Ross and Rachel, Finn and Rachel, Luke and Lorelai, Joey and Pacey, Noah and Allie ... All classic Hollywood stories of lovers who broke up but somehow (likely by or during a series finale) found their way back to one another. It's the glue that holds our most classic romantic movies and TV shows together. But these fave on-screen couples aren't just fictional characters ... Their happily-ever-after love stories are false, too! At least according to preliminary new research that says "second chance romances" -- aka getting back with an ex -- rarely work!
Study author Amber Vennum from Kansas State University looked at couples who had broken up and gotten back together again (called "cyclical" couples) and couples who had never broken up, and the results really shouldn't be all that shocking. But considering the fantasies about reuniting with an ex that we've been spoon-fed since we were read our first fairy tale, it seems like we could use a wake-up call.
Here are the facts: Cyclical couples were generally more impulsive than noncyclical couples about major relationship decisions, like moving in together, buying a pet, or having a child. As a result, the "off again-on again" pairs tended to be less satisfied with their partner, had worse communication, had lower self-esteem, made more decisions that harmed their relationship, and were less certain about their future together. Ugh, sounds positively nightmarish.
Furthermore, cyclical couples were more likely to experience a decline in satisfaction with marriage over time and were more likely to have a trial separation within the first three years of marriage. Vennum says that's because if you were breaking up and getting back together again while dating, that same kind of "cyclical" behavior perpetuates into marriage. And it creates a lack of trust, uncertainty about the future of the relationship, etc. Sad, but makes a lot of sense!
Still, some couples can't resist the thrill of trying to make it work for a second, third, fourth time. Maybe this time, maybe he/she's changed, maybe this, maybe that ... but I really feel like once you break up, no matter what, irreparable damage has been inflicted on the relationship. It's broken -- permanently. Vennum has a plain as day recommendation for busted-up couples: Don't get back together.
The thing is ... what's in our hearts isn't as black and white as this research, and sometimes we'd much rather go with how we feel over what's logical. In that case, the researcher advises making sure "the decision is carefully considered by both people and that specific efforts are made to establish clarity." And also know: You've been warned.
Have you ever gotten back together with an ex? Do you agree it leads to sadness?
Image via NBC