6 Things to Consider When You Are Thinking of Returning to a Prior Relationship
Going through a breakup is never an enjoyable experience. Feelings of loneliness, sadness, anger, and missing your ex partner are usually all part of the package at least some of the time. The time period after a breakup can be very difficult and it is extremely common to wonder if the breakup was a mistake, and whether or not you should consider getting back together.
This is almost never an easy decision, and there is no right or wrong answer to this question that will be suitable for everyone in every situation. There are, however, important considerations that can help you figure out if getting back together with your ex is the right thing for you.
1. How much time has passed since the breakup?
The time after a breakup is often one of confusion, mood swings, and emotional instability. While this is nothing to be ashamed of, it is usually not the best time to be trying to make rational life decisions. A decision such as this one is best approached with a clear head, and it often takes a while for these emotional storms to settle.
How long this takes can vary—for some it could be a few days, and for others a few months or more. As a general rule, it is usually best to wait at least a couple of months to adjust to singledom without trying to escape it. Take some time apart from each other (even go no-contact for a while if this is best and you are able to do so!) and work out if your heartbreak was only a temporary state of affairs.
2. Why did the breakup happen?
The reasons that you and your ex split up in the first place are highly relevant to whether or not reconciliation is possible or desirable. There are some situations in which you should never take your ex back, such as if they were violent or abusive.
Another common cause of breakups is infidelity. If your partner cheated on you, the decision on whether or not to give them another chance can be very difficult. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this, but forgiveness should come with a confidence that the mistake will not be repeated, otherwise the reunion is unlikely to last. If you were the unfaithful partner, it will be you who needs to regain the trust of your ex. If the breakup was caused by a decline in attraction, a change in feelings, or any other disagreement, solutions may be possible through communication with each other.
3. Can the problems that caused the breakup be fixed?
Some problems are unlikely to be fixed. In situations where trust has been irreparably damaged, it is usually best to leave the relationship in the past. Getting back together with a partner who you no longer trust is only likely to result in resentment and the same problems revisiting you again.
However, some problems are able to be fixed—if not instantly, then with work and time. It is possible that the breakup was indeed a mistake, and the problems could have been fixed. There are many common problems (disagreements, jealousy, sexual problems, etc) that occur at least sometimes in all long-term relationships, and are often not serious enough to require the end of the relationship.
4. Do you want your ex to change?
Your ex may desperately want you back, but the more important question is: are they willing to do the work needed to get you back and to keep you? If your ex contributed in any way to the reasons behind the breakup (and in most situations, it is rarely entirely the fault of just one partner), they will need to show that they have genuinely changed if the relationship is to work out.
My first boyfriend, who I broke up with because he cheated on me, managed to briefly win me back by promising that he had changed. Unfortunately, it became apparent that he was only saying this to get me back, as the same thing happened again a few weeks later. This goes both ways, however: if the relationship ending was your fault, then you will be the one who needs to change in order to make things work again!
5. Do you miss your ex, or do you just miss being in a relationship?
One of the most difficult questions to answer is this: were you really happy in the relationship? It is easy to view a past relationship through rose-tinted glasses and forget about the less-than-ideal aspects, especially when you are in the depths of heartbreak after a recent split. I once had an ill-advised reunion with an ex because I felt lonely and didn’t want to be single at Christmas—needless to say, this was not a good reason to reunite, and the relationship did not last long.
If you are feeling lonely, it is worth considering whether you are missing your ex specifically, or if you are simply missing the company and/or validation that being in a relationship can offer. If it is the latter, you may be able to find this in family, friendships, or even from within yourself. Learning to love yourself is vital,and a healthy self-esteem leads to a happier life and healthier, stronger relationships. In addition to this, there may be plenty of other dating opportunities out there if you move on from this one person.
6. Are both of your future plans and life goals aligned?
If you and your ex are considering getting back together, it is essential to work out what expectations you each have of a future together. Are you expecting things to go exactly back to the way they were before, or would you prefer change? Are you in agreement on future plans such as careers, where to live, whether to have any/more children, etc? Minor disagreements may be easily worked out or compromised on, but more serious rifts may cause significant issues.
Ultimately, the most important things to remember when making this decision are to both always be honest with each other and communicate effectively, and to make sure that you are happy with yourself regardless of whether or not you are in a romantic relationship. If you have considered these points and think you are ready to rekindle your old relationship, then go and get your ex back!
Brenda is a relationships and lifestyle writer, coffee enthusiast, and a lover of new experiences. You’ll usually find her in a coffee shop with her laptop and a flat white scribbling down an article or searching for the next travel destination. She is a contributing author at GoDates, and several other online publications.