Joe wrote: “My ex-girlfriend and I have been off and on for 4 years. We always feel a strong connection together, but it never seems to get past two months at a time. She has broken up with me a few times in the past, but reached out again after 10 months. We connected again and communication was better. After two months, I broke things off (probably by a fear from the past and how she has broken things off). I realized it was abrupt, but I felt it was needed. This happened at the beginning of February. I did reach out to her with a letter early this month, expressing my apologies. I also stated why I felt this way and how I still miss and love her. My question Liz is this: can this still be repaired? Why do I feel so strongly for this person, but yet we cannot seem to keep a consistent relationship?”
Liz says: This happens a lot, actually, especially when we are young adults and still figuring out what we want and need in a serious relationship.
It sounds like the typical scenario: you’re both physically attracted to each other but incompatibilities keep reminding each of you that this relationship probably can’t last for the long haul, so there’s a back and forth within yourselves and the relationship, a tug-of-war between your hearts and minds. You try to make it work because the attraction is strong enough, but then, for example, she makes fun of you in front of your friends and tells you she wouldn’t marry someone who didn’t make at least $150k a year and you’re back to being ready to dump her again. In your case, you mention a fear of being dumped again as the motive for beating her to it, but even that can often be a sign of a serious lack of trust and good communication. Sometimes after the break-up all it takes to contact the ex again is feeling lonely or being rejected by someone new, so a vulnerable time can have you seeking an ex’s companionship and the cycle continues.
Since I don’t know the details of what those incompatibilities are between you two, it’s difficult for me to encourage “repairing” this relationship. The tug-of-war is usually a sign that the couple doesn’t belong together or at the very least they are too immature for a serious relationship anyway.
More often than not, many couples try their best to ignore serious differences and force the relationship to “work”, but end up frustrated by one or both having to compromise themselves too much, which can be soul-crushing. Many couples finally break up for good and look back wondering what took them so long.
My advice is to stop trying to force 2 puzzle pieces to fit together and eventually you’ll find the right puzzle piece. When you do find the right puzzle piece, it won’t feel like so much “work” to get along and enjoy each other. It’s not that you two won’t fight, it’s that disagreements will be less often and usually resolved more quickly.
But if your differences are minor and you feel that the break-ups are more due to bad communication and fears, then open up to her with direct, honest language and ask her if she sees the possibility of you two fixing those issues and being happy together.
Good luck, Joe!