The Dating Nerd is a shadowy figure whose whereabouts and identifying details remain unknown. What we do know is that he is really, really good at dating. He’s been on more dates than you can shake a lengthy bar tab at, and he’s here to help the average guy step his dating game up a notch — or several.
Hi Dating Nerd,
I just got out of a year-long relationship. Or so I thought. My girlfriend dumped me a few weeks ago and broke my heart. Then she texted me late one night that she was thinking about things and starting to think she had made the wrong move. I got the sense that she was probably drunk, so I ignored it. But the next morning she followed up and for the next few days kept texting me, begging me to meet up and talk things over. I shouldn’t be considering this, right? It’s insane. But I can’t stop thinking about it.
– On the Fence
Oh boy. You’re really in deep, aren’t you? Reader, I say this because nobody escapes the tremendous embarrassment of getting back together with someone who dumped you. The indignity is enormous. Your mother will be concerned. Your co-workers, who watched you become progressively more unkempt as your awful relationship progressed, will look at you funny. Your buddies, after having endured many beery rants about how your ex didn’t appreciate how manly your manliness is, will give you truly Biblical amounts of crap for this. Even your dentist, if you tell your dentist, will pity you. Do you really want someone poking around in your mouth with a tiny steel hook, saying consoling things about your romantic life?
But you’re considering it anyway. You wrote the Dating Nerd. So you’re in love. Or, at least, you were in serious lust — the kind where every sober instinct in your body is instantly shattered by the very specific flutter of a very specific set of eyelashes. You don’t care about being mistreated — not enough that you know, without a doubt, that you shouldn’t go back to your ex who mistreated you. You apparently don’t care about those long nights where you hoped your roommates couldn’t hear you cry, because, of course, you never cry, ever, do you?
I’m sorry. That’s rough. Nevertheless. Don’t do it. Do not take her back. Listen: I know that love is invaluable. We do all sorts of unwise things for love. We date people with drug addictions. We adopt shelter dogs who tried to eat their last owner. We do karaoke. If you really need this woman so bad that you’re willing to be a total dumb-ass so you can have her in your life again, well, there’s nothing I can tell you. What I can tell you is that you’d be a total dumb-ass for doing so.
I mean, what’s the best-case scenario here? The best-case scenario is that she really, truly changed her mind about you. When you were together, she was heartened by what a good boyfriend you were, or just how handsome you are, you handsome rogue, you — but she was also pulling out her (presumably pretty and nice-smelling) hair all the time because of all the ways you pissed her off. She didn’t like the fact that you didn’t trim your pubes. She was embarrassed by your Instagram filter choices.
But now she misses you. She realizes she took you for granted — that every person has profoundly annoying qualities, but that not everyone is as profoundly great a boyfriend as you were. Now, all day, every day, a little heart-shaped (or dick-shaped) thought bubble that you inhabit floats above her head. She really, truly wants you back.
Sounds nice, right? Wrong. This is terrible. This is a bad sign. Because she should’ve realized you were great before she broke up with you!
Think about it. She knew that dumping you would hurt you. She knew how you’d feel humiliated. She knew about how silly your constant Tweets about your relationship would seem after she nonchalantly broke your heart. And none of that made her stop and think, y’know, maybe I should stay with this attractive, caring person who is very good at sex, despite the terrifying fact that they aren’t literally perfect. Nope.
This says that she’s not a reliable person. She doesn’t yet know what every mature human being should: that really important decisions — like ones concerning you — should be based on long-term thinking, rather than short-term emotions. If you resume a relationship with somebody like this, how long can you expect it to last? Maybe she’ll break up with you again because she’s having a spell of indigestion. Maybe she’ll break up with you because she’s distracted by her hot new personal trainer. Whatever. You can’t be sure that she’ll remember how valuable you are. It’s vanishingly unlikely that, in the short time since your breakup, she’s become the kind of self-assured, steady-handed person who won’t screw you around again.
And, remember, that’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that she just straight-up doesn’t care about you that much at all, and that she never really did. In this scenario, as lovely as you were, you didn’t leave a lasting impression — you essentially served as entertainment, not a three-dimensional human being she felt any responsibility for. So she broke up with you because she was bored, and, now, she’s bored again, after fooling around with 1-10 other guys, backpacking through Argentina, studying astrophysics, or whatever the hell she thought would be exciting. Now, you’re appealing again just because you haven’t been around for awhile.
There are people like this, of every gender — intense, charming, immensely self-involved people who care way more about their amusement than the people who amuse them. Dating someone like this is totally forgivable, because crazy, boundary-breaking people have a special kind of charisma — volatile people are exciting. But they also provide a special kind of pain. Get out as soon as you can.
And, finally, it’s not even particularly important whether your ex is a careless person, or a cruel person, or some wonderful salad of carelessness and cruelty. What’s important is that if you get back together with your ex, you show them that they can get whatever they want. They can destroy the relationship, and they can depend on you to put it back together again. They can scream at you, tell their friends you’re an asshole, tell your friends you’re an asshole, and you’re right back at it two weeks later, buying them extremely expensive eggs at their favourite fancy brunch spot.
This is always bad — it’s bad for you, and it’s bad for them. People do change, but they tend to change slowly. Generally, you mature at the exact rate that life requires you to. If you tell your ex she can’t have you, you’re delivering another, very important message as well — don’t screw around with people’s hearts. You’re also telling her (and telling yourself) that you have enough self-respect that you won’t put up with someone screwing around with yours.
Think you could use some dating help, too? Email the Dating Nerd at firstname.lastname@example.org.