Getting Back With An Ex? 14 Things To Consider Before You Do It
Are you considering getting back with an ex?
Many of us find ourselves in this situation post-break-up and wonder if we’ve made the right decision.
Have we just dodged a bullet or made the BIGGEST mistake or our lives?!
The problem is that too many movies and TV shows romanticize getting back with an ex (hello, Ross and Rachel). You’re rooting for the make-believe couple so badly that you forget about all the pain, drama, and messiness that goes with re-igniting that flame.
According to family therapist David Klow, human beings are wired to seek both attachment and new experiences. Hence why the prospect of getting back with an ex is so appealing—it ticks both of these boxes. On top of that, the alternative can be far less attractive. Swiping endlessly on dating apps, going on crummy dates, and meeting crappy guys who don’t even come close to what you’re looking for.
Getting to know someone brand new takes a lot of time. And there’s never any guarantee that things will work out. So your mind starts thinking, surely it makes more sense to give things another shot with the ex than start afresh? You already know each other intimately, and maybe things will work out the second time around?
Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t.
According to a survey by the Associated Press, 41% of people have gotten back together with an ex at some point. So you wouldn’t be in bad company if you did, but whether it works out or not is an entirely different issue.
There are so many factors to consider before you jump back into a relationship that you consciously ended.
Is getting back with an ex ever a good idea?
I’m not going to sit here and say this is never a good idea because there are cases where a bit of time and space apart is all you both need to realize that you want to build a life together.
However, you must go into this with your eyes wide open.
Why do you want to get back with your ex?
How did you leave things, and is your ex open to reconciliation?
What went wrong the first time, can it be resolved, and are you both willing to do what it takes to work through that?
Have you given yourself enough breathing space to properly reflect and see whether you’re a good match?
“As long as there aren’t serious issues such as abusive behavior in the relationship and each partner really cares about the other, a second chance at a successful relationship could work.”—Noelle Nelson, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Dangerous Relationships.
Here are 14 things you must consider BEFORE getting back with an ex.
1. Do you really want him back, or are you just heartbroken?
We all know how devastating and emotionally rough a breakup can be. It’s normal to feel like you’re grieving (even though the person hasn’t died) because you’re experiencing the loss of having this person as a constant rock in your life.
This can leave you feeling a rollercoaster of emotions. You might be lonely, sad, feeling guilty (if you broke up with him), angry, resentful, lost, and lacking self-confidence and self-love.
And when you’re feeling lonely and heartbroken, like your world just isn’t going to be sunny again, it can lead you to make poor choices that aren’t good for you in the long run.
So, ask yourself, do you really want him back, or are you just trying to avoid going through the pain of a breakup? Do you genuinely miss him, or do you miss having someone there with you when you wake up and go to sleep?
If you’re struggling with the breakup, there are plenty of things you can do to make yourself feel better, including:
- Cutting all contact with him
- Letting yourself grieve
- Clearing out anything that reminds you of him
- Taking care of your body (eating well and exercising daily)
- Spending time with friends
- Working on YOU
2. Have you given yourself enough time and space to make a rational decision?
It’s normal that there are certain things you will miss about being in a relationship. Things like dinners out, Netflix and chill nights in with pizza, and good sex with someone you’re comfortable with and who knows exactly what you want.
Put all those things aside for a moment and think about whether you’ve had enough time apart to make a clear and considered decision about getting back with your ex.
From the moment you start considering the possibility, give yourself a week to mull it over. Once that’s up, give yourself another week. And once you get there, give yourself—yes, you guessed it—ANOTHER week. Keep doing this until you reach a healthy amount of time (at least two months).
This time will allow you to see your relationship clearly. It will also give you the space needed to think about what you need and whether this is right for you.
Don’t rush yourself out of fear of them moving on and dating someone else. If you’re both on the same page and wanting to make it work, he will still be there when you’re ready to make a decision.
3. What do you want in a relationship?
The time and space you have on your own right now are perfect for doing some much-needed self-reflection.
Who are you?
How have you grown since starting and ending things with your ex?
What do you want in a relationship now? Is this different from what you wanted previously?
Was there anything significant missing in your relationship the last time, and can this be resolved the second time around?
Many things can easily be resolved as long as you’re both willing to put in the work. For example, you can strengthen your communication, appreciate each other more, and make sure you devote more time to your relationship.
However, other things are not as easy to fix—big goals and values. Like maybe one of you wants to get married while the other doesn’t. Or perhaps you want to take a job abroad, but your partner is adamant they want to stay put.
What’s important is you both know what you want and what you’re not willing to compromise on.
This is part of my Little Love Step #2: Creating your love vision. When you take the time to figure out the man and relationship that is compatible with the future you want, you’ll be able to attract the right man and avoid the wrong relationships.
4. If this was your best friend, what advice would you give her?
One exercise that can be helpful when thinking about getting back with an ex is to pretend your best friend is the one going through this right now.
What advice would you give her?
Would you tell her to take a bit more time and see how she feels once she’s stopped hurting? Or would you tell her to jump right in, because what does she have to lose?
The answers to these questions depend on the relationship in question. If you knew they were having lots of arguments, and you constantly had to pick up the pieces, you’d be more likely to remind her of the bad times and ask her to think about it carefully.
So I invite you to do the same for yourself.
5. What’s your primary motive for getting back with your ex?
I see a lot of women considering getting back with an ex primarily out of fear of being on their own and being single again.
Even if the relationship clearly wasn’t healthy or functional, they would rather be miserable in a couple than miserable on their own.
But what I need you to know is if you dislike being single so much that you would rather settle being with someone who isn’t good for you, then there are bigger issues at play here that you need to address before even thinking about being in a relationship.
If you allow fear to dictate your choices, you will shrink a little more each day as a woman until you wake up one day and realize you’ve completely lost who you are. I understand that being single—especially after being with someone for so long—is terrifying. But this can also be a beautiful opportunity to rediscover yourself, have new experiences, and create a life that brings you real joy.
So before getting back with an ex, be honest about what your primary motive is. And if it’s rooted in fear, this is not a good reason to do it!
6. Make a timeline of your relationship
In my experience, women are in danger of allowing their first impression of people to cloud their judgment of a person’s true character. So, even if there is an orchard of red flags, you may end up clinging onto a vision of how you want things to be or how they used to be instead of how they are.
One way to get a more accurate picture of your relationship is to make a timeline. Write down all the significant events—good and bad. Get them all out until you have nothing else to say.
When you’re done, read this back to yourself. Then ask yourself if this man and relationship are really what you want. Is your ex who you think they are or have you been living with rose-tinted glasses on the whole time?
7. Make a list of pros and cons of getting back with your ex
It may feel like you’re being pulled in different directions right now.
Part of you thinks you broke up for a reason and should leave things in the past and move on. While the other part of you wonders, what if we gave it one more shot and ended up living happily ever after?
Writing an old-school list of pros and cons can help bring you clarity when you feel like this. The act of listing out the positives and negatives of being and not being with your ex will move you into a rational space that can help you decide.
8. Does your ex make your life better or worse?
How do you feel now that your ex is gone? Is your life better or worse?
This can be difficult to answer if your breakup is fresh and you’re still feeling lonely and missing him in your life.
So, think back to when you were still together. Did the good days outweigh the bad? Were there more positives about your relationship than negatives? Did your ex make you a better version of yourself or a lesser version of yourself?
All relationships will have their ups and downs, but generally, you should be experiencing good days 90% of the time. And your partner should undoubtedly improve your life instead of creating more conflict or frustration.
Don’t consider getting back with an ex unless he, hand on heart, made your world brighter when he was in it.
9. Are you ready and willing to forgive?
Whatever happened in your relationship—lying, cheating, hurtful comments, etc.—you must both be willing to let the past go and forgive. That means not rehashing old wounds when you next argue and committing to leaving the past in the past and starting a blank slate.
For example, if there were trust issues between you before, unless you’re willing and able to fully trust your partner this time around, things are unlikely to end well. Maybe your partner forgets to text you when he’s coming home late after going out with the guys, and that leads you down a negative spiral wondering if he’s really with the guys or not telling you the whole truth. When he does finally make it home, you might end up blowing up at him because you’re thinking of his past mistakes.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have healthy disagreements, but it does mean you have to handle conflicts in a calm and mature way without trying to score points.
There are certain things that you won’t be able to forgive, so it all comes down to if you feel able to move forward or not.
10. Are you able to fix what went wrong the first time?
Can a broken relationship ever be fixed?
Getting back with an ex won’t work if you cannot fix what caused the breakup the first time around. Without taking this critical step, you’ll end up going round in circles and experiencing the same issues again until you address them.
So, are you able to fix what went wrong? And if so, are you both willing to put the work in to do it? Little Love Step #6 of my methodology is to set clear boundaries as a couple to set your relationship up for long-term success.
11. What happened while you were on a break?
Before you commit to getting back with your ex, it’s essential to have a chat about what happened while you were broken up.
For example, did you date anyone else? Did you sleep with anyone else?
You don’t have to go into details about who, what, and where (unless, of course, it involves a mutual friend, in which case, you DO need to give details). But make sure everything is out in the open to avoid any skeletons coming out the closet later down the line.
12. Trust your intuition
We don’t do this enough as human beings, but our intuition is a powerful tool—especially for women.
When was the last time you checked in with yourself and that little voice in the back of your head or the whispers of your heart?
Tune in to your intuition and allow it to guide you in making a decision. And if you decide getting back with your ex is the right choice for you, make sure you continue to trust your intuition along the way. If something ever feels wrong, trust and act on that inner feeling—it won’t steer you wrong and will only grow louder until you listen to it.
13. Not everyone will be fans of you getting back with an ex
If you decide to try round two with your ex, be prepared for your friends and family to be on a different page.
This is especially true if you have often gone to them for advice during rows, you’ve spoken negatively to them about your ex, or they’ve seen you upset during the lowest moments of the relationship. They will remember all the bad things and may remind you of them.
As long as you trust your family and friends, remember that they are looking out for you and only want the best for you. Avoid being defensive. Listen to what they have to say and acknowledge their concerns. Tell them you appreciate their advice, explain why you’re making this choice, and promise to keep them updated.
14. People don’t usually change
A 2013 study found almost half of all couples get back together after breaking up and that the couples who do get back together assume their partner will have changed for the better.
Why on earth would you ASSUME something like that?
Sure, it’d be great if that were the case, but you’re in for a shocker if your partner is the same as before.
The truth is, while some people can and do change, most people are more likely to stay the same. It’s so easy for couples who already know each other to slip back into old, negative patterns. So if there are certain things you cannot accept about this guy, it’s worth rethinking getting back with him.
Conclusion: The only person who can make the right choice is you
I could give you a ton more advice than what you’ve read here, you could speak to all your friends and even work with a dating coach. But at the end of the day, you know yourself and your ex, and only you can decide whether to give things another shot.
But remember to be completely honest with yourself. If you do want to get back with him, make sure it’s for the right reasons.
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Are you thinking about getting back with an ex, or have you ever done so in the past? Tell me all about it in the comments below!