I often hear people says “when will my love comes back or should I already give up?” When it comes to the matters of the heart, the most common response is “my heart tells me yes, but my head says no.” A client will call and ask this exact same question knowing clearly in their mind the honest answer already exists. Yet we question if we made the right decision.
Love Cannot be Easily Erased
Genuine love is profound — it does not come and go every now and then; it is something that is likely to last over time. This does not mean that love cannot fade away, but even when it does, it leaves scars. Indeed, the feelings of romantic love cannot be easily erased. They are more likely to fade, to be put aside, or to be buried under the existing circumstances; but they can make an impressive comeback in appropriate circumstances.
Those circumstances are also associated with our present situation. When we are sad, lonely or just feeling we have lost ourselves, it is natural to look for an alternative situation. And one of the first places to do so is our past, and especially in our relationships with those people with whom we were in love. Our memories are one form of our imagination, and we can rapidly move from one place to another and from one time to another, dwelling more upon positive experiences we want to re-experience, or negative experiences we cannot escape.
Reliving the Past
Yearning for an ex-lover is a type of nostalgia for circumstances that no longer exist. It is usually marked by idealization of the past and an element of virtual reliving of the past. When we find ourselves in circumstances like those that prevailed with an ex-lover, we slip more readily into a romantic state. Our memory is activated by any reoccurrence of circumstances that prevailed in the original experience. Listening to old love songs and watching romantic movies can provoke a strong yearning for the past lovers with whom we shared these experiences with.
The wish to be back with the lover is not activated merely because our current situation is desperate, but also by the memory of a passionate love. Sometimes loneliness makes the loudest noise; at other times, profound love provides louder and deeper music. It is quite natural to yearn for a past lover, particularly if the original relationship was reciprocal and fulfilling.
If we idealize our past romance even as we remember the negative parting, the conflict between these two ways of remembering the past can confuse us about the prospects of a romantic reunion. As someone said, “Some exes don’t get the picture that they will never be back in the picture.”
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
The charms of the past are also associated with past difficulties. In most cases of broken relationships, the romance did not work out and parting was the optimal solution. Given that most people are unlikely to have changed considerably, romantic reunions might be unable to surmount the difficulties that the relationship encountered in the past. It can be like seeing the same movie again and again while knowing that a sad ending is inevitable. Another difficulty of romantic reunions is that breakups are often not mutual; rather, one person dumps the other. In this case, the memory of the rejection and the inequality in status between the two lovers can be an obstacle to a romantic reunion.
There are some noticeable exceptions to the above gloomy prognosis for reunions. If the parting was due not to lack of love but to unfavorable external circumstances, such as when the two lovers were married to other people, or there were difficulties at work or in raising the children, should new circumstances arise that do not include the previous difficulties, the earlier love can be rekindled and a successful reunion might take place.
When a romantic relationship ends not because of romantic reasons, but due to non romantic external circumstances, it leaves the relationship unresolved, in a state of unfinished business. And like other such unfinished affairs, this heightens the level of emotional intensity, since there are distinct options that might have evolved. As Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City asked: “When a relationship dies, do we ever really give up the ghost, or are we forever haunted by the spirits of past relationships?” The lure of a possible romantic reunion is great, but so is the specter of another painful breakup.
The following slogan on a T-Shirt sums this up: “I Feel Much Better Since I Gave Up Hope.” Our dreams about ex-lovers are not characterized by a sense of tranquility but rather we are searching for peace of mind. Peace of mind in turn provides us with a way to move on. Moving on is how we remain intact.