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Getting Back with an Ex: How to Know When It’s Right

A woman thinking about getting back with an ex, closing her eyes while she kisses her ex boyfriend.

When any relationship breaks down, it’s a sign that something wasn’t quite right. And while friends and family might tell you to leave the past behind you, you might find weeks or months pass by and you still can’t get the thought of getting back ex off your mind.

After you’ve both had some necessary time apart to reflect, it’s important to get clear on why you want to reunite with your ex partner, so that you avoid taking back someone who simply isn’t right for you or good for you in the long run.  

Here are some important questions to ask yourself when deciding whether you should get back with an ex or not.

Why did you guys break up?
Was it something serious like cheating or abuse? Or was it something significant but fixable, like petty arguments, or losing that initial fire you had for each other?

Certain behaviors and actions are unforgivable, but it’s important to put your physical and emotional health first, and respect yourself enough not to be with someone who treats you poorly.

If the reason for your break up can be resolved by both of you working together as a team, then your relationship has a strong chance of working the second time around.

Have we both made changes and learned our lessons from last time?
It takes two to tango, and it’s highly likely that both of you had a part to play in your break up. When thinking about reconciling, ask yourself if your ex has made the changes needed for your relationship to be stable and happy this time. And have you made some changes, and learned your lesson too?

Both of you should’ve grown and matured from last time, which is what will make the difference the second time around. If you’re both the same people as before and unwilling to make changes, your relationship will be doomed from the start.

That being said, it’s important to accept each other for who you truly are as people. If you’re expecting someone to change in fundamental ways, you’re sending a message that they’re not good enough, and the reality is people can only change to a certain degree.

Have we both recovered from any past hurt?
If you still blame your ex for something that happened or the anger, betrayal, hurt or confusion you’re still feeling, you’re not in a position right now to be in a relationship with anyone.

For your relationship to work this time, both of you need to be able to forgive and forget, leave the past in the past, and not continue to open up old wounds. So if you’re willing to move on, you might have a bright future together.

Are you miserable without each other?
Sometimes all people need is time apart to realize exactly what they’ve lost. If you’ve had sufficient time apart, and you’re both struggling without each other, and you miss each other terribly—it’s probably worth giving it a second chance.

You can’t stop comparing everyone to them.
If you’ve had a chance to start dating other people since the breakup, you might start to realize that those bad habits and traits your ex drove you crazy with are actually tolerable compared to those of the new people you’ve encountered.

So if you’ve been dating a while and you still can’t seem to get your ex out of your head, it’s a strong sign that you should give things another go.

Do you both want the same things?
When two people aren’t on the same page when it comes to the big things in life, the relationship isn’t likely to last because eventually you’ll both end up wanting to go in different directions.

Maybe you want to have a family, and they don’t. Maybe they want to travel and work halfway across the world, and you want to stay put. People do change and grow, especially as they age, but if you’re not aligned with each other in the beginning, it can make for a bumpy, uncertain future together. If you both want the same things, that’s a great foundation to build on.

Are we both willing to give it our all this time?
Relationships are hard work, and they require continuous effort from both people in order to function and blossom. If you’re both willing to give your relationship everything you’ve got this time, you’ve got a shot; but if not, you should ask yourself if your heart is really in it. It takes a whole lot more than love to make a relationship last.

Can you see them in your future?
Many of us stay in relationships that are good for right now, but we don’t think about the future. Is this person right for you in the long-term? Can you see yourself settling down with them, and growing old? Do they fit into the life you imagine for yourself in the next 5 or 10 years?

Don’t fall into the trap of getting back with someone simply because you’re lonely, and want the comfort of a relationship right now. If there’s genuine potential for you two, then it might be worth the risk for you both.

What do your friends and family think?
When you’re considering reuniting with an ex, often you’re too close to the situation to be able to see it clearly or rationally. Asking your nearest and dearest for their honest opinions can be really helpful and insightful on whether or not it’s a good idea.

If everyone around you is pleading with you not to get back with this person, then chances are it’s not a healthy relationship for either of you. But if your loved ones are telling you to go for it already, and your gut is telling you the same, you owe it yourself to give it some real consideration.

Be willing to take things slowly
Rushing back into this relationship without taking time to reflect on it or figure out what went wrong is a recipe for failure. So take as much time as you both need to rebuild the trust, and let things happen naturally. Don’t pressure yourselves to label it or pick up where you left things.

Trust your instincts.
Your family and friends are great to lean on in times of need and get advice from, but the truth is you know yourself better than anyone else does. You know what you need, and deep down you know the kind of person you want to be with. Maybe getting back with your ex is actually a terrible idea, but if something within you is telling you that you’ve got to do this, then this might just be a lesson you’re supposed to learn the hard way.

Most of the time though, when you listen to and trust your instincts you won’t go wrong.

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