They Say He’ll Always Come Back…

So I thought I would take an interlude from writing about money all the time (because you know, reading about credit scores or investing gets a bit tiresome after a while probably, even though this is a personal finance blog) to write about the drama that is my love life.

As some of you longtime, dedicated, awesome readers know, I recently got dumped by my long term love of 7.5 years, the one I thought was “the one”, the one I was waiting for to get engaged to.   It has been about three and a half months since this whole ordeal happened.  The past three and a half months have probably been the most gut wrenching few months I have had.  So much change.  The house sold (which will probably be a later post, don’t worry), I started dating and met someone who I have been dating for two months (yes, don’t get me started on the rebound notion), and … never would I thought, because he seemed so SURE that he didn’t want me anymore…just recently, the ex contacted me and said he missed me and wanted to see me again and said he realized he made a big mistake.  It seems like the ex has done a lot of learning about who he is, what he wants, and how he was dropping the ball in the relationship.  He says he realized that he would rather be poor and happy with someone he loves than unhappy and wealthy with no one to spend his time with.  But can someone really change in the span of three months?

I have to preface this with the fact that my ex and I have been on and off sometimes throughout our 7.5 year relationship but this time it was the most serious and this time was the only time I didn’t go running back to chase him.  I also have to preface it with the fact that I have known my ex since I was 15 and we dated briefly in high school and always thought he was the one.

When I first started dating the new guy I had a TON of doubts.  I was comparing him incessantly to the ex (I know, classic sign of a rebound relationship).  And although I thought I had done a lot of work (forgiving the ex for deciding that I wasn’t the one for him, reading books like Rebuilding After your Relationship Ends and wallowing in my own self pity) I think I was still doubting this new relationship to the point that I was picking apart this new guy.  In my head I was critical and thinking that he didn’t smell nice like my ex did, I wasn’t attracted to him like my ex, and he wasn’t fun like my ex was.  However, this new guy is very calm (which is something my ex and I weren’t- we were both impulsive and had a bit of difficulty controlling our emotions which led to some intense arguments) and isn’t emotionally unavailable like my ex was at times.  He seems to really like me for who I am.  There is one caveat which probably isn’t a big deal at all but he seems more frugal than me.

So, like I always do here on this blog, I made a pros and cons list of these two guys.  Well, just a pros list to compare I suppose.

The Ex

  • Fun
  • Comfortable (our relationship was similar to the “This is 40″ relationship where we could talk and laugh and have witty banter nonstop)
  • Makes me laugh
  • Caring (when he’s not emotionally disengaged)
  • Similar interests
  • Generous (this is a big one for me… )
  • Wasn’t sure but is now sure (not sure if this is more a CON instead of a PRO!)
  • Familiar/ Time
  • Hedonistic (would rather enjoy life than save up and scrooge)
  • Smells good (haha)
  • I am very attracted to him
  • He is very attracted to me
  • Parents are not divoriced
  • He knows everything about me and I can trust him (but at the same time, not really since he broke my heart)

The New Guy

  • Responsible
  • Caring
  • Calm
  • Intelligent
  • Leader
  • Thoughtful
  • Seems to like me for my intellect and who I am
  • Seems to think we have a good connection
  • Willing to compromise
  • Good with money

Readers, what do you think?  I know that it really boils down to what I want and what my own core values are… I know that with my ex I will have to compromise and work on it and I know that with the new guy, he takes me for who I am and I won’t have to do much “work”… but maybe I like doing the work?  Maybe it is a goal in my life to be self reflective?

The differences in these two is especially evident when I talk to them about my 13 year old car.  New guy says run it to the ground and thinks its not a wise decision to buy a new car.  Ex says he’ll help me look around for a good deal on a new car and says I should treat myself (we made a bit of $ on the house)… and I think… yes, I want a new car that is an SUV or a hatchback so I can carry my bike in it or other things in it if need be!

Readers, I need your help

  Stability and security or passion and fun times?  What would you do?


Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

43 Responses to They Say He’ll Always Come Back…

  1. It seems like your heart is still attached to your ex.. and if he’s willing to try to change and realizes how stupid he was – then maybe it’s meant to be? Follow your heart and your gut, and good luck to you in making the right decision.

  2. It’s really hard to look at someone else’s pro/con list and offer meaningful feedback. What’s important to me in a guy may not be important to you.

    Having said that, one thing that jumped out at me on the “ex” list was:
    “Hedonistic (would rather enjoy life than save up and scrooge)”

    That seems really at odds with someone who runs a personal finance blog, and, presumably, practices what she preaches.

    To me, that’s a big enough deal to give me pause, and while I don’t know the details of the dynamics of your guys’ relationship w.r.t. money, I can say that financial philosophy compatibility can be one of those “make or break” deals in a relationship. Ranks right up there with kids. It’s really important.

    Also, from an outsider’s perspective, your ex list seems to be mostly based on the heart (fun, familiar, comfortable, smell, attraction…), and not the head. It’s the opposite with the new guy list. And I think your picture sums up the head vs. heart conflict quite nicely 😉

    Another thing that jumped out at me is that you list “wiling to compromise” on the new guy’s list, but in the paragraph underneath that, you say you’ll have to compromise with your ex. Compromise is a two-way street. Likely you’ll have to compromise with the new guy, too, but if he’s willing to, as well, it’s easier to strike a balanced middle ground. Why should you be the sole one doing the compromising, with your ex?

  3. I don’t know if you want kids, but think about which guy would make a better father. How does each of them treat their mom, both to her face and behind her back? How does he treat your mom?

    Those aren’t crystal balls but they are good long-term indicators of the person he is at his core.

    And if I were you, I’d go with new guy or different new guy – not the ex.

  4. Neither! Spend the time figuring out who you are and what you want, and when the right fish swims into your end of the lake you’ll just know and it will be easy. You’ll both be in the same place in life with who you are and what you want, and you won’t feel you have to compromise or become someone you are not. It sounds like you’re not into the new guy enough for this to go the distance (but you never know), but the on/off/on and emotional disengagement is not exactly a winning strategy (and heck you got to the point of selling your house in the breakup – that’s a serious ‘off’).

    IMO Vancouver has so many awesome single women in it, and not enough men worthy of these ladies, but keep the faith and work on you for a moment.

  5. Haha! I think it is hilarious that you posted this! Of course it is totally up to you, but you’re not choosing between two guys. You’re saying yes or no to one and yes or no to the other. And you could say no to both! I’ve been through what it sounds like you’re going through and I can tell you if it took 7 years of on and off for guy #1 to say he’s ready, run away. You deserve someone who is so committed that you’ll never have to wonder if he’s in it for the long haul. I made the mistake of going back to my guy #1 and he bailed a month before our wedding date. Guy #2 sounds like he might help get your mind off things, but you don’t really seem into him. Maybe there’s someone else completely out there for you! I ended up marrying a guy I had know for years and never thought of dating, but we’ve been fabulously married for 3 years – no on and off, no commitment questions. We’re very attracted to each other and he smells good too (It seems weird, but it totally matters!), and I’m SO glad I didn’t marry my guy #1. Obviously you have no reason to take advice form a stranger, but hey, you asked :)

  6. I drive a hatchback. It’s good on gas and has enough room to meet my needs for now. Timely post for Valentines day 😀 You must be quite a catch to have two guys going after you. Reminds me of that movie where there’s 2 handsome fellows. One is calm, thoughtful and collected, while the other one is fun, flashy, and enjoys to party and spend money. And they’re both trying to win the heart of the same girl played by Reese Witherspoon. I imagine you’re in a similar position as her with the stress of make your decision. At least it’s not a bad problem to have :0) At the end of that movie she did manage to choose one guy over the other, but in real life things can be more complicated. People can always change over time so the most compatible person for you today may not be 10 years from now, so I think it comes down to who cares about you more and is willing to work harder on the relationship to make it work no matter happens in the future ^_^

  7. As much as I want to give advice I can’t! This is a qualitative not quantitative decision. (Practically speaking my guy is a terrible choice. But hey, love. And at least he IS generous, affectionate and incredibly caring.). What does your gut say?!

    • @eemusings- My gut is not responding, only my brain lol! That’s why it was cathartic to write this post because your responses are all illiciting my gut feelings.

  8. It sounds like neither is the right guy, at least right now. In general, I have never seen an on and off relationship work out in the end.
    I knew it was for the long term when I no longer had doubts looking at our future. I might wonder about the details of how things will be worked out, but I don’t wonder whether or not things will be worked out.

    • @Koala- Great advice ” I might wonder about the details of how things will be worked out, but I don’t wonder whether or not things will be worked out.” I also learned that nothing in life is ever a guarantee… so perhaps a laissez faire approach is indicated?

  9. I don’t think that we can really pick for you. One of the best pieces of relationship advice my mom gave me was that it’s never an either or choice, but two separate choices: 1) New guy or no one, 2) Ex or no one.

    As someone who has broken up with someone and gone for the cute guy waiting on the sidelines, it’s fun while it lasts, but it might not last either. I’ve also been in the on and off again relationships. The guy always keeps coming back, trying to keep you hooked. It’s possible that you’re both great people, that you both really love each other, BUT you’re just not a good fit for each other.

    One thing on rebounds – I always tended to look for someone who was the exact opposite of my ex. And of course, that never worked out either.

    Do you want to marry your ex? Personally, I wouldn’t get back together with him unless his way of asking you to get back together was showing up with engagement ring to show his commitment to making things work.

    Being single is amazing. Trust me. I spent all of my last year of high school and college in and out of relationships and I’ve spent good chunks since college single and it’s so amazing to just be able to concentrate on myself and my career and keeping fit! It reinforces how awesome every single one of my friends are too.

    On the car – don’t buy a SUV! I have a hatchback and it is surprisingly versatile for carrying stuff. I fit a friend’s bike into it without taking any of the wheels off by folding the back seats down.

    Good luck, Young! You can always email me to talk about boys 😉

  10. Oh boy that’s a tough call. I’d say go with your gut, but also remember the pain and try to decide if you’ll be able to live with the ex and not continuously think about how much he hurt you. If every time you argue this comes to mind (or you throw it in his face, I know I’d have a hard time not) it might be time to find somebody new.

    • @KK- You’re right. The trust is completely gone because of what he did to me (I shouldn’t play the victim card by saying that) but the other day was going through the house and I just thought.. wow.. my hopes and dreams really were completely shattered. In the span of 1 month.

  11. It’s really too soon to decide on either one of them. With guy #1 it’s a matter of familiarity and the known. Maybe he hopes to have his cake and eat in a rebound relationship without final commitment. With guy # 2 it’s still too soon to tell. You haven’t really seen him on one of his “bad days” to get a better perspective of what he’s really like beneath his “calm” exterior.

    My advice: give yourself some more time with both of them (say maybe 6 months) and don’t limit yourself but also date others – play the field a bit more because, after all, you basically took yourself out of the dating scene for the past 7+ years with these 2 guys. Don’t rush yourself into choosing.

  12. I’d focus on why you’d want to return with the old boyfriend first. You can’t make a decision between the two men, considering your emotional involvement is not the same. You’re comparing apples with oranges.

    You put down the pros, but what are the cons of going back with the old boyfriend? Have the reasons for the breakup changed in three months? Did he change his mind about marriage? Or are you willing to forget about it? (Do you want to have the situation repeat itself five years when you want to start having kids?) I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to be married after buying a house together and sharing a household, totalling seven years together. If it’s important to you, don’t settle because he’s familiar. With the little info you gave us, I’d be suspicous the reason boyfriend wants to come back, it’s because he’s singing Neil Young’s “a man needs a maid” song in his head. He liked the trappings of a live-in relationship without the commitment and after three months, he’s had enough. If he’s not willing to get married even though he wants you back, you really need to know if it’s because he’s leaving his options open.

    Can you tell I’ve been there before?

  13. I would go back and read your last post about your relationship with your ex. There was a reason why you didn’t chase him back this time, and they appeared to me, from a distance, to be pretty good reasons.

    You can both be in love and still have a relationship that does not work. Only you can work out what fits for you though.

    Here are my thoughts though:

    * Differing values when it comes to money. *

    You’ve learnt not to be so frugal in a relationship, but he also appears to be a spendthrift at heart. Over time and with more pressure and financial/societal obligations, will one or both of you revert back to your natural tendencies – for which you are the one picking up the slack and laying on the mothering pressure?

    * Being his mother, overcompensating in the relationship, and being half rather than whole. *

    These points, even more than his wavering commitment to you, are what troubles me the most. It does not have to be like this, but this is what both of you are like together on a day-to-day basis. This is the dynamic that both of you bring to the table and create for each other. It’s more difficult to change this dynamic than his renewed commitment to you over time.

    I know you wrote that last post following your breakup and perhaps, you do not mind being the parental figure, the responsible one, the clean-up crew. Is this what you want over the rest of your life though?

    I don’t want to make this about power, but it’s pretty obvious in your posts that the power has almost always been in his hands. You’ve chased him after each break-up. You felt the pressure to please him, and do more for him. You’ve always thought of him as “the one” – where it seems clear that he has not. You weren’t secure in this relationship and you’ve always been the one to overcompensate for that. If you get back together, over time – even with a ring on your finger – I really don’t see why this or your dynamic would change.

    He is perhaps one who elicits mothering – and you may have tendencies to mother, but do you actually want to do that to the extent he pushes you to?

    * Commitment *

    Obviously, this is an important factor and I’m sure you saw this coming. After all this time, and all he’s been through with you, why isn’t it obvious that you are the one. I’m sure he’s calling because he misses you – as anyone with a long time companion would. Is he also calling you because he’s lonely? Because no one will give him the same support and love as you do (or at least, no one he could find in the last three months)? Why should he have any doubts at all – especially after all this time? You didn’t.

    At seven years in, he knows all that he needs to know to make a commitment decision. There really is nothing else you can provide/change/do/act/look that could materially change you. He should know it all by now, so why the doubts? Super motivated boyfriends can want to finish their goals before settling down, but they can also recognize a good thing and “put a ring on it” if need be. Do you think a supermotivated person would really let “the one” go, just because they hadn’t accomplished their goals yet? They may not fully want it at that moment, and wished it was later – but when push comes to shove, even a high achiever would not let something too good to be true slip away – even if it wasn’t at the top of their priorities at that moment.

    As for the new guy – I’m not even going to comment on that. It’s way too early to be making an apples and apples case. It may work. It may not. Take your time to decide whether your ex is right for you. You owe it to yourself and him to do that.

    If the ex is not “the one” anymore, take your time to get to the know the new guy (or the next new guy), but I bet if you get through this, it won’t take much time. You’ll continue to have a better sense of yourself and what you need. When the right new guy comes, you’ll recognize it and won’t need to make such lists.

    By the way, you might want to consider that your frugal new guy reads this blog (or has friends that do). This city isn’t that big.

  14. Hi Young!

    First of all, chin up, and kudos to you for being able to write this out, and rationalize it, somehow. It’s not easy, I’m sure, but I hope it helps.

    I completely missed your previous post in December 2012, so I wasn’t sure what was going on in your personal, and of course, didn’t want to pry (though, I was nosy, as heck). After reading your previous post, it seems that we were both in similar situations with similar relationship dynamics and circumstances.

    Even though, my break-up happened sometime ago (circa 2005/2006), it was a similar situation. I was dating my high school sweetheart and first love, and we’d been together for 4.5 years. He had many of the pro’s on your list (likes to enjoy his money, great chemistry, he “knew” me, very attractive, made me laugh, also smelled good (I realize it’s the laundry detergent his mom used, but still)… and did I mention that we had been together for 4.5 years? That seemed like a lifetime when I was in college. Like you, I also “mothered” him, I was a half instead of a whole, I spent so much of my energy pleasing him and “us” that I ultimately neglected myself.

    Then, one day, he dropped the bomb, and that was it. We were over.

    The drama which followed for about 6 months was probably worse than the break-up itself, until I came to my senses and gave an ultimatum – to commit fully or get out of my life. It made me see a completely different side of him that I never knew, and didn’t want to know. But it also made me see a completely different side of myself, whom I had neglected, but wanted to nurture.

    It took me about 2 years of being single to get to know myself again, with the support of my friends. And when I finally met my BF now, I think I was ready. I knew that if this was to work, he had to know the real me, right from the start. The me that I worked 2 years to find, after 4.5 years of neglecting.

    Sorry for rambling on about my own past, but I guess what I wanted to tell is that (as many other commenters have pointed out), you don’t have to choose between your ex and this new guy, or any other new guy. There will always be some comparison to any guy you date to your first love, but you deserve someone who will make you happy … for the rest of your life.

    Can you work out the issues with your ex, or are they so deeply ingrained, that you both may have to just accept it? And, do you want to accept it? Don’t be scared of letting go of your ex. From what I know of you (from reading your blog for the past few years), is that you are a very strong and smart woman. You deserve someone who can stand up to you, while respecting you, and making you laugh. Don’t settle. Whether it be for a some history, or otherwise. Trust me.

    I’m sending virtual hugs your way, and if you ever come to Toronto, I can introduce you to some of my single, engineering friends, who are adventurous (some of us have traveled together), funny, albeit a bit nerdy. Just say the word. 😉

  15. Some of the worst relationships I have seen were from people who started dating very young and never let the other person grow. They always assumed that their boyfriend or girlfriend was going to act in a manner similar to when they met, as a young teenager. It sounds like that was part of the “passion” drama going on with your ex. You need a clean slate.

    If you met your ex for the first time today, I don’t think you’d hit it off. Your past experiences together is what provides your compatibility, conversationally. When your list of positives for him has to include mostly stuff related to your history, a ton of caveats, and topics that aren’t even related to him, you know you’re trying to justify to yourself why it’s okay to relapse.

    (Side note: You’re pulling as a bonus that his parents are married? That has nothing to do with him. He didn’t want to marry for the past few years, and he has been unfaithful in his commitment to you. It’s like saying its a bonus that his dad is an ice cream man, but the ex is lactose intolerant and hates ice cream. You’re never getting any ice cream in the house.)

    • @Kyla- Re: married parents- I should find the statistic but am too lazy, but learned in my family studies course at university that children with divorced parents (aka me) are more likely to be divorced themselves :)

  16. I think this is the best gift your ex could ever give back to you! You know they always say make sure you look hot so that your ex comes begging for you to go back to him.

    This is a real opportunity to nip any doubts in your mind in the butt! You’re either with your ex, then it would need to be a serious commitment on his and your part. (Marriage, but also you need to put the hurt behind you). If you choose not to be with him, you can be confident that you were too smart for him and he didn’t realise what a great catch he lost.

    I say play the field. I’m sure you and your ex of 7.5 years won’t be too far away from each other. Live life for yourself for a bit, and if it was meant to be, I’m sure the two of you will come back for the right reasons.

  17. Sometimes, it is really hard to forget the past and the people in the past. But we have to realize when to still hope and when to let go and move on. Life is too short to live on regrets.

  18. I think you need to take time away from the ex for sure.. decide on what kind of relationship you want with the new guy if any.. and take lots of time to reset, enjoy yourself and things that being single allow you to enjoy..

    Then you will be open in many ways for passion and fun times with a stable and secure guy..

  19. Oooh, we get to play relationship advice too!

    Go with your gut… that’s the easy way out. It’s what you say when you don’t know what to say. So doing it is just dumb.

    The consensus is, it’s not an either or choice. Good consensus.

    #1 guy, on/off, run the other way, will never be there for long term.

    #2, gave you what you needed to get your mind off #1, figured it out, and is no more.

    #3, there’s probably a guy in your life already you haven’t considered dating who would be great. Probably smells good too.

    #4 600,000+ people in Vancouver. Enough said.

  20. Can I just say how impressed I am with the quality of the responses I am seeing! Such thoughtful, respectful, and wise people sharing here. Sprinkles hope on humanity for sure! Quite heartwarming.

    “Young”, there is love all around you.

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