It’s the end of date number three, but you’re already positive this isn’t going to work out. Sure, he’s a great guy. You have a lot in common and you had no trouble making conversation over dinner. He makes you laugh, he’s good looking, and he has a career that he’s motivated and passionate about. But a lingering doubt continues to brew under the surface. You try to suppress it, but it only grows stronger.
You can’t stop comparing your date to your ex-boyfriend. All of your ex’s little idiosyncrasies, all the things you used to do together…the memories swell in your mind every time you meet New Dude. If only you could recreate your past relationship with this new person.
Ladies, it’s time to come to terms with this fact: that will never happen. And you wouldn’t want it to even if it was possible. Here’s why.
Does This Mean I’m Not Over My Ex?
It’s common to take your preoccupation with your past relationship as a sign that you have unfinished business to take care of. You might even think it means that you should give that relationship a second chance. In reality, it’s neither.
It is completely normal to compare your new date to your ex because your brain automatically groups similar stimuli together. Your brain does this in order to help you more quickly and easily understand when new things happen to you. This is why you instantly recall your ex-boyfriend when you meet new guys. It’s your brain saying, I’ve been in this situation before. It is not a sign that you need to reconsider getting back with your ex.
There’s a Reason You Broke Up
The number one thing to remember is that there is a reason why you and your ex broke up. This could have been for hundreds of reasons. For example, you may have arrived at a breaking point in your previous relationship. You decided that it would be less painful to end the relationship than to continue it one more day. If this is the case, trust yourself. You made that decision because you were unhappy.
Perhaps you were perfectly happy in your relationship, but there were other problems that got in the way. For example, there might have been logistical problems. You lived too far apart and there was no way you could move closer together. Even if the breakup was amicable, you couldn’t make it work. It wasn’t worth it to you. Whatever the issue was, it was unresolvable.
It’s easy to look back nostalgically and forget about the problems your relationship had. Believe it or not, our brains have a proven tendency to do that. Research shows that our memories change every time we recall them. In fact, the more you recall a memory, the less likely it is to be accurate.
Imagine the hundreds of times you replayed in your head various moments in your relationship. Each time you did, the memory changed a little bit. After so many little changes, your memory is probably nothing like the original event.
The Only Exception
The only reason to get back with an ex is if circumstances have actually changed. For example, it’s reasonable to consider rekindling if you once lived far from one another, but now you don’t. Unfortunately, people don’t change as easily as a home address. Chances are the same problems would arise.
No Date Can Compare to a Relationship
Besides these first couple of dates, you have no experiences with this new guy. But the opposite is true of your ex: you have so many memories together. Like that time you took a weekend getaway to the beach, that one time you got lost when you were a little drunk walking downtown, or even all those times you ordered thai food and stayed in watching movies.
You are incapable of a fair comparison between your ex and your date no matter how hard you try. You can’t vividly and accurately recall how you felt after date number three with your ex. It’s impossible to isolate that memory from all the other memories attached to your ex. You may very well make great memories with this new guy, but not if you write him off before you get the chance.
How to Get Over It: Practice, Practice, Practice
This still may not change your proclivity to compare. The only way to stop comparing your dates to your ex is by gently reminding yourself of these things every time you catch yourself making the comparison. Over time, it will become easier. So get out there! Meet some new guys and start making some new memories.