It’s been proven that couples who break up and get back together have higher rates of conflict. Many of us have experienced it in our own lives, seen it in our friends’ lives, as well as in the lives of celebrities (looking at you Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth). But that doesn’t mean that couples who break up are incapable of making their relationship work at another point in time (looking at you Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck). The difference is all in why the partners split in the first place—and whether or not that issue is ever able to be resolved for the health and happiness of a couple the second (or third) time around. If you’ve been asking yourself lately “Should I get back with my ex?,” there are certain circumstances when it is OK to do so, but there are also times when it is absolutely not OK. Read on to know the difference so you can either 1) build a thriving relationship with your ex or 2) save yourself from heartbreak.
When It’s OK To Get Back With an Ex
1. If you broke up because of timing or life circumstances
If one of the main reasons that you and your ex initially split was because of timing or life circumstances (like you got a big promotion at work and didn’t have the time to dedicate to a relationship, for example), and you are both now in a better position to prioritize your relationship, it is absolutely OK to give your relationship another chance. I personally believe that it’s possible to meet the right person at the wrong time, so if you’re lucky enough to get another chance, I say go for it.
2. You’ve both used your time apart to grow
Let’s say that you and your partner met when you were young and you broke up because you both needed to do a little growing or maybe one of you had to take some time alone to figure out what you really wanted out of life. These are both totally normal and common reasons for a breakup that don’t necessarily mean that anything was that wrong with you two as a couple. If your time apart has made you stronger as individuals, odds are that you will be better partners to one another the next time around.
3. You’re both willing to do what it takes to improve what didn’t work before
Sometimes it takes falling apart to fall back together, and while it’s not an ideal situation, it’s also the base of like every rom-com ever. What starts as a whirlwind romance almost always has a moment of weakness, and if it breaks you but you’re willing to do what it takes to make things work, then that’s a good enough reason to try again. If this is the case for you and your ex, focus on communication and showing each other that you’re in it for the long haul this time—no matter what it takes.
When It’s Not OK To Get Back With an Ex
1. If there was infidelity
I don’t necessarily think that “once a cheater, always a cheater” is an accurate or proven statement, but I do know that you can’t build a relationship on a lack of trust, and once trust is broken in a relationship, it’s practically impossible to regain. If there was infidelity in your relationship with your ex, that is going to be a lingering elephant-size problem for the entirety of your relationship. It’s tempting, especially if you loved them, to want to believe that things could be different next time, but in all honesty, the best way to move forward is to do so apart.
2. If you don’t see a future with them
It’s possible that you could have pictured a future with your ex at one point—but if that feeling went away, getting it back is not something you can just will yourself to do. It can be hard to let go of a relationship if there is nothing really wrong with it, but if you don’t see a future with them, why even bother? Getting back into a relationship in hopes that you will feel that spark again is a setup for disappointment, so save yourself and your ex from a second round of heartbreak and move on.
3. If you’re backsliding
Are you considering getting back with your ex because you’re bored, haven’t found anyone else, or because it’s easy? That’s the ultimate form of backsliding—when you go back to an ex like a bad habit even though you know that it’s self-destructive. This happens most commonly when you’ve been broken up for a while and have dated other people. When no one meets your expectations or no relationship afterward has equated to anything, you go right back to someone you know will be there. However, that still isn’t right for you. Delete their number, leave them alone, and move on. And alternatively, if you suspect that this is why your ex is coming back to you, run for the hills.
The Bottom Line
Getting back together with an ex is a complicated decision no matter what happened in the past or what your hopes and promises of a future together are, so our advice is this: Take as much time to yourself as you need to evaluate what really led to your breakup and how you actually feel about getting back together, and consider the do’s and don’ts we explained above. If you are ready to start again and you trust that your ex is too, then have an honest conversation with them about how your relationship can be better this time around. If you are a little nervous about getting back together, trust your gut when making your decision. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you’re happy for the long haul whether you’re together or separate, so make sure that the decision you make adds to your happiness instead of leading you on a path of uncertainty.