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Sex with Dr. Jess


March 30, 2023

The One That Got Away. Should You Get Back With An Ex?

Jess recently joined Jeff & Carolyn on Global TV’s The Morning Show to discuss The One That Got Away, a reality program that allows daters to explore missed connections from their pasts.

Check out the Q&A notes and video below.

Q: What do you think of these “reality” shows that encourage people to make quick decisions on finding partners or so-called soulmates?

Jess: All of these shows like The Ultimatum, Love Is Blind and The One That Got Away seem to romanticize finding the ONE and there is a pressure to settle into a long term relationship — at a fairly young age.

The Ultimatum was a hot mess. They didn’t even acknowledge that they were practicing some version of consensual non-monogamy and they failed to tap into the best practices like voluminous communication and check-ins throughout the whole process.

Love Is Blind is also just full of red flags and an obsession with marriage as the ultimate goal with seemingly little regard for the quality of connections.

So far, I’d say The One That Got Away has more potential, but I still think it’s going to devolve into a dating free-for-all that (in the absence of honest, meaningful conversations) makes real connections harder to come by.

Q: Do you think that the pandemic and associated isolation encouraged people to look to the past for connections?

Jess: Early in the pandemic, we saw data that a quarter of us had texted an ex while stuck at home. We were told to check in on each other, after all.

SO many of us have been searching for meaning, security, predictability and we often perceive exes to offer just that.

Our desire for human connection didn’t dissipate just because we were isolated — in many cases in increased, but we didn’t have the same opportunities to meet new people. And that’s where exes came in.

Q: Does social media also keep us fixated on the past?

Jess: Absolutely. Familiarity can breed attraction and connection. And many of us are doing more than scrolling, we’re liking, commenting, DM-ing, and screen-grabbing.

Some experts say you must unfollow an ex. But it really depends on the relationship.

Just because the romantic portion has ended doesn’t mean a friendship cannot be sustained, so it depends on how you’re feeling.

If following makes you pine for them, or it makes you jealous or angry, you might want to limit how often you check in on their feed.

Q: What are the costs of getting hung up on the one that got away?

Jess: It’s hard to focus on the present when you’re caught in the past.And our perceptions of the past aren’t realistic.

The psychological phenomenon of rosy retrospection means that we tend to idealize the past and judge it more favourably than we judge the present.

It’s a common cognitive bias and it’s a common reason we get hung up on the one that got away — even if we barely knew them.

Q: So is it ever advisable to get back with an ex?

Jess: There are no universal rules.

If you’re focused on how you’ve changed as opposed to on how they’ve changed (and they have a similar approach), that’s a good start.

If you’re both willing to take responsibility for your role in the relationship dissolution, you may be able to rebuild.

If you accept that some issues can’t be solved and that you’ll have to accept some perpetual differences, that might also be a good sign — for all relationships – not just with an ex.

Q: What are some signs that you should NOT get back together with an ex?

Jess: If it’s about ego or performance — showing others that you can make it work or assuaging your own guilt about the breakup — these are not great foundations for a relationship.

One way to gauge whether or not it’s a good idea involves asking your closest friends and family. They’ll remember what the relationship was like with less rosy retrospection if they were supporting you through the ups and downs. So ask them not only what they think, but also ask them what YOU were like in that relationship — were you a version of yourself that you want to be again?