So You Want To Get Back Together With Your Ex

Well well well — rumor has it you and your ex have found yourself potentially back in your feelings and might be considering dating again. Okay! Interesting! You do you, babe! I’m sure you’re fielding a whole lot of questions and judgements right now, depending on the situation, and probably could use some light guidance without judgement. I hear you! I know the getting-back-with-your-ex life! It may not have worked for me, but it has and can and does work for some. It’s easy to throw caution to the wind and think “fuck it! I do what I want!” and that is fair! But since you’re here, let’s cover some basics, and you can choose to listen to me or do you, that is chill!

Consider: maybe don’t

Listen, I know you didn’t come here to hear that your choice might not be a good one. I just want to give you a few things to consider before you make this decision. Why did you break up before? What wasn’t working? I think it’s extremely important for you, on your own, to process what ended it in the first place. In circumstances where physical distance played a role, or unexpected life stuff came up that was unavoidable and took up time and space that made it impossible to maintain a healthy romantic relationship — these are absolutely valid reasons to have terminated that relationship at the time. Also, very responsible reasons! It would also make sense, then, in these scenarios, that time has passed and things have changed and for one reason or another, you have found yourselves both available to each other again. That all makes sense and I am so happy for you!

If, on the other hand, your relationship ended because you weren’t on the same page emotionally, or your values didn’t align, or there was an imbalance, or someone wasn’t feeling heard, or someone cheated, or someone fucked someone else over, etc etc etc — these are the complicated ones. When feelings that relate to your relationship, specifically, were the catalyst for your breakup? It’s often much harder to understand why and where the need to reconnect is coming from to those from the outside. Maybe even to yourself and your ex. Unpack what’s changed — what shift has been made to make the thing that broke you up in the first place no longer true? How will that play out as your new relationship with each other progresses? Are both of your needs going to be met in a way that they weren’t before, and how can you be sure that is the case? Are you taking their word for it? Have YOUR feelings changed? Have y’all had access to therapy or taken an ample amount of time apart to re-evaluate or done some personal work? There’s a lot to consider! I am still happy for you, if you’re happy! Just really really consider that this didn’t work for some reason before, and it could mean that it won’t work again, potentially for the same reason as before, and that is a bummer.

I know you’re going to do what you want anyway. I get it, I really do! Regardless of if the above speaks to your situation or not, I understand that you are choosing this because for you, right now, it feels right. And I’m not one to argue with what ones heart may want. This guide is still for you! I’m just trying to look out for future you, okay? You’re so worthy of love and reciprocation and a relationship that serves your needs and desires. That’s all!

Make sure you’ve had time and space to make this decision

Are you choose yourself, your well being, and your happiness first and foremost? How soon after your break up has this happened? Have you had time to mourn the relationship? Were you waiting for them to come back? Every situation is different, but knowing that you’ve taken the time without spending that entire time longing, not processing, and waiting hoping wishing they would be yours again — that doesn’t sound like healing or like you really took any space from them at all. How can you know that this time around, it’ll be different or good, when you haven’t even taken time to process the past? If you can, really try and advocate for yourself to yourself, and know that while your feelings are absolutely 100% valid and you do not need to fall out of love in order to grieve you should really be thinking of yourself first, and allowing yourself to recognize the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Consider what your answer is when asked “why?”

You don’t owe an explanation to anyone, but if you don’t have an answer to the question “why,” then how can you know for yourself that it is what you want and need? Maybe no one will ask, and what a relief if they don’t. But in general, those who care for you want to understand. If you cannot answer that question for yourself without feeling defensive, or feeling like it is maybe unfair to be asked, you should maybe take some time to really consider WHY this is your reaction. The people who love you just want the best for you, and want to understand.

Talk about your time apart; leave no stone unturned

Don’t ignore that time apart — no matter the length, you should honor that time. It gave you time to grow, to change, to have experiences outside of each other. Talk about the good, the bad, the ugly, the hard and the happy. If there’s something you feel you should keep from your person, ask yourself why. There are, of course, exceptions to most everything, but I think it’s fair to consider why you might want to keep certain information from someone you are trying to rebuild trust with and where that’s coming from. Consider whether it’s a red flag of what is to come. A check-in may not be owed, but could be very cathartic for everyone involved. It also sets y’all up for direct communication straight out of the gate. Why start on uneven and dishonest footing?

Check in again and again and again

You know what sucks more than breaking up with someone once? Breaking up with them twice, or three times, or maybe more! The more breakups you add the worse it tends to feel! There is, in my humble opinion, no such thing as too much checking in. And anyone who tells you otherwise is NOT WORTH YOUR TIME, okay? Just a quick and easy “hey, you still feeling (this way) about (this situation)?” is chill and fine and does not have to come from a place of insecurity, but from a place of honest and direct communication. On the flipside, coming in with a “I am feeling (this way) about (this thing), how are you feeling?” could be a nice way to present it too! I trust y’all know how to have a check in, but with something so delicate that may feel it is hanging on a thread, it can feel like a check in might rock the boat. Rock that boat a little! That isn’t a bad thing!

Treat this like a brand new relationship

Sure, this is a past flame, and you can’t ignore your past. But picking up right where you left off seems like a surefire way to do more harm than good to you both. To ignore the space, the space you needed for one reason or another, and pretend as if it is a blip – This seems bad, y’all! Try courting each other again. Woo each other like you’re new boo’s, get to know each other all over again. You may find you learn something new or different, hear a story you had never heard before. Sure, where you ended last you spent most of your time together in your pajamas watching netflix, and you can do that too! But this is the start of something new – embrace the newness, don’t fear it!

Restructure what your communication looks like

Communication may not have been the main issue before, but regardless, it’s important to reflect on how you can do better. What didn’t work before? What worked well, and is something you could lean into even more? I, personally, am a huge fan of some very direct communication, but I also have a tendency to react and respond before I have taken time to evaluate and allow myself space to fully process. That is not what everyone I date vibes with, and that is ok! Communication styles can differ, but ensuring that you can recognize each others’ styles, adapt to them, and know that no one person’s style is necessarily right or wrong (at least usually), and have them not ultimately clash are important ways to keep this reignited ball rolling.

I know I know, it sucks to have to think so much about this stuff when you are feeling GOOD and EXCITED about someone! But you want this to work. You owe yourself the time to make sure this is really, truly, what is best for you. That brings us to our last point –

Choose yourself first, always

With all of this said, know that ultimately you are the keeper of your own feelings and if you feel this is where you need to be, then do it! Protect yourself, keep yourself grounded in your experience, and remember that as long as you are happy, the people who love you will be happy for you, even if it takes some time. Always choose you, because you are the person who can make you happiest. You deserve it!

Courtney is a budding sex educator, performer, and writer based out of Portland, Oregon. She spends her time slinging sex toys at the local female-owned queer-friendly sex toy boutique, being a dutiful intern on the podcast Sex on the Brain with sex educator Amory Jane, singing at the nearest variety show, writing way too personal things for the internet, dancing at the queer party down the street and buying lots of cheese. She can be found tweeting about tinder and astrology @courtneykist. She just wants you to have a good time.

Courtney has written 10 articles for us.

14 Comments

    • This is something that high school through college me really could have benefited from.

      I’m not sure I would have listened, but a gentle and nonjudgmental “consider: maybe don’t” and “if you do, here are important things to address” would have been a helpful addition to all the “Have you lost your MIND?”s

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  1. I needed this advice…oh, about a dozen times in my past, at least. I had to laugh at the advice to reflect on the time since your breakup because of all the breakups I reneged on that lasted less than 48 hours. What has changed in that time—? Compulsively throwing oneself back into relationships that seem determined to explode is…..a bad strategy.

    Don’t get back with your ex because you can’t bear to consider anything else. Don’t get back with your ex because you’re blinded with pain and desperation. Don’t get back with your ex because that’s the only comfort you can imagine.

    (I would not have taken this advice when I needed it most)

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