Usually, when I break up with someone, that's it. It's over. We often become friends, but the romantic part of our relationship is dunzo. So I almost never have to ask myself if I should get back with my ex.
But of course, there is an exception to that rule. I had an on-again, off-again relationship that just about broke me. We worked together and he had just finalized his divorce. That should have been a red flag, but initially my intentions were to keep it light and breezy. I was dating other people, so I wasn't sweating the warning signs. Fast forward two years, and my heart and self-esteem were in tatters. We had broken up and gotten back together so many times that I couldn't begin to keep count. That was because I always lead with my heart. I wanted to get back together so badly that I never stopped to consider if it was a good idea.
By the time I realized it was hopeless — and that he really, really sucked, like, as a human being — that constant cycle of feeling loved and heartbroken had taken a huge emotional and psychological toll. I finally understood the phrase "fools rush in." It took a while, but I did eventually heal my heart — but that toxic relationship taught me lessons I would never forget.
Fortunately, you don't have to be a fool. You can learn from my experience and avoid falling into the trap of reuniting with a terrible ex. Here's what you need to ask yourself before you consider taking them back.
1. Why Did You Break Up In The First Place?
This question is probably the most important one to ask, because how you answer it will go a long way toward determining if you should get back together… and if it has any chance of succeeding.
Was the split because of some one-off situation, like them going to college out of state, or a personal or family crisis? Was it something serious but not critical, like beginning to take one another for granted? Or was it something major like infidelity, lying, or abuse of any kind? Some of these are reconcilable, but some definitely are not.
2. What Has Changed Since You Split?
Just because it didn't work out the first time you gave love a go doesn't mean it's doomed. But in order to have a different outcome next time, something has to have changed or history will repeat itself.
Sometimes, people just need a bit of time apart to know they really do want to be together. If that's the case, the odds are in your favor. However, it's very difficult and rare for people to fundamentally change, so if your relationship went bust because of a personality trait, an incompatibility, or a personal values clash, its a no-go. That's a guaranteed relationship Groundhog's Day situation.
3. How Toxic Was The Break Up?
Break ups can be U.G.L.Y. Sometimes, the things we do when our hearts are breaking are even worse than the reason we go our separate ways to begin with. And sometimes, they show a person's true colors. So before you reunite, think carefully about who both you became when things got bad. That will give you some insight into who this person is and how they may react in the hard times that come in any relationship.
Also, it's hard not to hold onto some resentment if you treated each other horribly, but if you're going to make a go of it, you need to clean the slate so that you don't carry those feelings over into the new relationship. So depending on how toxic things got, staying together may not be possible.
4. When You Imagine Your Future, Are They In It?
This question is an important one to ask in every serious relationship — you need to know if you can see yourself with this person for the long haul. Do they share your plans for the future? Do they even fit into the life you imagine in five to 10 years?
If you don't think this person is someone you can see yourself with long-term, you're just setting yourself up for heartbreak. It's important to know before you take the leap if you are just getting back with them because you are lonely, or if there's real potential here. Don't hurt yourself or them just because you want someone in the moment.
5. What Do Your Family And Friends Think About You Getting Back Together?
Often times, when considering getting back together with an ex, you're just too close to it to be able to consider things rationally. This is why it's helpful to look to your loved ones as a barometer of whether or not a reunion is a good idea.
If everyone who loves you is screaming to hit the brakes, it's likely because they see that the relationship was not a healthy one. They hurt when you hurt. On the other hand, if everyone around you is thrilled with the idea, then that's a good sign that you should consider getting back together.
When it comes to deciding whether or not to rekindle with your ex, it should always be 25 percent heart and 75 percent head.
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