together again

Reader O.R. writes:

My boyfriend and I had a really bad breakup about two months ago. I confess: I was really upset and talked a lot of smack about him at the time, so now all my friends really hate him. The problem is, we got back together last week. What can I do to mitigate the hate?

Dear O.R.:

Now THERE’S a corner to be painted into. If I could go back in time, I’d have written a post for you that says “DON’T TALK SMACK ABOUT SOMEONE YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING TO GET BACK TOGETHER WITH.” But it’s a bit late for that. And I don’t think it would have helped much anyway.

Oh no she didn't

Oh no she didn't. Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some of our finest lovers are also the causes of our biggest, most heated arguments. That’s passion for you! It swings several ways — sexy, angry, happy, sad. If you’d broken up because it was mutual or one of you was moving away or something totally civil like that, you wouldn’t have fought in the first place. This was a break up of passion, and your reaction to it was equally passionate.

Your friends have probably seen you do something similar in the past. In fact, you may have done this very thing with this very same boyfriend before. Perhaps you two have been fighting your whole relationship and your friends are completely used to it. One thing about your current relationship that you may want to consider is the possibility that you’ll break up again.

One of the deals with having a boyfriend you fight with is that your friends probably started to dislike him before you actually broke up. And when you did break up with him, they probably got a big ol’ sigh of relief being able to say that they never liked him in the first place. But now that you’re back together with him, their truth-telling antics from last week are going to make them really, really uncomfortable. They can’t take back the crap they said about him, just like you can’t.

On that note, I’ll start into the options I think you have:

Keep the relationship a secret for a while. That’s probably what you’re going to do anyway. It’s what I’ve seen every girlfriend I have do when she broke up with a guy and got back together with him. It’s hard to swallow your pride and tell your friends you’re once again dating that asshole they all want to kill now. So until you guys have been together and stable for a few months, you should probably keep it under your hat. And as I was mentioning above, there’s a good chance you guys are going to fight and break up again. (Which is what I’ve also seen happen to every girlfriend who has gotten back together with a guy she had a horrible break up with.) If you’re not careful, your friends will start thinking of you like the boy who cried wolf, and then when you and this guy really break up (if you do — I mean, I can’t be 100% pessimistic… look what happened to Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big, two totally real-to-life characters out of a non-fantasy universe), you won’t have your friends’ shoulders to cry on.

Level with your buddies. They’re probably not stupid and they’ll figure out about the relationship soon anyway. Just tell them you know you said some bad stuff about the man, but you’re back with him. They may be so done with him that they’ll refuse to hang out with the two of you, in which case you’re probably about 85% more likely to split up again. Or they may be willing to give him another chance, just like you have. I like to think clear, direct communication is the best route in these matters, but they may just be clear and direct back in telling you that they hate how you are with him, they hate what he’s done to you, and they don’t want to watch you go through it again.

Try to do things that highlight how good this BF is. If he is really worth being with, his good qualities will show through and those bad qualities you were trash talking will fade into the distance. But you can bring these nice things about him to the forefront by doing what you did with the bad stuff: talk about it. “Oh, he was so good, he did X today.” Even if it’s something small, like, “didn’t leave his socks under the coffee table”, bring it up. It’ll help you remember his good qualities and focus on the positive, and eventually your friends will catch on.

Keep the hate-o-meter under control the next time you break up/fight. Not that it’s absolutely going to happen, but if you do break up a second (or third or fourth) time, watch how much of the vitriol you spread around. We all like to complain about our significant others, whether we’re broken up or not. But your friends love you and want to take care of you (if they’re real friends), and if you’ve got serious issues with a BF, they’re probably going to be happier with you if you don’t stay with the guy. And that’s a major consideration: if all the stuff you said about him during the breakup was true, do you really want to be with him?

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