Expert Advice: On-Again, Hopefully Just Off
Hello My Friends! It’s been a while since we’ve done a proper advice column, but we had a new question come in!
“Hi RB. So there’s this guy at work who I’ve been dating on and off for some time. We both know this isn’t going to work long term, but every time we cut it off, we somehow manage to end up back together. We have great chemistry, but our goals just don’t align. What should I do?”
First of all, thanks for the submission! There’s definitely a lot of moving parts here. Let’s identify those first.
- Someone at work
- On and off again
So in my personal opinion, it’s almost never a good idea to date someone at work, especially someone you come into frequent contact with professionally. I find it’s always helpful to think of a worst case scenario, and in this case that worst case is that you have a blow-up break-up, and the professional relationship is irreparably ruined. That’s a really bad worst case scenario. Now this isn’t going to apply if the individual is someone in a different department, or you don’t have mutual work friends with, it should be fine.
Secondly, the “on-again-off-again” phrase, is always a bad sign. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions to the rule, but for the most point, this is a bad idea. A personal example of an exception is when me and my now husband starting dating, I had significant commitment issues due to coming out of a series of bad relationships. Therefore the most logical thing for me to do of course (heavy sarcasm here), was to break up before anything got too serious. After some extra consideration, I realized this was a bad choice and I was just running away from my emotions, and we got back together. Fun fact: 1 month later, he proposed.
Now this might bring up the question, why was it ok to get back together? A few things, but most importantly, tying into point 3 we had really great chemistry, professionally, spiritually, personally and every other -ally you can think of. Our long term and short term goals aligned, but I think just as importantly, we had our own interests and had a balanced amount of differences. I would argue this is just as important as the similarities because personally, I don’t want to date myself. It’s important to have different perspectives in life.
In relation to the aforementioned, I once read a fantastic quote: “If you break up, and get back together again, you should both be treating this as a completely new relationship”, and I find myself heartily agreeing. For the most part, when people break up, it’s not on a whim, but because deep down, they know something is wrong. One of those few times the fast emotional response is the correct one. If we give ourselves time, we tend to try to rationalize out any real problems, and convince ourselves we over-reacted (you probably didn’t). If you decide to get back together you’ve decided 1 of 2 things: Either those issues are no longer present or you’ve grown as a person and those issues will no longer bother you. If neither of these apply, or you’re saying any of the following: “If you love someone, you can ignore small problems like that!” or “They’ll change as they get older, this won’t always be a problem,” then I respond with a NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. Bail hard and keep yourself from talking to this person at all because you’ll likely make a stupid decision. Now that’s a lot about point 2, so let’s move on to point 3. Before I end this, please read our article about the importance of the “Flag System“, and use it to help you rationalize why to not get back together.
Chemistry. It’s a completely illogical force, and usually a force of nature to be reckoned with. There’s not much to say on this other than yes, physical chemistry is important. But that’s really your brain just telling you the other person has bacteria and anti-bodies that you need (pheromones). I know not everyone can do this, but I’ve trained myself to not pay attention to physical appearance at all, because at the end of the day it really has 0 impact except on maybe how much sex you initially have. What you really want to focus on are emotional and mental chemistry. Do you feel emotionally supported? Do you feel better after talking about how your day went with each other? Do you smile and laugh more than usual with this person? Do you feel your conversations are invigorating? Do you feel this person pushes you to be the best version of yourself, intellectually and morally? As general advice, if you answered no to any of the above questions, there needs to be re-evaluation on what’s important to you in a relationship and are you happy? But once you feel you’re emotionally and mentally connected, the physical stuff doesn’t matter. Case in point with a lot of military: See the 1 million stories of a soldier who’s barely alive after countless hours of plastic surgery after a bomb went off, and comes home to have 9 children with spouse. Physical chemistry will always follow after the more important stuff, so don’t worry about that or try to force it.
Hopefully this helps our writer and our other readers as well! If you have a question you’d like to submit, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please don’t forget to comment below!