The COVID-19 pandemic has created a world where social distancing and self-isolation is not just optional; it is required. In these times, it is very easy for a single person to feel a level of need to be connected to other people.
As in-person dating is hard at the moment, and definitely a safety and health concern, those singles living on their own are particularly vulnerable to the lure of going back to an ex and re-exploring past relationships.
The Temptation of Going Back To An Ex
If you’re single and feeling the need to re-connect with someone you have had a relationship with, even if it wasn’t the relationship you wanted, you’re experiencing this for good reason.
Studies on the neuroscience of connections with others have demonstrated that the human brain is hardwired to seek out these types of connections. Specializing in the neuroscience of human connection in social situations, Dr. Matthew Lieberman offers the theory that the ability to connect and maintain social connections is the most important predictor of happiness and emotional health and well-being for humans of any age and gender.
While the goal is to be with partners that provide positive, uplifting, and supportive experiences, in times of stress or when we feel isolated or vulnerable, the need for any type of connection becomes our focus at a subconscious level.
Unfortunately, this can lead people to reach out to destructive or emotionally damaging partners. In the very best scenario, it means risking another breakup and unfulfilling relationship at a time when you are already vulnerable and emotionally fragile.
Changing Your Mindset on Going Back to an Ex
Social connections in a dating context provide the opportunity to share, empathize, and support each other. In these uncertain and challenging times, building a social support network that provides this neurological need and helps you to feel emotionally strong and resilient is the key to avoid going back to bad relationships from the past.
To create resilience and to feel connected with positive, supportive people, try these strategies:
Be honest with yourself
If you’re feeling lonely, discouraged, stressed, anxious, or unsettled, be open and honest with yourself. Once you stop trying to convince yourself you are fine on your own, you can start to look for positive people to connect with.
Engage with friends and family
While you may not be able to meet in person, social media and online video platforms provide a free way to connect with others. Consider getting a group of friends together on Facebook, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or any other platform you choose and host a virtual dinner party, a karaoke night or just a chat.
Find something in your world every day and be grateful. This may be reaching out to someone via email and saying thanks, or just being mindful and enjoying a beautiful sunrise or sunset.
Find something you enjoy and do it
Keeping yourself mentally and physically occupied with things you enjoy is another way to boost the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Read a favorite book, start a new hobby, or access a free online workout you can do in your home.
Getting outdoors, even for a short walk, is a great way to boost your mental and physical energy levels. This is also a way to see and talk to others, and outdoor spaces make it easy to maintain at least a 6-foot social distance.
Avoid constant news overload
The messages on television and online from news outlets can be overwhelming. This can increase feelings of anxiety, stress, and distress. Limit your time spent on these types of websites and television stations to avoid these feelings.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and lonely, many therapists and counselors are offering online sessions. These can be an ideal way to create a plan for yourself to avoid going back to a bad relationship and going back to an ex for the sake of security and social support. When it’s done, let it be done and keep moving forward.
Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re struggling with co-dependency, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break-up. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books Love Smacked: How to Break the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to find Everlasting Love or Infinite Recovery