How do you know if it's a good idea to date your ex? Is it just NEVER a good idea, as is the commonly accepted wisdom? Or can it work out sometimes? Should I give it another go?
posted by quincunx to Human Relations (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I’m female, single, turning 26 in a couple of months. I just moved back to my hometown a month ago after living across the country for four years. Originally, I was only going to spend Christmas break at home to see my family, but while I was in town for the holidays I unexpectedly got a good job offer in my hometown. Last minute, I ended up moving back home- I drove across the country, got my stuff, drove back, and started my new job.
My ex-boyfriend/fiancé still lives in my hometown. We dated from the ages of 16-21 (17-22 for him) and were living together and briefly engaged at the end, but many family tragedies happened all at once, we both felt we were too young, I think, and we ended up breaking up. I haven’t seen or talked to him in four years- we went cold turkey no contact. He broke up with me, ultimately, but it was definitely not entirely one-sided- arguments and stresses had been going on for a while, etc. Still, it hurt. He was my first love, and still the only person I’ve felt that strongly about. It was a pretty hard breakup.
So while I was in town for the holidays, I reached out to my ex. I hadn't seen or talked to him in four years at that point. I originally wanted to see him over Christmas break, with the idea that I would just be catching up and making peace with him, and saying goodbye, and sort of psychically wishing him well/ending on a good note. I sometimes have thoughts about him, and wonder how he’s doing/if he’s getting married (many of our friends are) and hope he’s happy and enjoys his work, etc. I really and honestly thought it would basically be a “catch up and goodbye” type thing, and that I’d better do it, otherwise I’d never get another chance to see him. I genuinely entertained no ideas of getting back together with him, in fact, I wanted to “heal the scars from the past” so I could really move on.
Well, that was before I got the job. (No, he honestly did not factor into that decision. It was totally unrelated.)
I’m not sure if I would have made the date had I known I was moving back, but it was kind of too late to change it, and I guess since we’ll both be living in the same town, it was probably a good thing to do anyway. Tonight I had a date with him. I really had no idea what to expect.
So here’s where it gets complicated. It turns out he’s single, too, since last summer, and basically all the old feelings are there. We have a really easy rapport, and it feels like we naturally click just like we did in the past. I’m still attracted to him, and I’m pretty sure he’s still attracted to me. (He said at some point that I always look good, when I was trying to hide my terrible driver’s license photo from him). I had to stop myself from reaching out and touching his hair/holding his hand several times, that’s how natural it still feels even after four years. And not like, “twitterpated crazy lust” natural- like “loving parter in crime” natural. To be honest, I was quite shocked that it just all came back like that. I haven’t been pining for him all this time- I’ve been living my life, dating other people (no one as seriously as him) and pretty busy working. Part of me still cared about him, but I feel like I was over it except as you remember a good friend from the past fondly. But maybe I wasn’t really over it. Maybe I’ll never really be over it? In person with him, it’s very hard to be over it!
So my question is, is that a bad thing? I told him truthfully that I would be very busy in the next couple of weeks at work, moving into my new place, and so on. But he said he would love to see me sometime after that. He was sort of respectfully/cautiously friendly and not overtly romantic but I could tell he was nervous/feeling some serious feelings as well, and he offered to pay for everything. Should I be seeing him if I still have those feelings for him? Is it a really terrible idea to date your ex?
Has anyone out there had a similar sort of situation? Is there any way to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes again? How do I know if this is the right thing to pursue or not? Should I just try to be friends with him and not see him that often? Am I just going to ruin his life and mine? I was really not prepared for this.