There I was in a perfectly happy relationship with a great guy. He was exactly the kind of guy everyone assumed I'd end up with, but there was just one little problem – I was struggling to see our future together because my heart was stuck in the past. I had moved on from my ex, but I still wasn't over him.
It's confusing to be in a healthy relationship with a wonderful person yet still feel drawn to your former person. There were little moments that really slapped me in the face, like driving down the road and catching my eyes dart to a certain car to see if it's his (and feeling disappointed when it wasn't). And there were bigger moments that weighed heavy on my heart, like dreaming about him while sleeping next to my boyfriend and waking up feeling guilty for the dream but grateful for the time together.
I felt stuck – unable to move in any direction. Feelings for my ex were holding me back from going deeper in my relationship, and my happy relationship was keeping me from going back to my ex. I spent months in a constant emotional debate – go, stay, go, stay. The only thing I was sure of was that my stalled emotional state wasn't fair to anyone, myself included. I had to make a choice.
I went back to my ex [because of] the tiny voice inside me – inexplicable to everyone else – that said it wasn't over.
We often talk about love like it happens in a silo. We fall out of love with one person then in love with someone else. But it's more complicated than that. There's a quantum physics study that proved once two particles have interacted and affected the spin of each other (AKA entanglement), they can never be untangled. They are forever connected on some level, and no matter how far apart they're separated, the spin of one will always affect the spin of the other.
Perhaps the same concept can be applied to relationships. When we love someone, they affect our spin and maybe always will. And the entanglement that comes with a loving relationship is never truly broken.
I love this concept because it explains why we still think about an ex, wonder how they're doing, and smile when we hear certain songs or pass certain places that remind us of them. It allows us to still care about each other and affect each other without it being a risk to our current relationship. In a way, it's a beautiful acknowledgement to the love that once existed. But how do we tell the difference between a little spin from the past and a current pull at our heart? How do we know when we should continue to move on or when we're meant to circle back?
I believe it comes down to silencing all the noise and getting quiet with ourselves. Putting aside the opinions of family, friends, and society to fully listen to our inner feelings. It can be easy to focus on checking all the boxes we think a happy relationship should check; the ones included in the brief bios we give at parties – age, job, family, dwelling. My boyfriend checked a lot of important boxes — good job, appropriate age, owned a home, close with his family, fun friends, sweet to me, took me on fun dates, made me laugh, etc.
But those aren't the only boxes. There's another deeper set that lives in our hearts. I'd forgotten about those boxes. They had been lying dusty and tattered in the basement of my heart, hidden under negativity, disappointment, and relationships gone wrong. I had lost trust in them, convinced the boxes in my head knew better. But the moment I heard from my ex — he appeared in my texts with messages I'd hoped for years prior — my heart began to raise its hand.
All logic pointed to staying put. My head begged me to see where my current relationship would go; to not give my ex another chance. It reminded me how happy I was and how wonderful my boyfriend was. And it was right. I was happy. He was wonderful. Our head always debates with facts and hard evidence while our heart prefers to deal in hunches and gut feelings. Our head will compile a concrete list of everything that is right, and our heart will simply whisper that it's not.
Ultimately, I went back to my ex for that reason; for the tiny voice inside me – inexplicable to everyone else – that said it wasn't over. I went back despite my fear of getting hurt, my reluctance to be "the bad guy," and my tendency to want to please others. I went back to find the forgotten boxes.
It wasn't easy, and to most people, wasn't logical. But I now understand that we can only follow our heart when we allow it to speak. It's not a loud or obvious voice. Rather, it's a voice often found in life's smallest moments. It's in the comfort I now feel sitting next to my ex-turned-boyfriend again, the ease in which we spend time together, the childlike play we bring out in each other, and the growth we find in every disagreement. Those are the boxes my heart wanted checked.
Maybe it's true that we'll forever be connected to our past loves. Maybe they'll always affect our spin. But when we find ourselves in a head vs. heart battle, I know one thing for sure – our head will only stop spinning when we learn to hear our heart.