At some point, almost everyone has tried to work things out with an ex. Sometimes it goes really well: the space allows partners to appreciate each other, grow and mature independently and work much better when they reunite. Other times it’s absolutely awful, complete with cheating, drama, and tequila-sodden nights sobbing in club bathrooms and swearing that you thought your ex had changed. Either way, it’s important to think things through thoroughly and have open, honest conversations with your ex so you can make sure that this is the best choice for both of you. Here are our top things to think about when you’re considering getting back with your ex.
- Are there any children involved? Divorce and separation are difficult for everyone, and having kids makes things a hundred times worse. As a parent, you need to consider your child’s needs and the impact your actions have on their lives. For my part, I believe that separating, reconciling and possibly re-seperating is far more stressful and disruptive for your children than a clean break. If you’re at a stage where you’re considering trying your relationship again, you’re (hopefully) on good terms with your ex, and future break ups might well damage a positive co-parenting relationship.
- Why did the first relationship end? If your childhood sweetheart kissed you when you were 11, then moved across the country and you ended up living in the same city as adults and falling in love, congratulations on having a wonderfully romantic story, and I wish you all the love and happiness in the world. If your relationship ended because your partner slept with your best friend, then I wouldn’t rush into it. I cannot think of a single relationship that ended because of infidelity that ultimately worked out. Relationships don’t work out for hundreds of different reasons: you weren’t sexually compatible, you wanted different things, you found out you were gay, you found out you were straight, you wanted to scream every time they said the word ‘vase’. If you’re going to get back with an ex, you need to identify the issue and make sure that it doesn’t happen again, or that your opinion on it changed. There may be changes that you or your partner need to make… and you need to consider why you didn’t just do that before, and save yourself all the heartache.
- Are you looking at your ex through rose-tinted glasses? It’s easy to scroll through some old Instagram posts or find a leftover birthday card that makes you nostalgic for a previous relationship, but that doesn’t mean that you were actually happy. It’s easy to supercut some good memories and forget all the times your ex didn’t take your side, didn’t listen to you when you needed someone to talk to or ate all the food in your fridge and wouldn’t replace it, because we don’t tend to memorialize those moments. A lot of people write themselves letters at the end of relationships to help them remember when things weren’t great but if you haven’t done that, ask some friends or stop and try to think. Your relationship wasn’t perfect and that’s probably why it ended. Bumping into your ex at a coffee shop and seeing how nice they look in a new shirt shouldn’t erase all the very real reasons that you broke up.
- Will you be able to trust your ex? This is mainly relevant if you weren’t the one who ended the initial relationship. Something went wrong and you were dumped. What if that happens again? Relationships aren’t supposed to be constantly stressful, but worrying if your partner thinks they’ve made the wrong decision will probably bother you for a while and, ironically, could cause issues in your relationship.
When I was 17 I got back together with a boyfriend. He dumped me on a Friday, called me on a Tuesday saying that he missed me and by Thursday we were kissing by the college bins. It didn’t last. But I was a dramatic and, frankly, immature teenager trying to figure out how relationships worked and what I wanted. As I’ve grown up I’ve realised that there actually are plenty more fish in the sea and when relationships don’t work out it’s often much healthier to try and learn, grow and perhaps move on to someone new. But if you believe that the issue that ended your relationship initially has been fixed and that your ex is a special person who works well with you, perhaps it’s worth persisting and mending things instead of throwing them away.