Dear Harlan: How many times is too many times to go back to my ex? I’ve been in a relationship for two years, and we’ve broken up four times. Each time it ends in a big fight. Then, three weeks later we get back together. I love him and want to be with him forever, but we have this bad pattern. He wants to get back together again. I’m scared it’s going to end the same way. I’m tired of getting hurt. How can I do this again when I know what always happens?
Dear Broken: It’s called a “fakeup,” not a breakup. A breakup ends a relationship for more than a few weeks. A fakeup just ends it until you get the frustration out of your system or get lonely and get back together. First, make sure there isn’t any violence or emotional abuse. Breaking up and getting back together is one method abusers will use to control partners. They blow up, break up and apologize. Next, figure out why running away from the truth has become easier than facing it. Why can’t either of you deal with conflict? What’s the real problem? That’s where you both need to do some work. For this to change, you both need to want this to change. This is where you can talk to a couples counselor or spiritual leader to guide you. The breakup is serving a purpose. Figure out the purpose. Then you can fix the problem before you run away and break up again.