While there's something tragically appealing about being the "one that got away," there's nothing appealing about being the one who let the one get away. Relationships can be tricky and love can be complicated, so if you find yourself single and looking back, wondering if perhaps your ex was the love of your life, please don't beat yourself up about it. Time and distance can give you perspective on a relationship that you didn't have when you were in the thick of it.
If you still have feelings for your ex, it might be hard to determine whether you're just frustrated with your current dating options and experiences or if you really, truly are meant to be with your ex. While getting back together with an ex isn't uncommon, I spoke to Shula Melamed, relationship and wellness coach, about this and she said it's worth giving the relationship another shot "if you can't get over your ex and the reasons for the breakup had to do with circumstances or personal development that had to be embarked on for either partner."
So if one of you wasn't ready to "settle down" or one of you needed get over a past relationship or do some personal work, reuniting might be a good idea. She adds, "If you or they have come to a place where better care and attention can be paid to the relationship, it might be worth a shot."
Now, if you were the one to initiate the breakup in the first place but you find yourself thinking of your ex as the "one that got away," it might seem tricky to approach your ex and ask for another chance. Melamed suggests that before you do this, "Dig deep and figure out your motivations for ending the relationship in the first place. Have you done the necessary work on yourself to show up for yourself, the other person, and this relationship?"
Of course your relationship with this person ended for a reason and very likely mistakes were made. When you reach out to your ex, make sure to be aware that they might not be open to starting something up again with you. A key to this conversation with them will be respect, and you should respect their feelings if they are not open to dating again. Melamed offers this advice to prepare for the conversation. She says to ask yourself, "What will you differently this time and how can you make sure you will create the correct conditions for the relationship to thrive?" Approach the conversation with your ex with honesty, openness and vulnerability, but Melamed also warns, "Be prepared for whatever their response might be. "
So many aspects of dating, love, and relationships are mysterious and I asked Melamed if there are any possible signs — obvious indicators — that your ex was truly the love of your life. Wouldn't it be nice to have a checklist to work with or a surefire way to know? Melamed says, "This is very personal. It really has to do with your understanding of yourself, your needs, your ex partner, their needs, and how and why your relationship ended." So because every person and every relationship is different, the only way to know if your ex is the love of your life is to dig deep within yourself for the answer.
Now, lets say you've done the work, come to the realization that your ex is the love of your life, and you've approached them about reconciling... and they don't feel the same. Perhaps they've moved on, are in another relationship, or haven't resolved the issues that caused your split in the first place. First of all, I want to give you a hug. This is tough stuff. However, Melamed suggests that you consider that many of us will make connections with multiple people over the course of our lives. Melamed says, "This person could be a love of your life but not the love of your life - stay strong with what is in the moment."
Just like distance and perspective from your relationship gave you the ability to see your ex might be the love of your life, distance and perspective from where you are right now might give you a different opinion in the future. Melamed offers, "Heal your heart and then with some distance from the situation try to begin to understand what place in your life this relationship has in the greater scheme of your life." She also believes that love is a verb, "It's something you do, it's full expression is active."
So as you go on and live your life, you might find comfort and support in knowing that this experience might have been preparing you for a bigger and better love.
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