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We’re all terrible at evaluating our ex’s overall attraction objectively. We usually plop them up on a pedestal, praise their personality as if it was the second coming of Jesus, deem our emotional connection incomparable, and crown them as hotter, smarter, funnier, and more special than they really are.
We do this because of perceptual and cognitive biases. Think of them as psychological distortions that bend reality and misshape our perception of our ex and our relationship with them. Some people are more afflicted by them; other people less. Yet no one is immune to them.
But through expanding our conscious awareness, we can help ourselves notice these biases faster and prevent them from twirling us into turmoil where we have a higher chance of sabotaging our re-attraction efforts and ending up miserable.
So here are 15 biases that make you overestimate and overvalue your ex’s overall attraction.
1. Experience Bias. The fewer relationships and dating/sexual experiences you had, the more you’ll overestimate your ex’s attractiveness. So if you only had one serious relationship prior to your ex, or say, you only dated a handful of people, your ex will undoubtedly seem much more enticing than if you had multiple serious relationships behind you or platitudes of dating success. This bias is also why “first loves” tend to hurt so much. You never had a relationship before, or at least not one with such an intense emotional connection as the one you lost. No wonder you’re tossing and turning in your sleep now.
2. Scarcity Bias. Similar to the experience bias, the idea here is that the fewer dating options you currently have, the more you’ll overestimate your ex’s attractiveness. So if you’re hooking up with 3-4 people every week, your ex will seem much less special than if all you had was Pornhub.
3. Mystery Bias. The mystery bias occurs when you don’t know much about your ex’s current affairs — you don’t know what they’re doing, who they’re out with, whether or not they developed any new interests, achieved any of their goals, changed their career, etc. The greater the mystery shrouding them, the more you’ll try to fill in the gaps of unknowns with your own idealizations of who they are and where they’re taking their life. And the harder you try to pull this off, and the longer you’re doing it, the more you’ll overestimate your ex’s attractiveness.
4. Barriers Bias. This bias epitomizes the saying, “what is hard to get always appears more valuable.” It’s when there are many barriers you have to push through and overcome to get your ex to like you again, go out with you, and ultimately, get back together with you. The more such barriers exist, the further your attraction and overestimations for them increase.
5. Personality Bias. Arguably a good bias, it occurs when your ex has a similar personality to yours — or a complimentary one at the least. For example, if you’re both introverted and avid readers, you’ll think of them as much more attractive than if they were, say, an extroverted and outgoing party-hound.
6. Reciprocal Bias. The idea is that if your ex reciprocates your advances (i.e., put their hand on you when you brush their leg, kiss you back when you go for the kiss, say “I love you” back, etc.), you’ll perceive them as way more attractive than if they’d be any shade of cold and disinterested.
7. Familiarity Bias. The theory around this bias says that we’re wired to be drawn to what is known and familiar and to run away from and avoid what is uncertain and unknown. Therefore, one of the many reasons you overestimate your ex’s attraction is because they’re simply more familiar than the other guys or girls you can date, fuck, or cultivate relationships with.
8. Turbulence Bias. This bias occurs when you overestimate the chemistry and compatibility with your ex, with whom you suffered a lot of emotionally challenging circumstances. It can play out in several ways, the most common being breaking up and reuniting with an ex countless times and then perceiving those breakups and reunions as further proof that you two belong together. This is all a fantasy that makes you overvalue your ex. Don’t fall for it.
9. Spillover Bias. This bias makes you overestimate your ex’s attraction because it compels you to pay close attention to their past, out-of-date information. For instance, maybe you had a healthy and happy relationship once. But eventually, things went crashing down, and it became an unmanageable toxic cesspool. Yet, due to the spillover bias, you’re stuck in the past, thinking that if you just mend things, your relationship will magically be unicorns and rainbows again and stay that way forever.
10. Fading Affect Bias. Likely the most talked-about bias in the ex-back space due to its rule during no contact; it compels you to overestimate your ex’s attraction by making you forget memories associated with negative emotions quicker than those associated with positive ones. So once we stretch your life’s timeline far enough, you’ll be more inclined to forget about things like the fights you had with your ex and rather reminisce things like that one time you did coke in your school’s bathroom. (It is important to note, however, that this bias solely refers to the decay of feelings associated with specific memories, not the contents of those memories themselves.)
11. Serendipity Bias. This bias occurs when you interpret coincidences involving your ex as signs of fate or something supernatural bringing you together. For instance, you may stumble upon your ex at a random seminar on the other side of the world — somewhere you’d least expect it — and then think that some divinely orchestrated purpose brought you together. As a result, you overvalue them and the meaning of the relationship and perhaps even see an emotional connection that isn’t really there. In reality, stuff like this is always just a coincidence. Like with the turbulence bias, don’t fall for it!
12. Rose Colored Glasses Bias. Also coined The Rosy Introspection Bias. This one activates when enough time has passed since your breakup for nostalgia to manifest. And it essentially makes certain events feel more pleasing, exciting, and positive than they actually were, making you overestimate your ex’s attraction. For example, that one average (or below average) date you had with them may, in due time, feel as though you’ve touched Jennifer Lawrence’s tits.
13. Beauty Bias. A bias none of us want to admit we fall prey to, yet we all do. The idea is that the more physically attractive your ex is, the more convinced you’ll be they’re also brilliant, funny, or exceptional and irreplaceable in some way — a.k.a., incredibly attractive overall.
14. Confirmation Bias. While not directly related to attraction, this bias makes you exclusively look for facts and information that validates and justifies your existing beliefs — in your case, about your ex’s overall attraction. So if one friend tells you how your ex is not special, and another tells you otherwise, you’ll not only almost always gravitate toward the opinion of the latter friend, but you’ll also almost solely look for evidence suggesting they’re correct.
15. Pro-Relationship Bias. A relatively new discovery; this bias argues that since we’re wired to cultivate enriching emotional connections, we’re also inclined to make decisions that favor the initiation, advancement, and maintenance of our romantic relationships. Therefore, even if you know your ex is a toxic piece of shit that you shouldn’t get near to even with a 20 feet pole, you’ll still likely be inclined to overvalue them and mend your relationship.
Again, you can’t rid yourself of these biases. So don’t even try. You can only understand them and become more aware of them. Therefore, figure out and understand which ones you’re susceptible to and use that understanding to inform your future relationship decisions and ground yourself in reality.
If you need more help getting your ex back, check out my Radical Re-Attraction Course. With over 8h of video, 300 pages of writing, and personalized 1-on-1 coaching, I'll walk you through every step of the re-attraction process from start to finish.
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