I compare every date to my ex

We'll skip chat this week because everyone is off for snow, I think. But what a good day to send a letter, right?

Hi Meredith,

I am in my 20s and trying to navigate through post-relationship single life. I had a relationship that lasted six months, came to a seemingly abrupt halt, then followed with about six months of on and off. We had an amazing relationship, the chemistry was off the charts, and we built a vision together for the future. However, she did stop/start things most of the time, which was very confusing and hurtful for me. She'd say "I see us together forever" only to end things for one reason or another. Most of the time it was about a disagreement or misunderstanding that she felt we couldn't get over ... and then she'd reinitiate things later (until that stopped).

Fast forward four months since we last spoke. I've been distracting myself with friends, family, and trips, and I'm having a great time doing so. I've gotten back into the dating scene but am having trouble finding the same spark and chemistry I shared with my ex-girlfriend. That spark was unbelievable. Despite the turbulence that relationship experienced, I keep wondering whether we should give it another shot because I miss her quite a bit. I still have this fear that I'll be missing out on something potentially great if I don't try.

I have seen others make it work and be happy together after being on/off. What's your take on that? If I do pursue getting back together, how do you recommend reinitiating things and making it sustain? If I still play the field, is it fair to compare my attraction to someone else to what I felt for my ex-girlfriend?

- Why Isn't Love Easy

To start, it's only been four months. You were smitten (or in love) with this woman for a long time, so don't expect to be able to instantaneously replace her with someone new. You're grieving the breakup while dating other people. That's fine – multi-tasking can be good – but it does mean you're seeing everyone you meet through a very specific lens. It might take more time for you to notice that you do have some sparks with these women.

Your dating life might improve if you make a final decision about your ex and convince yourself that you will not be getting back together. Remind yourself that the relationship was all about ups and downs, and that you described that turbulence as "confusing and hurtful." I'm sure that other people have had luck getting back together after an on-and-off relationship but ... they're not you. Right now, your ex isn't asking to try again. You need to make peace with the fact that it's over.

Instead of writing fantasy narratives about your ex, keep dating. Have second and third dates, because that's often when the real chemistry kicks in. Try not to compare everyone to your former girlfriend, but if you must, please remember all of the bad stuff, too.

– Meredith

Readers? Should the letter writer reach out? Do people make it work after this kind of on-and-off relationship?