How to Get Back Together With an Ex

  1. How To Get Back With An Ex — 12 Rules for Getting Back Together
  2. 1. Take it slooow.
  3. 2. Figure out what really you want
  4. 3. View it as a new chapter in an old relationship
  5. 4. Talk about what you did when you were apart..
  6. 5. …And why you want to get back together
  7. 6. Listen to your gut
  8. 7. Address old issues
  9. 8. Have a trust chat
  10. 9. Be ready to forgive
  11. 10. Collect your thoughts before bringing them up
  12. 11. Don't expect everyone to be on board
  13. 12. Remember the bottom line: You're still with the same person
  14. Stages Of Getting Back Together With Your Ex
  15. Does Your Ex Want To Get Back Together With You?
  16. Red Flags That Getting Back Together With Your Ex Is NOT A Good Idea
  17. Signs That Getting Back Together With Your Ex IS A Good Idea
  18. Getting Back Together With Your Ex: Moving Forward In The Relationship
  19. 4 Couples Reveal What It’s Really Getting Back With An Ex
  20. Lucy, 30, & Kevin, 41, Dated In Grad School, Broke Up For Four Years, Are Now Engaged
  21. BP, 34, and Matt, 28, Met At Work, Dated For Three Years, Broke Up For Six Months. Now They Own A Farm Together.
  22. Ophelia, 23, & Leviathan, 30, Started Dating, Moved In Together, Broke Up, And Are Now Engaged
  23. Jay, 24, and M., 23, Dated In High School, Broke Up For Seven Years, Are Now Casually Seeing Each Other
  24. Getting back with an ex? Getting back together with an ex
  25. Getting back with an ex
  26. Is getting back with an ex ever a good idea?
  27. Can a broken relationship ever be fixed?
  28. How can you make sure it lasts second time around?
  29. Talk about absolutely everything beforehand
  30. Once you’ve forgiven, forget
  31. If sex (or lack of) was one of the reasons why you split, how can you make sure you don't fall back into a rut the next time?
  32. Is casual sex with an ex is ever a good idea to get you through a drought?
  33. 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Back Together With an Ex
  34. 1. Are you sure, or are you just heartbroken?
  35. 2. What would you tell your best friend if they were in the same situation?
  36. 3. What would it take to fix the problems you had—and are both of you willing to try?
  37. 4. Have you given the breakup enough breathing room?
  38. 5. What are you really afraid of?

How To Get Back With An Ex — 12 Rules for Getting Back Together

How to Get Back Together With an Ex

Ah, the power of the ex. Is there anything more alluring than The One That Got Away? Probably not.

But before you go ahead and try getting back together, remember that life isn't Friends (Ross and Rachel), Sex and the City (Carrie and Big), or Grey's Anatomy (Meredith and McDreamy). The appeal is real…but so is the drama.

It's not really your fault: While you probably broke up for a very legit reason, your desire to rekindle an old flame is pretty normal.

“We are wired for attachment and also for new experiences,” says licensed marriage and family therapist David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center in Chicago.

“When we can have a bit of both by getting back together with a former lover, many of us jump at the opportunity.”

“We are wired for attachment and new experiences…so many of us jump at the opportunity for both.»

And let's face it: Getting back together with an ex is just easier than spending hours swiping through Bumble (and going on craptastic dates).

“We often aren't interested in someone new because we have to get to know someone new and that takes time,” says Terri Orbuch, PhD, author of Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship and professor at Oakland University in Michigan. “When with our ex, we already know what we , don't , and how they act.”

It’s definitely possible to have more success with round two, Klow says—but you need to approach it the right way. Here's how to get back with your ex without making a total mess of it.

1. Take it slooow.

I know, I know. The texts! The dinners! The sex! It's all very exciting that you and your ex are hanging again. But before you go posting couples shots all over Insta and jumping right back into double dates with their parents, take a sec to chill.

There’s no proven formula for what speed you should move at (obviously…who could study that?), but Klow says it can be incredibly helpful to slow down and take a beat before you slap a label on things again. Why? Because you need time to…

2. Figure out what really you want

Orbuch says this is your chance to lay all of your cards out on the table, so don’t be afraid to get real (, really real) about what you need to be happy in a relationship. She recommends asking yourself what your expectations are in a relationship, as well as what qualities you need from a partner.

Was there something major missing before that your partner could actually fulfill this time around? That's an important Q to be able to answer before reconciling. For example, did you feel they took you for granted last time? Didn't know how to speak your love language? That's all fixable on take two.

But if you felt they didn't quite match up in terms of goals and values, that's a different story. (Perhaps you're super ambitious and they're A-okay working at their dad's company with no plans of moving up or taking it over someday—that's ly not going to change tomorrow.)

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You’ll also want to have your deal breakers in mind. “Then share these expectations with your former partner and have your former partner do the same and share the list with you,” Orbuch says. “This is important for all couples to do together, but even more important when you reconnect with a former partner. Be open and honest.”

3. View it as a new chapter in an old relationship

“Yes, you've already dated and know one another, but time changes people,” Orbuch says. “So get to know your former partner again, ask questions, see what they think and feel.”

That said, «it's impossible to have a truly fresh start with someone you've already dated,» notes WH advisor «Dr. Chloe» Carmichael, PhD, a clinical psychologist and author of Dr. Chloe's 10 Commandments of Dating. «It's really important to recognize that this is a rekindling of an old relationship, not the start of a new one.»

When getting back together with an ex, you need to do everything you can to separate fact from fiction and the past from the present. Ask yourself if some of the beliefs you have about this person are the behavior and statements they're making to you now, versus who they were when you initially started dating and things were good.

«Women are especially vulnerable to sticking with their first impressions of people,» explains Dr. Chloe. So check yourself: Is it your mind telling you that this person is your rock-solid? Is that thought what has actually happened in the relationship or are you letting what you want things to be overshadow how things actually were?

If you're having trouble sussing this out, Dr. Chloe suggests try making a timeline of your past relationship, highlighting significant events—both good and bad. This exercise helps you see what your 'ship was actually versus your brain's fantasy of it, and can help you pinpoint times when your ex didn't live up to the image you've made yourself believe.

4. Talk about what you did when you were apart..

Now’s the time to speak up if you were with someone while you two were broken up. You don’t have to go into details. A simple, “I dated someone for a few months” is good enough—unless that someone was his best friend/coworker or anyone else that might trigger hurt or jealousy.

It’s important to at least mention it so that there are no surprises down the road, Klow says. If your guy is upset about it (even though, hello, you weren’t together anymore), then talk about it and address any concerns or fears—and then move on.

5. …And why you want to get back together

Are you frustrated because your last date was a lousy kisser or turned out to be a d-bag, or do you really think there’s something positive and healthy worth pursuing with your ex? If it’s the former, Klow says that’s not a great reason to run back to your ex. But if it’s the latter, go for it.

Remember, settling is still settling, even if it's with someone you've loved before.

You could get back with an ex…or you could just stay friends with them. These celebs did just that:

6. Listen to your gut

If you found yourself ignoring some major issues the last time the two of you were a pair, then Orbuch says it’s important not to let that happen this go'round.

“Perhaps last time you were in the relationship with your ex, you didn't see the red flags or didn't listen to your gut,” she says. “[Maybe] you thought things would change, you didn't believe in yourself or know what you wanted.” If you’re giving it a second chance, be sure you also trust your instincts if things start to backslide again.

You know that little ball of doubt in the pit of your stomach? It's there for a reason…don't ignore it if it comes back or grows.

7. Address old issues

So, heads up: It’s pretty ly that old fights and problems are going to crop up again—it’s best to get ahead of them. You don’t have to reenact your Worst Fight Ever, but you should discuss the issue behind it, plus what you’re going to do to avoid another one of those in the future.

Talking about it when you’re both calm is key, says Klow, since you’re much more ly to get somewhere. “It is important for a couple to build on the past relationship, warts and all,” says Klow.

Note that if your ex is quick to sweep old issues under the rug, «that's probably not a good start,» says Dr. Chloe. Feelings need to be validated—even if the other party doesn't agree with them.

8. Have a trust chat

“Given that the two of you have a past, trust has most ly been broken,” Orbuch says. “In many relationships, breakups occur because one or both of the partner have betrayed the other [in some way]. And trust, once it's broken, is very hard to rebuild.”

Because of that, Orbuch recommends couples looking to rekindle their relationship have a «trust chat,» where you discuss what it means to trust one another and list realistic expectations for the relationship, as well as answer “what is fidelity and what does it mean to each of us as we go forward?”

During this talk, you’ll also want to decide what your definition is of commitment. “These are all questions that should be addressed in any relationship as you move forward, and even more so if you're getting back with an ex,” Orbuch says.

9. Be ready to forgive

Let's say your ex cheated on you, physically or emotionally. You have to be truly willing to give them another chance, says Dr.

Chloe—otherwise you'll end up crucifying them for the past every time you get upset.

(You know what I mean: They forget to call you back, you go on a downward spiral thinking about what they could be doing, then throw their past transgressions in their face when they ask why you're annoyed.)

«It's perfectly normal and okay to have old wounds, but you need to be able to talk about them calmly and respectfully together to avoid an unhealthy cycle of criticism,» Dr. Chloe explains. Keep in mind that forgiveness is a process, and if you're struggling to move forward with it while being with your ex, you may want to hold off for a bit.

10. Collect your thoughts before bringing them up

If you do notice ghosts from you past relationship coming up, it's best not to speak about them the moment they pop into your head, says Dr. Chloe. This makes it all too easy for impulsive and unhelpful arguments to creep up on the reg.

It's much, much better to write in a journal or talk to a friend until you have your thoughts together enough to have something constructive to discuss.

When you know what you want to say, approach it this way: «Here’s what's been on my mind…» or «I could use some reassurance about….»

Always speak up about your feelings, but know that people respond best when it's done in a thoughtful and organized manner.

11. Don't expect everyone to be on board

Just because you’re ready to move on with an ex, that doesn’t mean your family or BFF will be quite as keen on the idea. «They will remember what was bad about your ex,» Orbuch says. “And most ly because you've spoken negatively about the former partner to them, they will bring it up again as you announce to them about getting back together.”

When that happens, Orbuch says it’s important to remember that they have your best interests at heart. She recommends meeting their concerns with this: “I hear you. I understand your concerns and appreciate you telling me.”

Follow it up with the things that have changed about your ex and how you’ve discussed it all. You can also fill them in on your plan moving forward, and keep them looped in along the way.

12. Remember the bottom line: You're still with the same person

Sure, people change, but they’re usually more ly to stay the same. Basically, don’t think that things will be different after the “getting to know you again” stage is over. “It is very common for couples to fall back into the same patterns that they found themselves in the previous time,” says Klow.

«It is very common for couples to fall back into the same patterns…»

Hated their habit of turning into a couch-loving sloth on Sundays? Or not a fan of how your anxiety subconsciously fed off of theirs, turning you into a big ball of stress?

Odds are, you’re going to deal with it again. So make sure they're worth the time and effort. This isn't a TV show after all….Life is short, and you don't get endless reruns.

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Stages Of Getting Back Together With Your Ex

How to Get Back Together With an Ex

There are many different reasons why you might want to get back together with your ex, and it is important to honestly examine all of them so you can decide whether getting back together would be healthy for you. 

Some of the best reasons to consider getting back together include believing that you have both grown in ways that would make you good partners for each other and believing that you could have a healthy relationship if you both put the work in. 

There are also less healthy reasons to consider getting back together. While it is normal to experience some of these, on their own, they may not be good enough justification for pursuing someone as your life partner. 

Some of these reasons include: feeling lonely, missing the good parts of your relationship, feeling afraid that you may not find someone else, and missing the familiarity of your old relationship.

If you find that you are primarily experiencing this second set of reasons for wanting to get back together, it may be a sign that personal growth work with a therapist or coach would be helpful for you.

Remember, these moments of honesty with yourself will lead you to a happier and healthier future.

Does Your Ex Want To Get Back Together With You?

This may be an obvious question, but it’s an important one to consider! Ultimately, we all deserve to be with someone who wants to be with us. If your ex has moved on and is not interested in exploring reunification, you owe it to yourself to do the same.

If you and your ex have decided that you both want to give things another shot, as tempting as it can be to jump right back in where things left off, it’s often a good idea to start off slow.

As eager as you might be to start posting pictures together again or jump right back into your sexual relationship, try to treat the early stages of getting back together as a provisional period of exploration when you can learn how you have each changed during your time apart, figure out what you both want and need from the relationship, and test out whether you’re each willing and able to make necessary changes.

Depending on how long it’s been since your relationship ended, there may be more or less for you and your former partner to catch up on during this exploration phase. Here are some helpful questions to discuss with your ex as you explore what getting back together might look for you:

  • What are some of the insights you’ve had about why our relationship didn’t work out before? What do you think were some of my and some of your contributions to the problem?
  • What are some of the important experiences you’ve had and lessons you’ve learned since we were last together?
  • What would you want to be different in our relationship this time around?
  • How do you think we could make sure those things would be different?

Discussing these questions with your ex can help you each figure out whether you’re looking for the same things as well as how successful giving your relationship another go is ly to be.

For example, if your ex has a hard time taking responsibility for their contribution to what went wrong in your relationship or if the things they have learned about what they value in a relationship seem fundamentally different from what you are looking for, these may be signs that giving things another go won’t be as successful. 

However, if they are able to engage in an insightful conversation about some of these questions and express a willingness to take concrete steps such as participating in relationship counseling or coaching, these may be signs that your relationship can be more successful this time around.

Red Flags That Getting Back Together With Your Ex Is NOT A Good Idea

As you move through the provisional exploration phase of getting back together with your ex, here are some additional warning signs that the relationship may not be headed for success:

  • When it comes to making things better, it’s all talk and no walk. It’s always easier to talk about the things that need to change in order for the relationship to improve than to actually do them. If you realize that the promise of getting back together was so alluring to either you or your ex that one or both of you committed to making more changes than you were ready to ( committing to doing couples counseling but then complaining about going), it’s a sign that you may need to re-evaluate getting back together.
  • You realize that the fantasy of being back together is better than the reality. Often when we have a break-up, we conveniently forget all of the bad stuff about our former relationship and instead fantasize about how wonderful it would be to get back together. If you find that, once you are back together, the fantasy was better than reality, you may need to re-visit questions about what is solvable and what you are willing to accept.
  • You or your partner keep bringing up past mistakes. Relationships end for a reason, and it’s ly that you and your ex hurt each other’s feelings in the past. If you find that you or your partner keeps bringing up mistakes from when you were together previously, it’s ly that those past mistakes haven’t been completely forgiven. Re-evaluate whether you have each fully apologized to each other for past hurts and whether you believe that full forgiveness will be possible in your situation.

Signs That Getting Back Together With Your Ex IS A Good Idea

On the opposite side, here are some additional “green lights,” or signs that your relationship is on the right track and is changing for the better:

  • You and your partner have been able to identify specific goals to improve your relationship and are actively working towards achieving them. For example, if one problem you experienced in your prior relationship was feeling as though you were never on the same page, one new habit you might be developing together is eating together at mealtimes without any distractions such as phones or the TV.
  • For the issues that you know you would to improve but are having a hard time handling on your own, you have found a relationship therapist or coach and are actively working with them. Having a hard time making changes on your own doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed–we all need an outside professional opinion sometimes. As a relationship therapist, I often have couples come to me who have the right intentions but need a little help gaining insight and finding personalized strategies and action plans that work for them.
  • You are both actively working towards your own personal growth. The healthiest relationships are ones where both partners are actively working towards personal growth in order to become better partners rather than casting the responsibility for change and improvement on one person. 

Getting Back Together With Your Ex: Moving Forward In The Relationship

Once you both feel confident that your relationship is heading in a healthy new direction, the provisional exploration phase is over. Communicate openly and regularly with your partner about when you each feel ready to shift from “trying things out” to “making it official.

” You don’t need to wait until the relationship is perfect, but should wait until you each understand and agree on what went wrong the first time around, what each of your contributions to the problems was, what you want to be different this time, and are taking concrete steps individually and as a couple to make those changes.

Making the decision about whether to get back together with an ex can be difficult, but through open self-reflection and honest conversation, you have the power to make a decision that will be healthy for you.

Also, remember that it can be very worthwhile to ask for help from a professional.

Whether you are deciding whether to get back together with your ex and want to bounce your ideas and feelings off of someone or you and your ex have decided to give it another go and want help creating an action plan for change, don’t be afraid to seek out help.



4 Couples Reveal What It’s Really Getting Back With An Ex

How to Get Back Together With an Ex

My best friend’s parents dated in their teens, spent their twenties on different coasts, then reunited in their thirties to tie the knot, buy a house, and start their family. Their love story was, and still is, a glimmering hope my friends and I call upon during our own messy breakups.

As we put our ex’s stuff in cardboard boxes, and watch old lovers charge their new flames for sushi on Venmo, we take solace in knowing, maybe this isn’t actually The End. Sometimes — as Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s high-profile reunion has illustrated this year — what you need to really be together is a little time apart.

Or in their case, a lot of time apart.

After weddings, kids, divorces, movies, and one iconic Superbowl halftime show, the Hollywood Star-crossed lovers found themselves back together, and eventually on J.Lo’s grid. Now that Ben’s been spotted reportedly shopping for rings, Bennifer 2.

0 is proving recycled relationships really do have the potential to be different the second time around.

Yet Anita Chlipala, couples counselor and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, explains that for a reunited relationship to work, all parties involved must agree to change the dysfunctional patterns that led to the breakup in the first place.

“What did they do during the time they were apart?” Chlipala tells Bustle. “If they don’t do any work to improve their relationship, a break is not going to do any good.”

As the Joni Mitchell song goes, sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Being alone, or just having time apart from an ex, may help you realize things you took for granted or didn’t appreciate enough in the relationship, Chlipala says.

Additionally, if you two split because you were in different stages of life, time apart may allow you to catch up to each other — or at least develop better communication skills.

From reunited high school sweethearts to reconnected dog parents, Bustle spoke to four couples who got back together after time apart, and how they changed in the interim.

Lucy, 30, & Kevin, 41, Dated In Grad School, Broke Up For Four Years, Are Now Engaged

Lucy and Kevin met in biology graduate school in 2013 and started dating the following summer.

“We dated until early October, at which point he broke up with me, saying he needed to figure his life out,” Lucy says. “He was feeling he wasn't going to make it in science.

” Shortly after the breakup, Kevin dropped the grad program and moved in with a new girlfriend. “I was heartbroken,” Lucy says. “It really shook me up.”

As she finished her Ph.D., Lucy knew furthering her career meant moving far from the area. She dated casually, having temporary flings. But she still questioned what happened with Kevin.

“It nagged at me, why had he broken up with me, [saying that] he didn't want to get serious with someone, only to get super serious with someone not long after? What was wrong with me? What was wrong with him?” she says.

Yet, in 2018, after finally watching a TV show that Kevin had always suggested about a couple that gets back together after years apart, Lucy messaged Kevin, and the conversation started slow.

As they started talking more, Lucy laid it all on the table. She asked why he called things off with her just to move in with someone else. He admitted he thought he wasn’t good enough for her and consequently self-sabotaged their relationship fear.

“I told him it was unfair for him to decide for me that he wasn't good enough — I thought he was good enough — and further, it wasn't fair to his girlfriend at the time to make her his second choice that.”

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, clinical psychotherapist and author of Smart Relationships, says that being transparent, even if it’s uncomfortable, is imperative for rebuilding your relationship even stronger.

“Explain to yourself key questions — what was going on in each of our lives when we met? Was either one of us over-correcting?” Dr. Wish tells Bustle.

“One of the scariest tasks in life is to undergo honest, deep, emotional self-examination.”

Later in 2018, Kevin parted ways with the other girlfriend. Being honest about his insecurities ultimately made him more confident, and soon Kevin started building a life that made him feel good about himself — including being with Lucy.

“We started dating again, and the rest is history,” she says. “In fall 2020, he proposed, incidentally, six years to the day after he broke up with me. We were married in late June of this year. I couldn't be happier, honestly.”

BP, 34, and Matt, 28, Met At Work, Dated For Three Years, Broke Up For Six Months. Now They Own A Farm Together.

For BP, time apart from her long-term partner Matt allowed her to focus on getting the mental health care she needed and develop healthy coping mechanisms on her own. With these healthy changes in place, the couple had a more solid ground to rebuild their relationship.

The couple met working at a grocery store when BP was 28. After exchanging numbers and Matt sending some rhyming texts, the pair went on a date, and immediately hit it off. They happily dated for three and a half years, when BP got a big promotion. The new job brought a lot of pressure, 50+ hour workweeks, and a 45-minute commute. On top of all that, BP hit a deep depressive episode.

“When [we were] discussing moving to be closer to my work I felt his hesitancy,” she said. “I asked if I should be looking for a place to move myself, and he said yes.”

For the next six months, the pair split up and lived separately, though they met up to care for the two dogs they had together.

When an accident totaled BP’s car, she stayed with Matt to heal up. As she physically recouped from the accident, BP prioritized her mental health as well.

“I got mental health help and worked really hard on healing the hurting pieces within myself that were broken,” she says. “When I thought I could do right by him I told him directly that I wanted to be back together.”

The pair took it slow and started going on dates again. “It was we had taken this great refreshing time, then started again with new zeal, BP says. “We made a goal to buy a farm together, and it’s been great ever since. We've been together for six and half years now, and are still very much in love.”

Dr. Wish explains that over time, everyone’s lifestyles and values change. Getting back with an ex, and really making it stick, demands being in tune with your priorities.

If there were specific reasons you broke up the first time, you should be able to identify concrete changes that you and your partner have made to address those core issues, according to Chlipala. “There should be something — a different way of thinking, healthier beliefs — growth that can better the relationship.

” Did they start therapy or antidepressants? Did you have a job change that allows you more free time? “You should be able to answer, in detail, ‘What will be different this time around?’” she says.

Ophelia, 23, & Leviathan, 30, Started Dating, Moved In Together, Broke Up, And Are Now Engaged

Ophelia (they/she), and Leviathan (they/them) have always had a polyamorous relationship. The time they spent apart wasn’t so much about seeing other people as it was learning to better communicate with each other.

“We met through a mutual friend at a Halloween party,” Ophelia says. “I was actually dating the host, and my partner had dated them in the past. My partner and I started officially dating about a month and a half later, and were together a little over a year and a half.”

When Ophelia moved in with Leviathan and their roommates, tension arose. The pair wasn’t ready to live together and struggled to mediate normal relationship conflicts. “We broke up because we couldn’t communicate super well,” Ophelia says. “We both have trauma from past relationships that made it difficult for us to understand each other.”

After moving out, and spending a couple of months apart, the pair started talking again, diligently trying to be patient and compassionate when they spoke.

Nicole Richardson, LMFT and couples counselor, describes entering a relationship with a renewed sense of accountability, expressing the importance of self-awareness and compassion in moving forward.

“Know what your part was in the demise of the relationship and be willing to take accountability for that as well as work to address it,” Richardson tells Bustle. “Expect your partner to give you the same thing. If they are not willing or able to take accountability for their part and work to understand your perspective, the second chance is doomed from the start.”

For Ophelia and Leviathan, owning their mistakes and finding better ways to deal with conflict in their relationship allowed them to move forward.

“We being together and agreed to put in the effort to make this a successful relationship,” Ophelia says. “Kind of a ‘this will be hard but you’re worth that.’ We’ve been together almost two years since then, and got engaged in May.”

Jay, 24, and M., 23, Dated In High School, Broke Up For Seven Years, Are Now Casually Seeing Each Other

Being realistic about what each partner is able to give while still being flexible has helped high school sweethearts Jay (they/them) and M. (they/them) reunite.

The pair met in high school in 2012 playing competitive tennis. Though they went to different schools, they were top players in their respective leagues. They got to know each other from tournaments and championships, and ended up dating for about a year.

Though they were young, Jay remembers how safe M. made them feel. Even as teenagers, the pair could talk about gender and identity, childhood trauma, and goals they both had for the future.

Citing the pressure of competitive tennis, college in different cities, and family tension as contributing factors to the breakup, Jay says they never stopped thinking about M.

— even after years of not talking, and living far away from each other.

But a new Lorde record finally releasing after so many years, the spark reignited. Months into the COVID pandemic, M. started reacting to Jay’s Instagram stories about their at-home workouts.

The DMs turned to texts that eventually turned to long FaceTime calls, ending when the sun started to rise.

After a few weeks of talking, the pair tried to make their reunion official but found the distance between them made it difficult.

When getting back together with an ex, Chlipala encourages this type of self-awareness and transparency.

“You both have to be very open and honest about what it is that you want and where you can be flexible,” she says. “You also have to be very specific so that you know what you’re signing up for.”

For now, they enjoy being back together in a more fluid, casual sense. They have date nights, steamy weekend getaways, and focus more on having fun together than fitting into each other’s plans.

Jay has a steady 9-5, a dog, their own apartment, and are saving up to buy a house. M., on the other hand, took time off school and has been doing odd jobs and living in different sublets across the west coast. They’re not as structured as Jay, and not as ready to settle down. Because the pair is in different places, starting a Serious Monogamous Relationship wasn’t in the cards.

​​”We tried, but due to being in different places in our lives it just wasn’t possible to maintain a ‘relationship,’” Jay says. “We’re not officially dating. We’re close though. “I guess you’d label it a ‘situationship.’ I don’t know, it works for us.”

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Getting back with an ex? Getting back together with an ex

How to Get Back Together With an Ex

«Never look back» That's what they say, right? And most of us fully subscribe to this.

Exes are exes for a reason, aren't they? And up until a few years ago, I was the world's biggest advocate of leaving the past in the past.

I've never stayed friends with an ex and I'd certainly never considered getting back with an ex. Especially not after going through the rigmarole of getting over a break up. Hell no.

Whenever friends who'd broken up with their partners had a wobble, or said they missed them, I became their relationship drill sergeant — constantly reminding them why it had all ended and why they were so much better off without… And then I got back together with one of my exes. I know, it pains me to say it out loud.

Not because they're the worst person on earth and I was ashamed, but because I went back on my word.

My point is: it's easy to claim revisiting a former relationship is a bad idea and to dish out advice to your pals you're the moral compass of the group, but when it happens to you, you realise actually it's not always such a ridiculous notion.

Getting back with an ex


I won't go deep into the reasons we broke up the first time. But our relationship just seemed to come to a natural end.

After being friends for 10 years and then finally getting together, our lives had been running parallel for so long and then one day, we were just off in different directions.

We were young, and had other shit going on that at the time that was more important than our relationship.

For two years, we didn't speak. Both of us saw other people, had casual sex things, and I even had a year-long relationship. And then we accidentally reconnected (cheers Tinder, you absolute LAD) and it just seemed right. Sure, fine, yep, I'll admit it: we aren't together anymore. But was getting back together the most stupid decision I ever made? I don't think so…

Lovehoney's sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight says getting back with an ex can work out. But, she says, there are five key questions you need to ask if you're determined to rekindle a former relationship.

Is getting back with an ex ever a good idea?

Never say never, sometimes a little space is all you need, Annabelle says. «However, always go back into a past relationship with open eyes — ignoring previous problems in the hope that everything will be wonderful this time around is just asking for trouble.

If you're about to reignite an old flame it’s a good idea to take some time to evaluate what went wrong the first time around.

For most cases the phrase ‘flogging a dead horse’ comes to mind — however there's always an exception to the rule and new research shows that more and more couples are making it work with an ex.»

But, if you’re having thoughts about getting back together with an ex, the most important thing is to be honest with yourself, says Natasha Briefel from Badoo.

«Why is it that you want to get back with your ex? Do you truly miss them and want to be together? Or do you just want somebody to chat to or a familiar face to comfort you? Have you had enough time to see what else is out there, and get to know other people? Perhaps you’re longing for love after over a year in lockdown? It’s crucial to think about your intentions before you make that step, and to consider your ex’s feelings, too.»

Can a broken relationship ever be fixed?

This depends on the couple, says Annabelle. «If two people are willing to work hard, forgive and nurture their relationship, then it definitely can work. Both partners need to be completely on the same page and the lines of communication need to be well and truly open.»

How can you make sure it lasts second time around?

So before you embark on your journey to second chance city, there are a few key things to consider.

Kevin Kozicki

Talk about absolutely everything beforehand

Annabelle says it’s a bad idea to get back with an ex if there’s any unfinished business hanging over your heads. «If there was a particular reason why your relationship failed previously then it’s a good idea to establish some mutually agreed ground rules about certain behaviours beforehand.»

Natasha says that in terms of approaching the topic — it can feel daunting, especially if you’re not sure how that person feels.

«The best way to do so is just to be upfront and honest about how you’re feeling, and what exactly it is that you want — whether it’s picking back up where you left off, or starting over and trying again. Clear communication is key.

Remember also that your ex might need some time to think about it, so avoid going into the conversation with any immediate expectations — allowing your ex this opportunity will be beneficial to you both, so that you know you’re both making the right decision.»

Once you’ve forgiven, forget

«You absolutely must leave the past in the past, learn from it by all means but don’t bring it up in the heat of an argument. Opening up old wounds for the sake of a quick win will only damage your chances of making things work. To try again you must be willing and able to move on if you’re to have any hope of having a future together,» Annabelle says.

«Most second chance relationships fail because couples assume they can just slip back into the way things were. It’s really important to nurture this relationship just as you would with any new romance,» she adds.

Natasha says to remember that if your ex isn’t on the same page, «there’s always someone else out there who wants to get to know you for you, and who you can make a new honest connection with.»

If sex (or lack of) was one of the reasons why you split, how can you make sure you don't fall back into a rut the next time?

Keeping things fresh in the bedroom can be difficult; again, talking to one another is crucial when it comes to sex.

This can be the most painful part of any reconciliation as no one wants to hear (or tell) home truths when it comes to sex. Sadly, the only way you can have better sex is to be honest.

Be more adventurous as a couple, even if for you that means something such as a new position or change of scenery or experimenting with sex toys for couples.

Javier Zayas Photography

Is casual sex with an ex is ever a good idea to get you through a drought?

If both you and your ex are on the same page then there really shouldn’t be a reason why you can’t go back for some fun once in a while. In saying that, this is rarely the case.

In my opinion it’s best to stay away: if you’re just after a bit of fun, then download Tinder.

Avoid any situations where people could potentially get their feelings hurt, no matter how little harm you think it can do at the time.

«The only way you can have better sex is to be honest»

A survey of 1,000 people by Lovehoney found 43% of women and people with vaginas had had sex with ex while they were looking for a new partner — the main reason was because they missed physical intimacy (42% of respondents). And almost a third (31%) said they had sex with the ex because they hoped to get back together with their former partner.

Whatever you decide to do: think it through, talk it out and go in with your hearts and minds fully open.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Back Together With an Ex

How to Get Back Together With an Ex

My ex and I broke up, the first time, after I discovered he’d been carrying on an email affair. This was senior year of college—we’d been dating since we were freshmen—and when I confronted him, he said he needed to figure out who he was without me.

He spent the next few months getting drunk and throwing things off the roof of his house, mostly beer cans, once a pumpkin, launched venomously into a snowbank while I shouted at him through the window.

We spent the next four years breaking up again, and again, and again, until we broke up for good when—surprise!—he cheated on me for what became the final time (although I would have taken him back that time, too, if he hadn’t fled our apartment with all his belongings while I was town).

All of that is to say: Whether or not we’ve met (hi!), I have strong opinions about whether you should get back together with your ex.

I have eight years worth of strong opinions, eight years of self-flagellation, eight years of mental gymnastics performed to justify and excuse so much bad behavior and poor decision-making on both our parts.

Breakups are not a bad hair day; they do not just happen. If you’ve undone your relationship, in other words, you didn’t do so by accident.

And yet. The very woman to whom we owe the glorious rat-nest of glamour that is this website got back together with her ex, and rather successfully so.

As Leandra rightly says, “every relationship is its own breathing organism,” and so, as much as I’d to, I can’t dish out slaphappy relationship ultimatums in good conscience.

So instead, I’d to offer some questions that I think are worth posing before you backslide into your ex’s DMs.

1. Are you sure, or are you just heartbroken?

Breakups can be liberating and restorative, but they are almost always sad, and being sad is hard. Very few of us would choose it for ourselves. Sadness is staying out in the cold when there’s a friend waiting by the fire with a warm drink. We’ve evolved to run toward that warmth.

The rub? In the case of a breakup, that means running right back to the relationship. The breakup hurts! You want to feel better! Ergo, undo breakup! Getting to the other side of the sadness may take years. In my case, shaking the sad meant therapy, a new city, a cliché tattoo, lots of crying on the subway, and a drastic haircut.

So if you’re questioning whether you should get back together, ask yourself: Am I sure I made a mistake, or am I just heartbroken right now? If it’s the latter, make yourself your favorite snack. Drink a glass of water. Call a friend. If you haven’t been outside today, walk around the block, and then keep walking.

Let your own two legs carry you a bit further than they could yesterday. Do any number of things that help you lift the veil, and then reevaluate.

2. What would you tell your best friend if they were in the same situation?

While no one can truly know what goes on behind the closed doors of a relationship, it can be helpful to ask yourself what you’d advise your best friend if they were you.

Was the breakup a long time coming, or a heat-of-the-moment decision? Are you full of regret, or nurturing a kernel of relief? We treat our friends with far more compassion than we treat ourselves, so if you’d tell your friend to give themselves a chance to breathe through the pain and see how they feel in the morning, maybe you should take your own advice.

And if your own friends respond to the breakup with a relieved sigh? Take that response to heart. Your ex may have wonderful qualities, but it’s worth asking why you’re the only one who sees them.

3. What would it take to fix the problems you had—and are both of you willing to try?

I am a vocal supporter of therapy of all stripes, but especially couples’ therapy, which has been a revelation for my marriage. When my ex and I were in the throes of what would become our last breakup, I sought out a therapist for us.

She ended up being my therapist, because my ex refused to walk through the door. You’d think that would have been enough, but I was making excuses for him right up until the bitter end.

That’s all to say that if your ex seems to want to get back together but is simultaneously unwilling to put in the hard work required to repair the broken parts (or vice versa)—well, that’s an answer in and of itself.

On the other hand, if your ex is right there in the trenches with you for the long haul? The advice of a neutral third party has the potential to unlock a new and better way of being together.

4. Have you given the breakup enough breathing room?

If you’re considering getting back together with your ex, give it a week. And then another week. And then one more. Think of it a 30-day return policy (or maybe even 90): You need some time to shake off the relationship cobwebs before you’re able to see clearly.

Honor whatever confluence of feelings and events caused the breakup—and the strength it took to walk away—by taking the time to evaluate whether getting back together feels truly right, or if it just feels easy.

Your relationship is not a flash-sale clearance sweater; if you and your ex are both committed to giving it another try, it will still be there when you come to that decision—together, and with the accumulated knowledge and experience won during your time apart.

5. What are you really afraid of?

I still dream about my ex, often. Last night he was renovating an apartment, and as I followed him through the vast space I realized none of his design decisions included me. He was callous and cold, and I knew I would be forever unhappy, and I begged him to let me stay anyway.

What becomes clear in these dreams is that I was more afraid of being miserable alone than I was of being miserable together. My desire for a relationship eclipsed my ability to see that we had long outgrown each other. These dreams, I think, are my way of working that out again and again; of trying to help me acquaint myself with loneliness.

I spent almost five years ostensibly single before I met my now-husband. I didn’t love being single, but by then I loved myself enough to know that I wouldn’t accept any less than a true partner, a good person, the kind of love I knew I was capable of giving.

Letting fear guide your decisions is a way of getting smaller and smaller as a person, until there’s very little of you left at all.

The vast unknowable on the other side of your relationship is terrifying, yes, but it can also be brilliant, an aurora borealis of newness and light, tap dance lessons and the weird shoes your ex hated, a solo vacation where you forget your passport on a train only to have it returned by a kind stranger. Maybe your ex will be a part of that life; maybe they won’t. But you’ll be there either way, living, guided by nothing less than your own brave heart.

Graphic by Lorenza Centi.


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