Getting Back with an Ex? Ask Yourself These Questions First!

Before you dive headfirst into getting back with an ex, take a step back and ask yourself these six important questions.

Breaking up can be gut-wrenchingly hard, and harder still the longer you’ve been with someone. You may or may not be saying goodbye forever, left to mourn not just the loss of your relationship, but also the time invested and perhaps the future you’d hoped for.

Dating after divorce, for example, might feel like pedaling around a heart that’s just not intact right away. The short-term heartache after any breakup, though, is especially acute, and sometimes the idea of rekindling an extinguished flame can seem like the perfect solution to the loneliness and nostalgia you might be feeling.

If more time has passed and you’re suddenly feeling drawn back to an ex, you might have the same equal enthusiasm by virtue of what psychologists refer to as “rosy retrospection,” wherein you romanticize the idea of old relationships and forget all the hard parts that made them unsuccessful. Alternatively, you might just be viewing a past relationship perfectly reasonably through new lenses.

Whichever the case, before you dive headfirst into getting back with an ex, it’s sensible to take a step back and ask yourself some important questions. After all, reconnecting can be complicated, and treading carefully can spare you pain and confusion later.

Let’s talk about six things worth pondering before you consider a reunion with your former partner:

1. Have You Both Grown and Changed? 

One of the first things to consider in getting back with an ex is whether both you and your ex have evolved since the relationship ended. Personal growth is a vital component of any healthy relationship, and it’s worth clocking how your experiences apart might have contributed to your development as individuals; positive changes in values, goals, and communication skills can pave the way for a more successful second try.

2. What Were the Reasons for the Breakup? 

You don’t need to rehash every hiccup, but a solid understanding of the themes of what didn’t work will be helpful in cultivating something that does. Delve into the past and examine the reasons your relationship ended. Was it due to conflicting life goals, incompatible values, or unresolved issues? Was the timing just off? Understanding the root causes can help you determine whether those challenges can be overcome, or if history might repeat itself.

3. Is This Loneliness or Genuine Attachment? 

Loneliness can often trigger a yearning for familiarity, leading you to seek solace from the past. This is also a path of least resistance, and not entirely dissimilar to the psychology behind relapses in those with addiction. Take a moment to assess whether you’re genuinely missing your ex, or simply seeking comfort. Are you lonely or alone? There’s a difference! Healthy attachment is based on mutual respect, trust, and shared objectives, rather than a reflexive response to loneliness. Notably, that reflexive response is very normal, and not something you need to feel shame or guilt over, but if you do find yourself in that position and have the strength to acknowledge it, you’ve already won half the battle.

4. What Are Your Expectations? 

Do you know already? Check in with yourself and be honest about what you hope to achieve by getting back with an ex. This may be easier said than done, but a quick inventory might help. Is this thoughtful and intentional, or a wine-fueled text thread at 1AM?  Are you looking for closure, companionship, friendship, physical intimacy, or the potential for a long-term commitment? Knowing your expectations and communicating them can set you both up for success by keeping you honest with yourself and your person.

5. Are You Both Willing to Communicate Openly? 

Communication is everything. Communication is almost all we really have. Reflect on your ability and willingness to communicate openly with your ex. Are you both ready to address past issues, express your needs, and listen to each other without judgment? Are you willing to acknowledge where you might not have shown up best for them, too? Getting there sets the stage for a better run the second time around, and among the most important stages of getting back together with an ex.

6. Can You Take It Slow? 

Slow and steady will keep you both conscious of the relationship dynamic and leave space to build new things. On the flip side, rushing back into the relationship can lead to repeating old patterns. Our suggestion is to allow yourselves the time to rebuild trust, and consider how to take it slow when getting back with an ex: re-establishing connection, and creating new memories and an improved dynamic with one another before taking any plunges. If you are feeling compelled to rush back into something that wasn’t good for you, take a moment first, knowing that this discussion with yourself might be difficult. 

Let’s Talk about Being Alone

Let’s go there. True, if you’re running back toward an unhealthy relationship out of total fear and utter discomfort at the prospect of any period of solitude, you probably have some soul searching to do to find out why. Those are thoughts you can also share with your best friend, life coach, therapist, or matchmaker; this is just information for you, and nothing to be embarrassed by. 

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of pop theory going around the interwebs telling us that we need to be fully content on our own. Healed. Independent and thriving. Happy and single. Complete.

That’s a dream, and an obtainable one, but let’s also acknowledge how idealistic it sounds; we’re all works in progress and evolving, and some people simply fare better in partnership. At Tawkify, we’ve seen some clients’ moving on from an ex accelerated when they realize they can get those butterflies and feel connection again, and that can be okay, too. 

Does Getting Back with an Ex Ever Work?

We’re here to arm you against common pitfalls, but if asked this question outright, the answer is simply “yes.” It can, anyway, but the key ingredient for this is likely some kind of change. You might both be older and wiser, one of you might finally be out of medical school or the job that made you miserable, or you’re each listening harder or breaking previous patterns. There’s no perfect formula, and every relationship is unique, but if you’re re-entering something you’ve already tried to let go of, a simple and concerted inventory of both “why” and “how” can make all the difference in making it work.  

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