Rihanna and Drake; Miley and Liam; Behati and Adam—even Hollywood’s most elite stars aren’t immune to the magnetic pull of an ex-partner. So don’t feel bad if you find yourself tempted to get back together with yours at one time or another, because you’re not even remotely alone. 60 percent of people are open to the idea of getting back together with an ex even after being dumped, according to a recent study of 1,200 American adults by dating website Elite Singles.
Other than the fact that breakups are complicated and most of us still harbor some sort of feelings towards former partners, what’s at play here? Thanks to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the like, we’re all able to keep up with our ex’s activities a lot more easily, and that means you might be more motivated to reach out, says clinical sexologist and couple’s therapist Dr. Eve, author of the bestselling book Cyber Infidelity: The New Seduction.
“Social media with its triple AAA engine—affordable, accessible, and anonymous—makes ongoing contact more seductive and tempting,” she says. “Young people have less emotional control around their devices, not to mention the fact that today’s dating culture has fewer clear rules and boundaries, which can be torturous and confusing. People don’t always get closure at the end of a breakup, which makes sticking to it even harder.”
According to the study, one in two people have been broken up with, only to have their partner change their minds afterward. “Often, there’s huge ambivalence about endings, so mixed messages are sent, intentionally or not,” says Dr. Eve. “It’s a way of working it out and making sure ending it is the right decision.” And ultimately, it seems, plenty of couples decide it wasn’t the right decision—at least not now.
One in three people also keep having sex with their ex even after the relationship is finito, for “reasons like not receiving enough love and attention.” In other words, plain old loneliness. Intriguingly, though, 65 percent of people who’ve slept with their ex don’t regret it. So apparently the system works OK for some. “Each person has to define for himself or herself how much contact and what kind—physical, emotional, et cetera—is tolerable,” says Dr. Eve. “Often, contact with an ex ends when new partners arrive and aren’t OK with it.” Or the relationship just picks back up.
The good news is, if you’re a woman, it’s likelier that you know what you’re doing when you call things off. Almost 50 percent of men have regretted initiating a breakup, whereas just 30 percent of women feel the same way. If you are currently in the throes of trying to figure out whether or not getting back together is the right decision, here are a few smart things to consider. Or, if you know breaking up is the right thing but are struggling to stop seeing each other, here’s some advice for making a clean break. Otherwise, to all you couples giving it another go because you didn’t realize what you had until it was gone—mazel and good luck.