Most people have at least one ex they'd never, ever, ever get back together with, but it's also pretty likely that there's someone in your past you feel you have unfinished business with. Whether your relationship lasted months or years, it's nothing to be ashamed of if a part of you has trouble moving on and wants to rekindle your romance. Nevertheless, it's unwise to recklessly dive back into getting back with an ex — after all, things probably ended for a good reason. Whatever your history, there are a lot of factors to consider when you ask yourself: Should I get back together with my ex?
As you grow and change as individuals after a breakup, it's possible that you'll realize your relationship really wasn't a good fit — and you'll be able to move on properly. However, that's not always the case, and you might find yourself thinking that your ex could be the partner you need after all. People break up for all kinds of reasons — infidelity, timing, career goals — and there's no written rule about what is and isn't irreconcilable. That's for the two of you to decide. All you can do is check in with yourself and with each other to make sure that you're not getting back together for the wrong reasons.
I spoke to Pella Weisman, Dating Coach and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, to find out how you can self-reflect before you and an ex consider giving the relationship a second go. "There are some really good reasons to stay away from an ex," she tells Bustle. Be aware of what these might be, and ask yourself these seven questions before you jump back into a relationship.
1. Are The Issues That Caused Us To Break Up Resolved?
Though it may seem like this is a big no-no, Weisman says it's OK if some issues remain unresolved. "According to the well-known couples researcher Dr. John Gottman, 69 percent of relationship conflict is about perpetual problems — and ALL couples have them," she says. "It's inevitable that there are ongoing issues in any relationship, and this is OK (although not easy), as long as they are things you can live with. If the issues are problematic, be honest with yourself about this. Even better, get an outside perspective from someone you trust."
2. How Can We Improve Our Communication?
There's no skill more vital to a relationship's success than honest, open, and healthy communication. "Many couples have problems communicating about conflict, especially if each partner has a different communication style," Weisman says. Thankfully there are tons of resources out there — from books to workshops to therapists — all of which can provide tools and teach skills to communicate better with your partner." If you tended to have heated arguments last time around, it's crucial that the two of you find a new way to approach disagreements in a respectful, calm way.
3. Am I Willing To Work On The Relationship?
Needless to say, it's the ugly truth that a second-time-around relationship is going to take a lot of work. "It's important to be honest with yourself about whether or not you have the commitment and energy to do the hard work to improve your relationship," Weisman says. "You should feel confident that there is a renewed commitment on both ends to working things out and that this is possible. Otherwise, you're bound to repeat the same break-up pattern again in a few months or years."
4. Is Your Partner Willing To Work On The Relationship?
Similarly, your partner should also be able to clearly communicate the desire to work on the relationship with you. It's a two-way street, and — regardless of who did the dumping last time — you're both equally responsible for making things work this time. Think of it as an entirely new relationship: There should be no tit-for-tat tallying of 'good' and 'bad' behaviors. Start with a clean slate and be upfront about your problems, but also keep an eye out for past problems bubbling back to the surface.
5. Were There Red Flags I Ignored Last Time?
Particularly if the breakup was recent, you might be tempted to focus on the catalyst of the breakup, and ignore other things that were off in the relationship. For example: You broke up because your partner cheated, and have decided you're ready to forgive him or her and move on. But were there other, underlying issues or behaviors that might be red flags? Take the time to honestly reflect on all the aspects of your relationship before you decide if it's worth rekindling.
6. Did We Both Sincerely Try To Move On?
Never get back together with someone just because you're lonely or feel like you'll never find anyone else. There's this thing called the sunk-cost fallacy that applies to relationships: If you spend a lot of time with someone, you might start to think you're better off sticking with that one person, even if it's bad, just because you've already given so much of your time to him or her. If this is part of the reasoning you have for getting back together with an ex, it may be time for some serious self-reflection. It's never too late to find someone new and wonderful, regardless of how much time you've wasted on a sh*tty ex.
7. Can We Both Trust Each Other Fully Again?
A relationship is nothing without a solid foundation of mutual trust. If there was infidelity in your relationship last time around, you need to ask yourself if both of you feel that the trust can be rebuilt. For many, cheating is a permanent deal-breaker, but everyone's different, and can forgive things others may not understand or be able to. Whatever the case is, make sure that you're getting back together with the understanding that you both trust one another, regardless of your past. Don't ignore bad or untrustworthy behavior, but don't get back together if you're going to be mistrustful right off the bat.
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