Getting dumped once is bad enough but getting dumped twice (or more times) is enough to make you confused about what you’re doing wrong.
If you’re in this on-again-off-again situation where your ex dumps you then takes you back them dumps you again, today I’ll teach you the psychology behind this and how you can put an end to this cycle once and for all.
We will discuss the three stages that every dumper who dumps you more than once goes through so you can really understand what your ex is thinking.
Good News And Bad News About Being Dumped Twice
So, we have some good news and bad news if you’re in an on-again-off-again relationship:
Good news: You have much higher chances of success at getting your ex back if they’ve already dumped you at least two times compared to average people who have only been dumped once.
Bad news: Most of the time, people who get such exes back seem to break up again much faster as the relationship never lasts too long.
What is going on in an exes head if you get stuck in this vicious on again off again cycle.
The Three Stages Of The Dumpers Psychological Mindset
Ultimately there are three stages of the psychological cycle of an ex who dumps you twice.
- Setting the breakup bar
- The Limerence Stage
- Expectations And Realities Don’t Match
Allow me to expand.
Stage #1: Setting the breakup bar
What do I mean when I talk about the breakup bar?
Breakup bar – simply put, every single person on this planet has their own internal score that they give each individual person that they date.
If the score is high, the breakup bar is high because you wouldn’t want to leave that person but as the score goes down, so does the breakup bar, and the likelihood of a breakup increases.
Everyone assigns these arbitrary breakup bar values to their partners, but no one ever talks about it so there isn’t much research on it.
For the sake of simplicity let’s imagine the breakup bar going from 1 to 100, 1 being the worst score possible with the highest probability of a breakup and 100 being the opposite.
At the beginning of a relationship, both partners usually value each other at 100. The person you are with looks at you in such a high state of positive emotion that they don’t think you can do anything wrong. We also call this the honeymoon period.
In their mind, there’s no way or reason they’d ever break up with you. This is why we advise clients whose exes have moved on to be patient and not take any aggressive ex recovery steps at the beginning of the new relationship’s honeymoon period.
The breakup bar has been set too high and your ex would never want to give up their new connection to be back with you. Interestingly, the breakup bar is always comparing the new person to the old person.
So, at first, the new person always scores better but that can change as time goes on and reality sets in.
The more time goes on, the more ups and downs a relationship will go through.
All the little inconveniences of life will slowly start stripping away at the new relationship’s breakup bar until they get to a point of considering a breakup.
This can even happen if your ex doesn’t get with a new person – they simply try to get someone new and consistently fail which makes them feel bad and reminisce about how good things were with you.
They start to romanticize the past and it makes them a lot more vulnerable to the limerence stage.
Stage #2: Limerence stage
Limerence is one of those hot keywords buzzing around the relationships and breakups scene right now and here’s how Wikipedia defines it:
“Limerence is a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person and typically includes obsessive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship with the object of love and have one’s feelings reciprocated. Limerence can also be defined as an involuntary state of intense romantic desire.”
Basically, limerence means obsessing over the person you want.
Once your ex is past the first stage, limerence will make them compare their new reality to the past and they’ll begin to romanticize and miss the “good old days” they had with you.
Eventually, this might sow the seeds of wanting to get back together with you as well.
Most of our clients who are in on-again-off-again relationships get their exes back when their ex is going through a limerence state of mind.
Now that’s usually more than enough to make people happy and take their exes back but you need to realize that this new relationship is just built on quicksand.
In the state of limerence an ex doesn’t take you back because they think you’re the right person, they take you back because they think they can’t do any better.
The problem with that is that it’s not a great foundation for a new relationship and any temptation can throw them back into the “grass is greener” syndrome that puts you back in the “off-again” stage. That leads us to the third stage.
Stage #3: Realizations that expectations and realities don’t match
Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I’m a huge fan of storytelling in general.
I love movies of all types of genres but the one movie that always seems to stick out for me when it comes to romantic comedies is the very clever movie 500 days of summer.
I don’t want to spoil anything or give you a rundown of the whole movie, but the basic idea is about a guy going through a breakup who’s trying to get his ex back. We’re reliving the breakup mostly from his point of view and a little bit through hers.
The movie has a really impactful scene that’s all about how we build up expectations to the point of being fantasies and then reality hits in a devastating way and crushes those ideas.
When an ex who’s dumped you more than once takes you back, they go through their own expectations vs. reality dilemma.
They’re expecting that the way they will feel when they get back together with you is exactly how they built it up in their heads, but reality doesn’t always work out that way and that’s when a breakup happens again…and again and the cycle repeats.
That’s essentially what on-again-off-again relationships look like on a grand scale. So, is it possible to stop this cycle?
How to break out of the vicious on-again-off-again cycle?
There is a lot to unpack here and one article cannot possibly lay out an exact strategic game plan to fix your situation.
Honestly, there’s no specific set strategy that will automatically work in such cases, so the more important part is understanding two core components of the vicious on-again-off-again cycle.
Once you understand the components, you can work on fixing what you can control and letting go of what you can’t.
The two components of the on-again-off-again cycle:
- Your ex having really unrealistic expectations and taking you back for the wrong reasons
- Your desperateness of taking them back.
There’s not much you can do about your ex’s internal expectations so here’s some cliché but tried-and-tested advice to help you get over this situation and hopefully rebuild a relationship on a foundation that can survive:
Don’t allow yourself to believe that your ex is the best you’ll ever find
I talk about this all the time with regards to men and women putting their exes on impossibly unrealistic pedestals where their ex can do no wrong.
You’re going through the exact same romanticized period as your ex where you only look back at the best parts of the relationship and conveniently ignore the bad ones.
You may find yourself thinking you’ll never find anyone who makes you feel so special and that’s when you trap yourself in a desperate state.
You become so desperate to fix things and make everything exactly like it was before that you’d take your ex back as soon as they said so even if you knew things weren’t going to change.
You have to accept the reality that things will never go back to the way they were before and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Things can actually get better too if you approach it the right way.
The right way to approach an ex who slips into the on-again-off-again system is by acting with dignity and putting your foot down about fixing past problems.
Remember: We’re trying to create a scenario where your ex doesn’t see taking you back as a favor where they can keep dumping you and taking you back whenever they want. We want to break that cycle and make your ex realize that you will not be used that way anymore.
You need to realize you’re worth more than your ex.
The moment you adopt the mindset of realizing your true worth you will have the strength and dignity to stop settling for the bare minimum.
I’m not suggesting that you need to be aggressive about this at all, just that you need to become an active participant in the conversation about getting back together rather than just being a passive recipient who accepts whatever their ex says.
Think of it like this – a dumper who has dumped you more than once and continues taking you back is the one usually making all the decisions. They are active, you are passive.
It is time for you to take back the reigns and become more active. Next time your ex asks for you back you can say something like:
“I’ll think about it” – so he knows that you have other options and aren’t too desperate to be with him,
“Not until you fix Xyz habit of yours” – this way your ex knows you mean business and you will not go back into a relationship where they keep repeating their negative behaviors and patterns.
An ex who keeps dumping you and then taking you back is addicted to the idea of you and the power they have over you, but they’re not really interested in bettering the relationship.
If your ex is too stuck in their expectations and refuses to put any work into the new relationship you should consider gathering up all your courage and dignity to let them know that you will not be treated this way any longer.
If they want you back, they need to understand that you’re not a safety net they can keep coming back to and leaving whenever they want.