Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City was in this situation. I’ve caught many of my friends lying about it, too. I’m talking about getting caught up with someone you don’t want your friends to know you’re seeing. This usually involves a person you think your friends will frown upon.
I’ve comforted many friends who just left their long-term relationships convinced that they made the right decision. As they begun to move on, their ex began to pop up at housewarming parties where kisses were exchanged as if nothing had happened. Everyone in the room was equally puzzled but did not want to question how that happened between the heartache the night before and the ramification of what we saw the next day.
The few times I do ask what happened with the abrupt turn of events, I get the usual answer: “It’s complicated. Don’t worry we’re still broken up.”
Sneaking around with an ex is not uncommon particularly if you had a strong attachment to that person or if you are unsure about the breakup. You fear the questions that might come from close friends for whom you have no answers.
People often say that love can make you do crazy things but I’m a firm believer that separation produces craziness. It can shake your confidence in the decision you made or subject you to taking back someone who is less than you deserve.
I call this the boomerang effect of breakup when the reasons you broke up with someone are pushed aside to gain back all the euphoric feelings of the good times. There is a high likelihood that you won’t be in the clear from this effect for the first six months after a breakup. Your attachment system is asking you to gain back the feelings of comfort without utilizing logic behind that decision.
The first reunion after the breakup is usually the best where you begin to feel what you thought was lost. However, it usually doesn’t take that long before you realize that not much has changed and you’re left wondering why you ever ventured down the same path with that other person.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a believer in change. I would not be a therapist if I didn’t think that change was possible. But change takes time, commitment and awareness. The dynamic that is created between couples is not built overnight and neither is a solution.
If you feel that a little space and time away from anyone’s input is what you need to gain clarity, go for it. Just be sure that you are not alienating your friends on the way and polarizing your friends and your secret love. Most people want their friends to be happy and will err on the protective side to ensure you are not a casualty of heartbreak. Maybe sneaking around is the ultimate avoidance to facing reality for a taste of the tranquility of a dream. The difference is we all eventually wake up from a dream and it’s better to get out before it becomes a nightmare.
Amy Yew is a researcher and therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to email@example.com. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.