We all have that ex that we can't help but wonder "what if" about. Mine was a guy we'll call "Bryan." I met him right after high school and we dated for three years. He was amazing. Tall, gorgeous, and just an all around great guy. The problem was, we got together at 19 and we both wanted to do way more living before we settled down. Eventually, we split and moved on with our lives. I'm happily coupled with someone else now, but sometimes I wonder if I had known how to win your ex back then, what could have been. Probably it would have been a hot mess, but it’s something to think about.
Still, getting back together with a former flame is one thing, but how do you stay together for long-term after? That’s were things get tricky, so I called in a professional to get some advice. I reached out to April Masini, a relationship and etiquette expert and author from RelationshipAdviceForum.com. Masini assured me that not only is it possible to rekindle a romance, but that breaking up can be the best thing you could have hoped for, because “sometimes breakups can be the wake-up calls that relationships need to survive.”
That’s definitely great news, but how do you actually go about winning your ex back? Well, it starts with getting real with yourself about the past.
Think About Why You Really Want Them Back
Before you continue any further, take some time to assess why it is that you are in such a rush to reunite with your ex. Is it because you really care about each other but you needed some time away, or made a rash decision? Or is it because your heart is lonely and you would really prefer not to be alone anymore? If it’s the latter, you should choose instead to move on; otherwise you are setting yourself up for heartbreak when the relationship inevitably falls apart again sooner rather than later.
Be Realistic And Don’t Romanticize The Past
It’s so easy to look back on a relationship with rose-colored glasses, particularly if the breakup is fresh and your heart is hurting. But before you even consider rekindling things, you need to take some time to really think about the relationship, particularly the bad parts. Focus on those and really assess if they are things you can live with and let go of. What about them really got on your nerves? Because if you’re successful in getting back together, those habits won’t have magically disappeared. Have a realistic view of what being with that person is and if, at the end of the day, that’s really what you want.
Consider Why You Broke Up And If It’s Fixable
Why exactly did you break up in the first place? Was it just bad timing? Or were there serious foundational problems that made you incompatible? Did one of you cheat? That can obviously have lingering negative effects moving forward if one (or both) of you can’t let go of the hurt that caused the breakup. If it’s not something you can reasonably fix, or if they just aren’t a good fit, save yourself and them from the pain of another go round.
Reasons Why You Should Never Get Back Together
While some things, even infidelity, can be worked through if you are both equally motivated, there are some times you should never, ever even consider getting back together. Mansini explains that you should give a hard pass to reuniting with exes you have a chronic make up/break up pattern with, as it’s likely caused by a desire to avoid being single rather than a real love connection. The other type of partner she says you should never take back is an abusive one. “If you break up because your partner is abusive, but you miss them and go back in spite of the abuse, that kind of reunion is a bad idea and a time bomb," she says.
Assess Your Odds Of Successfully Reuniting
The next step is to asses the chances that the relationship can be repaired at all. Breakups can do a lot of damage, and sometimes they're irreparable. Also, sometimes people just fall out of love. In that case, your best bet is to try and heal your heart and move on.
So, what are the factors that increase the likelihood of success? According to Mansini, it’s all about the reasons why you split to begin with and where that leaves you both emotionally. “If you and your ex still love and respect each other, it’s a lot easier to win them back than if there’s hate and mistrust,” she says. “For instance, if you’re facing a deal breaker that one of you is willing to compromise on, it’s easier to get back together than if you’re with someone who’s a chronic cheater.”
Do Things To Improve Yourself And Your Self-Esteem
One thing I’ve learned about breakups is that you discover you suddenly have a lot of extra time on your hands. Rather than spending it wallowing, now is the chance for you to do some self-improvement and work on your self-esteem. It takes two people to break up, but sadly the only party you have total control over is yourself, so here is your chance to work on being the best you that you can be. Take into consideration your part in the split; are there some habits, lifestyle choices, or psychological issues you can work on that will not only help you be happier, but improve your chances of making it work with your ex?
Give It Some Time
Speaking of having some time on your hands, you’re going to want to give the breakup some breathing room. That’s good because it gives you time to really consider all of the things above, and also give your ex some time to miss you, experience life without you, and realize it’s a bummer not having you around. I suggest giving it at least a few weeks, if not months. If, at the end of that time apart, you still want to get back together, here’s what you need to do.
Open With A Friendly Text
Go ahead and reach out to your ex with a text. Something friendly, but not to intense. Maybe something referencing a positive memory. Like, say you saw a movie on TV and it reminded you of that day you saw it together, and how much fun it was. See if they reply and gauge their receptiveness. If they seem happy and open to hearing from you, then consider asking them to hang out.
Keep It Light And Friendly
When they agree to hang out, don’t be a wierdo. Keep it light and fun, and don’t rehash the past. Let them soak in the awesomeness that is the new, happier, and improved you. Treat it like a brand new fresh relationship and leave the baggage at home.
Have An Open Conversation About Getting Back Together
If all goes well and it seems like they may be open to the idea of getting back together, have a frank and open conversation with them. Find out if they are actually interested in getting back together. And if they are, you can talk about what to do better as a couple this time around.
Mansini explains that it’s essential for you to apologize and take ownership of the hurts you may have caused:
“Taking responsibility for your part in the break up and your part in the compromises necessary to get back together is a great way to go about improving your chances at a reunion after a breakup. Flowers and make up sex won’t do it. There has to be a real understanding of your part in the break up and a real attempt at empathy and generosity in the getting back together pitch.”
Getting back together isn’t impossible, but it can be hard, especially if you do it right. Give it a lot of thought before you dive in and be ready to do the work if you do get back together. Like Masini says, your breakup may be exactly the wake up call you needed to realize you really do belong together. Good luck!
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