Rowdy After Dark: When Your Former Flame Comes Back
“I’ve started casually talking to the boy that broke my heart at the beginning of the year again."
(Sophia Sanders / Rowdy Magazine Graphic Designer)
Rowdy After Dark is an unfiltered, inclusive and sex-positive column by and for college students. Do you have a burning sex or relationship question you’d like answered? Send it to us here*.
*Questions may be anonymous
What is it about the summer which gives exes the green light to be back on their bullshit?
Maybe it’s the debaucherous dreaminess of it all — the feeling that summer exists separately from Real Life and that the feverish decisions we make in this sunny season will melt away come fall. Perhaps the added isolation of the pandemic has heightened this already rampant occurrence, but either way, it’s all fun and games until someone’s feelings are on the line.
Here’s a reader-submitted q about what happens when your former flame comes back:
* “I’ve started casually talking to the boy that broke my heart at the beginning of the year again. Sometimes, it feels like he’s into me again. Like, he’ll ask if I’m back in town and stuff, and it brings my hopes up. But then he’ll post pictures with other girls leaving me confused, once again. How should I go about this without being too blunt with him about my feelings?”
*[Editor's note: this question has been edited for clarity]
It's easy to fall back into a familiar pattern with someone who feels comfortable to you — I know this well. Sometimes, it’s even especially enticing to try and reclaim some of the power you might have lost in the breakup to potentially preserve a little bit of your ego if you think you can change things the second time around (or third, or fourth....).
While it’s possible and fun to have a noncommittal fling with an ex, you have to be honest with yourself about what you want out of the rekindled relationship — and more so, what you can handle. Is it a commitment you’re looking for? A fuck buddy? Someone you can casually date?
It sounds a bit like you’re hoping things will work out again between you and him, in a more serious way than what you’re doing now. With that in mind, this changes how you have to interact with him moving forward. I know you don’t want to ask him straight up what the deal is, but there are ways you can get some insight into his motives in order to protect your heart this time around.
I don’t know the context of how he broke your heart but think about the warning signs that led up to that, and look for any patterns between then and now. If he’s still doing the same things he was then, there’s a good chance you might find yourself disappointed once again.
For example, take note of when he’s hitting you up and what those conversations look like. If he never sends you a message in the daytime, it’s probably not because he’s incredibly busy until sundown. He’s a college boy in lockdown, not a vampire, after all. Is he asking you if you’re back in town because he genuinely misses hanging out with you, or because he’s hoping you’re DTF?
Perhaps this Tweet said it best:
You should also pay attention to who tends to message first. If it’s always you, I would ghost him for a little bit. See if he notices your absence and reaches out himself.
If all of these signs check out for the best, I’d still recommend that you don’t put all of your eggs into this one basket — by that, I mean, don’t stop yourself from exploring other opportunities because you’re waiting around for him to be ready to commit to you. It sounds like he’s entertaining options of his own, if only by way of Instagram posts, so you should feel free to match his energy.
And finally, when someone tells you who they are or what they’re interested in, believe them. If he made it clear that he’s not looking for a relationship again, you shouldn’t have to try to change his mind. It’s exhausting work, it’s often fruitless, and you deserve better than that.
Good luck, reader, and thanks for writing in.
Morgan is an online writer at Rowdy Magazine and a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies student at UF. You can usually find her at a local coffee shop, petting her latest foster cat or on social media @morgangoldwich.