“Should I get back with my ex — after five breakups?”

Hi Dr. Ali,
I have a quick question for you. My ex and I have dated on and off since my divorce, and each time he seems to find a way to break off the relationship, only to come back a couple of months later (sometimes sooner) and tell me how much he misses me. We have tried at least 5 times to make it work and it never does. Although, I have been with many other men who completely fall in love with me, I can’t seem to stop thinking about the first and every time he emails me I go back, and break the heart of who ever I am with. Anyway cut to the chase right! He has come back once again (the last time I broke it off saying I didn’t feel he was into the relationship, but he seemed perfectly fine with it), saying that he is completely in love with me and wants nothing more than to have a life with me. He is throwing in marriage, living together etc. So my question is – Is it possible that he has changed and this can truly work? Or is it just another ploy to see if he can get me back? Thank you for your advice. — Amanda

Amanda  —

Hoo boy.  I love questions like these.  My quick answer to you, in the form of a story:
Imagine that you live in a big city with thousands of restaurants.  There’s this one restaurant that used to be your absolute favorite.  But you got sick once, and you stopped going.  But then they sent you coupons and wanted you back, so you relented and went back.  And got sick again. FIVE TIMES.

What would you call someone who kept on going back to that one restaurant to the exclusion of the thousands of others?  And kept on getting sick?

There are millions of men out there whom you have never divorced nor broken up with.  I say you give them a shot! I don’t know your ex, but from here it sounds like that experiment has run its course, and he’s a narcissist bent on making sure you don’t get together with a guy who actually makes you happy.

Your ex may not necessarily be a horrible person, mind you.  It’s just that he is 100% full of crap.  He may even be genuinely in love with you, in the same way that a crackhead is in love with his pipe: it has nothing to do with you. Get as far away from him as possible, and cease all contact.

Remember that fulfillment is a feeling, not a person.  If he’s repeatedly proven himself to be the cause of your misery (and that of your companion at the time), he’s the wrong person.

Also ask yourself: if 5 breakups aren’t enough to prove he’s wrong for you, then how many would be? 25? 108? Would be kinda embarrassing to explain that to your kids.  If you had a daughter, what kind of example would you be setting for her? Hrmm hrmm ponder ponder.

From the fact that this has occurred 5 times, I’m thinking this is one of those situations where you may not be able to do this on your own, so please enlist the help of friends, church or community members to make sure you stay away from him.