Someone close to me recently told me he had started dating his ex-girlfriend for the fourth time. This couple, who at one point were living together and engaged, haven’t been able to make it work the previous three times they decided to have a relationship. But they still have feelings for each other and despite dating other people, they continue to feel a way about each other they can’t find with anyone else.
I like to call this “repetidating” – a phenomenon where two people continue to pursue a relationship with the same person over and over again, despite the many obstacles they have faced over several break-ups. There are two types of repetidaters: the ones who date the same person multiple times, and the ones who date the same personality types multiple times.
In speaking to several friends, I found that a lot of people tend to enter into this cycle on a regular basis. This fascinates me. I’ve never had a serious relationship that I wanted to revisit after a break-up. My mentality is, if we are done, we are done. But a lot of people I know tend to keep the door ajar following a break up, instead of slamming it, locking it, and moving a gigantic dresser in front of it like I do.
At first, I was really against this whole situation. After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results … so re-dating someone = insanity, right? Why would you continue to torture yourself over a relationship you already know doesn’t work?
But then I really thought about it. If you found someone who you felt really was a soulmate, why wouldn’t you try many times to make it work? People experience new things every day, so they are constantly changing every day. Maybe the first time didn’t work, but who says the third time won’t stick? For example, my friend who is dating his ex-girlfriend again said they are going to try couples therapy this time – before they really jump back in – which seems to be a good start to a brand new relationship.
Dating people with the same personalities, though, may not be such a great idea. Of course you want to find someone who you click with, but if you continue to date a-holes then you should probably think about switching it up a little bit. I realize it’s hard to change your ways overnight, but there are patterns of behavior you can learn to recognize way before you get seriously involved in the relationship. Talk to your friends – you might be surprised how objective they can be. Or check out some relationship books about recognizing red flags right away so the next time that jerk comes along you can tell him to keep on moving.
Emily Campbell is a perpetually single, 20-something girl-around-town who loves Shakespeare, old movies, Natty Boh, and of course, long walks on the beach. A sales manager by day and freelance writer by night, she was recently forced into a life of involuntary celibacy when her last relationship fizzled out over a text message. She’s tired of settling for second – or tenth – best, and she’s ready to find Mr. Right. Or, Mr. Nearly Right. No one’s perfect…which she has learned the hard (but hilarious) way.