When Scum Gravitate Towards Good People
Have you ever given a bad romantic relationship another try?
Bad Decisions Repeated
It’s a Friday night. You and a bunch of your friends are dining at a local chain restaurant. It is your night to unwind. It is the night you set aside to reconnect with people you barely had time to speak to during the week. It is supposed to be an enjoyable, relaxing, freeing evening. However, one of your friends has just broken up with the disaster she called her boyfriend for the past six months. Though you’ve been praying for this to happen, you didn’t factor in the time you’d spend having to console her. While you saw this man for the mess he was, she saw him as her “darling snuggle bunny.” Being the true friends that you are, your group listens, the whole night, to her going on and on about him. After a box of tissues and two tall beverages containing mostly alcohol and funky flavored juices, she has finally calmed down. The loser is out of her life and she’s thrilled.
Two month later, “dsb” is back in the picture. On an unassuming night in an otherwise uneventful week, the ground broke open and Satan shot him right back into her life via phone. He didn’t find true love with the teenager he left her for after all. He wants to meet for drinks. Your once clear headed friend is suddenly back to her old ways. She asks you what she should do. You both know that whatever is said during this conversation will go in one ear and out the other. Still you talk to her, for an hour and a half, trying to convince her to remember what he was like so she won’t rush back into his arms. Possessing the type of optimism that only surfaces when an ex is around, she assures you that he has changed. She heard it in his voice or some other crap like that. He will commit this time, she says, but to what or who you do not know.
Why do otherwise intelligent people return to exs? This is something that has always puzzled me. Knowing that things went badly the first time, why would you want to go back for seconds? Granted, there are some relationships that are a lot better the second time around. The time between attempts was just enough time for each to work out personal kinks. Yet, there are many more that get the same negative result each time they try making things work. What is the appeal?
I believe these people to be true optimists. They see the best in someone and don’t want to stop trying to bring that out in them. Foolishly, they believe that this optimism is enough to keep a sinking relationship afloat. Others return because it’s familiar. They’ve tried dating other people and the results they got were even worse than being with their ex. On the same note, people return because they feel they can’t do any better. To these people, being with the wrong person beats being alone. While we, the people that love them, see them for the incredible individuals that they are, they only see what they are able to see. Unbelievable as it is, people return because they genuinely love their ex. They see their flaws and don’t want to change them. They know that their ex is a problematic person, but they are pulled towards them just the same. Does it make sense to us? Not one bit. It’ll never make sense because we love them too much to be able to be happy about them being with someone who has made them feel pain.
What can you do about your loved one repeatedly making this mistake? Nothing. You can love them and build them up each time their ex knocks them down, but it’s up to them to end this pattern. If they do not see their ex’s faults, you’ll only drive them away by noting said faults. They are too blinded by their emotions to see the burning wreck in front of them. To keep a relationship with them, unfortunately, you can only stand beside them and hope that things improve on their own. If you can’t watch them keep making the same mistake, you don’t have to. When it comes down to it, you’re watching because you want to. No one asks another person to watch them make mistakes. While it is important to let your loved one know you care and are there if you need them, sometimes you just need to step back and center on your own life. Knowing how the cycle goes, they’ll be back, asking for your shoulder, before you know it. It is up to you to decide if you want to offer it. Beyond that, there’s little you can do.