Why We (Try To) Get Back Together With Our Exes

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Maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve found yourself breaking up and getting back together with an ex. Perhaps you know someone who has fallen into that cycle and you're frustrated about why they can’t break the pattern.

When it comes to getting back together with exes, it goes far beyond what your logical brain might be thinking, which Bustle does a great job of explaining in this video.

The urge to get back together is hardwired.

First of all, it’s not about willpower. Our feelings and urges towards an ex stem from unconscious activity in our brains. It’s more complex than just nostalgia. It's rooted in the reward and pleasure system that’s hardwired into our brain.

When you think about your ex, there are two primary chemicals released into the body. The first one is dopamine. The release of this is the brain’s way of telling you what’s really important and is triggered when you see something (or someone!) you like or love. Kind of like that feeling you get when you eat your favorite cookie. It makes you feel good and is even comparable to a high. Dopamine essentially controls feelings of desire.

So, even if you know on an intellectual level that your ex isn’t right for you, you can still experience a huge surge of dopamine.

The next chemical that’s released is oxytocin - this hormone associated with trust, intimacy, and bonding. When you break up with someone, your oxytocin drops and it reminds you of the chemical bond between you and your ex.

Your brain also looks at getting back together through the "investment model."

It doesn’t stop there though. There’s also the ‘investment model’ that plays an important part in breaking up and getting back together. This is where you start weighing the ratio of good things in comparison to the bad. Practical factors like money can play into this as well as then thinking about the quality of your alternatives. In other words, who out there in the dating arena might be better.

Interestingly though, people in on/off relationships have been found to experience higher levels of satisfaction. The uncertainty creates a sense of mystery, novelty, and excitement. The entire renewal of the relationship keeps you on your toes and that in itself can be addictive, despite not always being healthy.

There are two main triggers that create breakups.

The two main triggers that create breakups are communication difficulties and undesirable behaviors. Ultimately, if you want the cycle to end, the only way a successful reunion can really happen is if you and your ex are willing to listen to each other, work on issues together, and align your goals.

If you don't understand why you’ve gotten back together with an ex, or if you’re stuck in that place now, we hope this video sheds some light.

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