“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein.
(Well, the internet insists he said this so I’ll credit it to him. Either way it’s a jolly good quote.)
One thing I have never understood about relationships: people going back to an ex-partner.
To me this makes about as much sense as hitting your thumb with a hammer a second time, just to be sure the pain you felt the first time wasn’t a fluke. In fact, I find it hard to comprehend why anyone would repeat anything that has been proven not to work.
So if you are considering going back to an ex, or your old job, or to live in a city you used to hate etc., I want you to try this little mind-experiment exercise. Note I just made this up on the drive home from work.
Let’s use the example of going back to your ex. I’m going to give you a series of questions I want you to ask yourself before you even go anywhere near doing this.
Say you are attracted to one gender and for the sake of this example we’ll use women (it doesn’t matter which we use). Ask yourself the following questions.
Question #1: How many women are there on the planet?
Most common Google results estimate between 3.5 and 4 billion, as women slightly outnumber men. Spell it out: 3,500,000,000… wait, how many zero’s in a billion? Doesn’t matter I suppose, its heaps. This same question could be applied to a career as well, such as “how many jobs are there in the world?”
Question #2: How many of these women are age-appropriate?
For me, I would say between the ages of 20 and 40 at a guess would be a reasonable way to narrow it down. So now we’re getting into “guess-a-mathics” where we will make up statistics just for the sake of argument. This is just a mind-experiment so go nuts. I would conservatively guess that of the 3.5 billion women in the world, about 1 billion of them fall into this age bracket.
Question #3: How many of these 1 billion women are available?
Again, more estimation. But we know divorce rates are pretty high and the average relationship isn’t very long, so most of these women will at least become available soon if they aren’t already. So let’s knock the number down to about 7-800 million.
Question #4: Of these 700 million women, how many live nearby?
Well, there’s just over 1 million people in my city and let’s pretend I will never travel overseas or anywhere else (highly unlikely but I’m just making a point here). That leaves me with about a third of the women in my town based on the previous questions. So we’re looking at a conservative guess of about 100-200 thousand women. Let’s be really conservative and call it 100,000.
Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in.
All within driving distance.
All likely to be available within the next few years at least.
Even if I’m only attracted to 10% of them, it’s still 10,000.
So at the most conservative guess ever, and with no travel effort required on my part, I have 10,000 potential partners waiting to meet me. I couldn’t possibly meet them all in one lifetime either, as new ones will keep entering the range I’m interested in.
So essentially, I have an endless supply of potential mates.
And there’s one other crucial piece of information: Do you know what the best predictor is of future behaviour?
After rigorous scientific research, training, study, and working with offenders for over 5 years, I can tell you without doubt that it is this:
Question #5: Why did you guys break up in the first place?
I’m willing to bet that it had something to do with their behaviour, yours, or both. This means that the reason you broke up with your ex, is the most likely thing to happen again. In fact statistically, unless you both have undergone serious coaching/counselling/personality re-booting of some kind, it is HIGHLY likely to repeat.
So the final question is this:
If there are more potential partners available to you that you could ever hope to meet in one lifetime, and it is proven beyond much doubt that you and your ex do not work well together in a relationship,
WHY WOULD YOU GO BACK THERE?
Actually it’s relatively straightforward for most people. It’s about having a mentality of scarcity. You feel like there are limited resources available to you in the world and you should take whatever you can get. This often comes from some sort of deprivation you’ve learned during your formative years. Maybe you felt one or both of your caregivers did not pay you enough attention. Or you grew up poor. Or you were told to make the most of what you’ve got – “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and all that sort of stuff.
Or maybe it’s just that finding a new partner seems so hard so you’ve assumed it’s actually impossible.
One hallmark of true inner confidence is to live by a philosophy of abundance; the idea that not only is there plenty of resources out there for you, there’s actually so much that you couldn’t use it all up if you tried. A confident person, in my opinion, would never even bother trying to maintain a friendship with an ex. That relationship is finished and now it’s time to explore one of the other 10,000 exciting options.
Exercises like this are about opening your eyes to reality rather than fear-based assumptions. Whenever you are about to repeat something that did not work in the past, try imagining all the alternative options out there. Take your time to really analyse this, including legitimate research.
Then ask yourself if you’re going back because it’s a good idea or because you’re afraid.