7 Brutally Honest Phases Of Getting Back Together With Your Ex That Are Too Real

Starting a new relationship can feel like diving headfirst into a body of water and trusting that you’ll remember how to swim. But re-starting an old relationship can have a stranger sensation: upon going under, you’ll realize that you’ve paddled through this puddle before. Getting back together with your ex can simultaneously feel comforting and terrifying — the familiarity of nostalgia, mixed with the memory of when tides were rough.

I've always had difficulty letting people go, from toxic friends to unhealthy partners. In college, I’d give out second chances like information pamphlets. I was so determined to forge a deep connection, that I was willing to overlook countless red flags, in the hopes of finding my “happily ever after”. Driven by optimism, I’d impulsively get back together with my exes, wiping the slate as clean as my hard drive. But over time, I've come to learn that relationships are nothing like computers: you can’t compartmentalize your baggage by dragging it all into an unmarked folder and forgetting that it exists. Somehow, your old files (and flames) will always come back to haunt you.

To avoid being bombarded by old sentiments, I began feeling out my experience each time I got back together with an ex. These phases allowed me to address any concerns, doubts, or insecurities I was struggling with — because when your life is in flux, it’s perfectly normal not to feel OK. Remember to acknowledge your emotions instead of bottling them up beneath the surface, and above all else, to always prioritize your mental health and happiness.

1. Self-Doubt

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When you decide to give an old relationship a second go, you'll likely have trouble silencing that little voice in your head — the one that won't stop questioning if you're making a big mistake. The truth is: There's no golden standard when it comes to relationships, and therefore, no outcome can ever be 100 percent predictable. So as hard as it may feel at the time, try to distinguish between your self-doubt and your gut feeling. Follow your intuition, not your indecision.

2. The Never-Ending "What If's?"

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Ah, those pesky little words. Once you've made peace with your decision to dive back into an old relationship, you might experience a wave of comfort that comes from resolution. But despite that solace, you can still be confronted by the nagging notion of "What if?", which comes not from a place of doubt, but anticipation.

What if we can't get back to where we were? What if we're two different people now? What if we should have never broken up in the first place?

In the past, it has always helped me to address my reunion jitters directly with my partner. A relationship can always benefit from honest communication, and odds are, your significant other is already feeling the same way. You don't have to go through this confusing period alone! If you feel comfortable opening up to your partner, consider starting a dialogue. And if you're hesitant to bring up your concerns, ask yourself why that is — it might be an indication of a larger issue in your relationship.

3. Putting Up A Wall

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Once you've addressed any feelings of anxiety around getting back together with your partner, you might feel as if things are beginning to fall back into place. But if you still experience any discomfort around both emotional and/or physical intimacy, and prefer to take things slower than they once were, don't worry: Breakups can be incredibly painful, and you might be afraid of feeling that hurt again. Putting up a guarded wall is often our instinctive response to getting our heart broken. If it takes time to break down that barrier, then by all means, don't rush the process — you're only human, and trust issues are to be expected.

4. Déjà Vu

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As you're taking your time, growing comfortable with each other again, you might find that things are eerily familiar: It's hard to treat a first date as such, when you know exactly what the person on the other side of the table is going to order. Nostalgia can be tricky: While it can be a helpful tool when reconnecting, it also can distract you from the present moment. Instead of getting caught up in what once was, consider sharing new experiences: Take a class together, or travel to a neighborhood you've never visited. Make a new memory to avoid reliving the past.

5. Feeling A Little Off

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Once you've both settled into a routine, your relationship may appear to sail more smoothly — but not necessarily seamlessly. Schedules and organization can be good thing, as they can provide a welcomed distraction that keeps you from nitpicking at the little things. But you might notice that things still feel a little weird, perhaps because you're both afraid to mess things up. This can manifest itself in the form of acting too politely towards one another, being submissive in conversation, or acting overly apologetic. Remember, arguing is a completely healthy aspect of being in a relationship. It is much more productive to address your emotions head on, rather than living in fear of stirring the pot.

When I first started dating my current partner, I was so worried that every little argument meant our relationship was imperfect, and therefore, doomed to fail. But I've since learned that compassion and compromise are the true cornerstones of a strong connection — not accordance and undisturbed bliss.

6. Accepting The New Normal

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When you finally stop living in fear of creating cracks in your foundation, you can stop imposing expectations on how and where your relationship should be, and start enjoying and experiencing where it is!

Sure, your partner might be someone who has been in your life for a long time, but right now, they're fulfilling a different role — and that's an exciting place to be in. Once you face the "new normal" status of your relationship, the stress of striving for something more will melt away. There's a difference between knowing what something should resemble, and truly seeing what's right in front of you; look for the latter.

7. Getting To Know Each Other (Again)

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The most wonderful part of accepting your new circumstances, is the realization that follows: You might both be two very different people now. While that might sound scary at first, becoming (re)acquainted with an old flame can completely refresh your relationship in an unexpected way. Instead of entering each encounter assuming you know what they're thinking and how they'll behave, give your partner the benefit of the doubt, and truly have fun getting to know them all over again. Think of this as the start of something new (sorry for the High School Musical reference), rather than the continuation of something stale.

There is no right way to ease yourself back into a relationship. Whether it takes you a couple of days, or a couple of months, don't force yourself to feel a certain way, and make sure you're often checking in with your own emotional needs. As long as you're coming from a place of honest intent, there's no harm in taking the irsk and canon-balling back in. This time around, you might just enjoy where the current takes you.

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