship with a man that told me he was “more than happy” with the relationship. He bought me gifts, sent me sweet messages, the whole nine yards.  

        Then, he suddenly went cold. There was no gradual change of heart, no slow, painful withdrawal– it was like a night-and-day difference. He hated his job and wanted to relocate, but he didn’t want me to come with him– even though he told me I had done nothing wrong and that he was happy with the relationship. He kissed and hugged me tightly, and told me he knew he was hurting me.

        Of course, things went sour quickly and I was the one that ended the relationship. Strange that the one who was rejected ultimately had to end the relationship. He never lost interest in me, but he was also never willing to make any meaningful commitments.

        I know it’s hard to believe, but I never criticized or emasculated him. I did care a lot and I was willing to discuss problems and make changes to better the relationship. I struggled to overcome personal issues that I realized were negatively affecting him. And guess what? Just days before he pushed me away, he was the happiest I had ever seen him. His friends and family loved me and thought I was good for him. But in the end, he wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices or compromises necessary to sustain the relationship.

        I know I made some mistakes in that relationship, but kicking a good dog was not one of them.  

      4. 14.1.4
        Duong Nguyen

        Dear Rusty! It was great reply for this article. I read your post and I feel like you knew all the answers and what man and lady say when they meet.

      5. 14.1.5

        Rusty very well said! My ex put me through hell for the last two years we were together. I finally got fed up with her bullshit! Your right it’s not only men that pull this crap but women as well!!!

  15. 15

    A breakup happens for a reason. What is important to know is that some hurt more than others, but they all hurt more if  the rejection  happens to us first.   And when it happens to us first, our pride, and the loss of a friend, hurts most of all.

  16. 16

    Several years ago, someone on this site posted a little gem in the comments section about her approach to dealing with the issue of no-contact after a breakup. It was something like this: “When a man breaks up with me, as far as he is concerned, I HAVE LEFT THE PLANET.” No calls, no texts, no emails, no cute cards, no excuses like having to return something he left at your place. Please.

    In my book, loss is loss & grief is grief. And everyone handles it differently and it always sucks. For me, it’s important that I be brutally honest with myself when I feel myself slipping into that never-never land of “negotiating” with reality, re-analyzing what he might REALLY have meant when he said he’d fallen out of love with me…when I know damn well he meant exactly what he said.

    Most important for me, though, is to resist the WHY of why he left, because it’s so cruelly and unquestionable irrelevant. It only matters that the relationship is over, for better or worse, & the only thing left to do is to take care of myself, be kind to myself, and as much as possible, don’t look back. Of course, it does help if you haven’t humiliated yourself in the midst of the breakup…pleading, crying, wine-infused calls to him late at night, the rants, the bargaining…. So, if you can manage to just walk away, or hang up, with as little fanfare as possible, the better you’re going to feel about yourself later and the closer you are to moving ahead to wherever your life is supposed to be heading next….with him in the rearview mirror. You know what they say — fake it til you make it.  

    P.S. But just in case you don’t manage to handle the breakup scene too smoothly, say maybe you bawled your eyes out & your nose ran, as well as your mascara, or you threw your keys at him & then had to go retrieve them from under a couch or table so you could stomp out of the restaurant, pushing furiously on the exit door only to realize it opens in. Even then, it’s still okay. The important thing is he’s out of the picture. He can think whatever he wants, you can’t control that. And it doesn’t matter anyway, you’re on a new planet.

  17. 17

    I’ve certainly known people who have successfully gotten back together with an ex. However, I have not been one of them, because the person either had the same problems, or their way of relating to me had not changed. But it depends on the situation. If someone ends a relationship mainly due to issues outside of the relationship, it could work out later. In most of the instances I can think of, there was some passage of time involved, also. However, begging and pleading with one’s ex is just about the last thing that anyone should do, and I’ve always been told that it only serves to drive the other person even further away.
    Everyone needs to take some time to grieve. Time and space gives perspective. Hopping back on an online dating site immediately after a breakup has more to do with an “I’ll show her!” mentality, rather an actual readiness to connect with someone new.

  18. 18

    @ Mia:

    What helped me develop the backbone I have now, is LOTS of good therapy by a wonderful therapist, who taught me that yes, I AM strong.   I’m not the weakling idiot my ex husband made sure to tell me I was.   I grew stronger because of his rejection.   Like the Kelly Clarkson song says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller, doesn’t mean I’m lonely, when I’m alone….”

    I once was a weak victim and did the humiliating crap that I see people doing at the end of a relationship.   But now, I hold my head up.   When my momma’s boy ex boyfriend came over for the last time to bring things of mine that were at his place, and I returned his key, he made some kind of apology and I just said, “Well S, you did what you had to do…” in a very detached, calm manner.   He couldn’t see on the inside that I was distraught, hurt, and most of all, FURIOUS at him.   I would not give him that kind of satisfaction.   I looked like a pillar of ice.

    I’m one very stubborn lady and I won’t give a man a second chance to just reject me all over again.   Oh sure, might he have truly grown up or changed?   Perhaps.   But I won’t let my heart take that chance again.   It is too precious and valuable to just give to someone who hurt me once already.   To me, that is pure foolishness.   And I’d rather be sane and single, not worrying that the guy might pull another runner, than having that guy back, and always looking over my shoulder.   No. Way.

  19. 19

    Does anyone understand why it is beneficial to feel heartbroken about breaking up with someone with whom you should not have a relationship?   If so, please explain that.

  20. 20
    Karmic Equation

    My last ex (of 6 years) went the pleading, bribing, convincing, guilting route to try to convince me to give him another chance.
    His drama was a total turnoff such that if had i entertained any thoughts of getting back with him, he killed those thoughts with his behavior.
    I thought more about him when he stopped contacting than I ever did while he was trying to get me back.
    The one time I was dumped I was actually an emotional mess. The weird part was that the guy who dumped me was the one guy I didn’t love, so it didn’t make sense to me when I couldn’t stop crying.
    Truth be told, I thought this guy was kind of a loser and I had made up my mind to break up with him “in June” … but he beat me to the punch in January. So my emotional mess (I cried for a week and didn’t eat and lost 10 lbs) — was all because I couldn’t face the fact that a LOSER dumped ME! My ego didn’t like the thought that that made ME a DOUBLE LOSER!! OMG I laughed so hard at myself when I finally faced this. Lesson learned was not to date losers.

    1. 20.1

      You were both losers but he beat you to the punch,  LoL! I honestly can relate to what you’re saying in regards to how this guy hurt you even though while dating you had  been contemplating on breaking up with him but he beat you to the punch.  This happened to me.  On one level I could look at this  women I was seeing and tell she was a good person but there were some  problems that hampered me from “really falling for her”. When she out of  nowhere (in a span of less than two hours)( where  at first all seemed good )texted me that she was “all screwed up” that she  “could not continue in the relationship because I would end up getting hurt.”
      This  ended up hurting me for weeks. I could not understand how  I came to feel this way about this person since I was contemplating breaking up too. It was a phenomenon. So what I’ve learned is that the  majority of the pain was based on how it ended with NO real answers. The brain is trying to figure out what happened  while the heart is aching like  nothing else  .      

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