Change is hard. We as people are designed not to like change. In fact, our bodies literally fight it. And there are few changes bigger than being single after being in a long term relationship. So sometimes we fight idea of being single and we end up back where we started.
But before you end up back in your ex’s arms, take a moment and answer these questions for yourself.
1. Why did you break up?
Remember that there was a reason why you broke up. Looking back with rose colored glasses, you might not see that reason anymore but it was there and it might still be there. Did someone cheat? Did one of you want kids and the other didn’t? Was it a big fight over something small? Maybe you literally just couldn’t live together. Or maybe you just fell out of love. No matter what it is, force yourself to remember. You need to acknowledge this reason before you can ever consider rekindling any flame.
2. Who did the breaking up?
Did they do the breaking? If so, why do they want to come back? What do they think will be different now? It’s an important question to ask them. If they don’t have an answer, they didn’t really think this through and getting back together with them might not be the best idea.
Did you do the breaking? Then, ask yourself, why am I coming back now? If you don’t have an answer to that, you didn’t think this through and your ex deserves you leaving them in peace. Being dumped is always hard, but it’s much harder when the dumper won’t let the dumpee move on.
3. Were you happy in a relationship with this person?
It’s hard not to look back without a nostalgia filter. In fact, your best option is to talk to other people about this who knew you when you were in a relationship with this person. Did you ever seem happy when you were in a relationship with them? Or did you complain to your friends constantly? It can be hard to see what’s going on in our own relationships, but your friends and family have your back. Listen to them if they’re telling you that your old relationship was toxic and it’s time to move on.
4. Were they happy in a relationship with you?
There are two ways to address this question. The first is going back through your own memories. Look, sometimes people are just bad matches. It’s not an insult to you to say that maybe your partner wasn’t happy with you. Maybe you just didn’t match up very well. There are a million reasons why people might not match up right and it can lead to both partners being depressed. If you remember seeing that your partner wasn’t happy with you, let them go.
The other way is to talk to your ex about their own feelings. Encourage them to talk to their family and friends, to help them remember if they were well and truly happy in the relationship. Their friends might help them break out of that nostalgic reverie.
5. You broke up for a reason. Does that reason still exist?
You might remember your break up being about someone forgetting to empty the dishwasher. It led to a huge fight, someone walked out, and that was that. But really think about what happened. It was never really the dishwasher. Something just finally came to a head and the relationship imploded. Get down to the bare bones of it and think about the real reasons you broke up. There might be more than one.
If the only reasons you can think of were temporary things that seemed big at the time, maybe you both jumped the gun a bit on the break up. But if you have a list of ten reasons and most aren’t going to change, it’s time to think about moving on.
6. Are you just lonely?
Here’s the toughest question of all. Having a partner means that you’re never really alone. That being said, it doesn’t mean you’re not lonely. You can be in the same room with someone, but unless you’re happy and comfortable with them, you’re still going to be lonely. If you’re lonely now, the answer is not to get back together with someone who you might still be lonely with.
My rule has always been that if you broke up, you broke up for a reason and therefore you should stay broken up. But my rule may not work for you. Ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you and right for your former partner. That being said, don’t enter into a relationship with an ex just because you want to be in a relationship. There’s so much more out there!