We all crave comfort and familiarity, especially when it comes to our romantic relationships. This explains why experiencing a breakup is so devastating for us.
It isn't just about losing the person. It's about losing the routine you had with that person, and the chance to make new memories together as a couple.
The only constant in life, however, is change. No matter how much you fight it, your life will be completely different 10 years from now. That life may include old relationships, but it may not. That's OK.
The important thing is this: Every relationship you nurture and invest your time in should reward you in some way. So, before you run into the arms of an old lover, ask yourself these questions to see if it's the right move for you:
1. Are you lonely?
People like companionship. Of course you're going to miss spending time with your ex. But do you miss the person, or just a warm body?
Would you be equally happy if you had some TV shows to keep you company, or would you feel weird watching them without your ex's specific commentary?
Loneliness is easy to solve: Get a dog or attend a Meetup event. But missing unique attributes about a person is a sign there's still something there to pursue.
2. Is a reunion feasible?
On the other hand, people romanticize and idealize past relationships, especially when they're the ones who have been dumped. You might miss every little thing about your ex that only you can know and appreciate, but does your ex feel the same way?
If the yearning isn't mutual, let it go. You've wasted enough time on this person already.
3. Has anything changed?
Remember, it's called a breakup because it's broken. So, what's changed?
If the problem was youth and immaturity, has enough time passed? If the issue was infidelity, can you be sure it won't happen again? If you fought incessantly, will that start again once you're past the honeymoon period?
The key is to identify what went wrong and realistically assess whether it's something that can be remedied. The more objective you are, the better.
4. How were you treated?
Certain things – like abuse and disrespect – have the tendency to linger. Was your ex rude and dismissive? Did he or she keep secrets or sneak around? No matter how good the good times are, they don't make up for bad times like these.
Try to remember the worst points of your relationship, and ask yourself if you'd be able to endure them again. If not, walk away before you give history a chance to repeat itself.
5. Are you scared?
Are you scared of dying alone? Do you think you've lost your one chance at true love and, by extension, the family you've always wanted? Are you worried you're approaching a certain age and haven't met your own timelines or expectations? This is the perfect formula for settling.
If you're going back to your ex because you answered "yes" to any of these questions and believe your ex is the only solution, you're getting back together for all the wrong reasons.
6. Are you busy enough?
Do you really miss your ex, or are you just not busy enough? One month post-breakup, do you still find yourself sad in the middle of an awesome concert? How about while you're at a work retreat or volunteering?
If you wish your ex was with you even during your best moments, you know your feelings go beyond the typical breakup mourning period. You may be missing the person you're meant to be with.
7. Who else is affected?
Other people should rarely play a part in your romantic decisions, but when there's a breakup, there's damage that has been done. Many times, it's inconsequential, like your mom not liking your ex because he or she made you cry. Your parents will get over it if they see you're truly happier together.
But what if you have children or mutual friends? Be conscious of how trying again could raise not only your hopes, but also the hopes of others around you.
8. Is this person worth it?
Is this person worth it for you to keep trying to fix an already failed relationship? Would you rather be working toward mending your broken past, rather than finding a shiny new future?
Are you prepared for the very real possibility that you may be heartbroken again? If you answered "yes," then take the leap.
Love is always worth the risk, and not everyone perfects it the first time around. Be honest with yourself. Know that you have options, and take the time to sort through them all.
At the end of the day, the only thing you should be chasing is your own happiness.