Table of Contents Hide
- Why did you break up?
- What was going on for each of you (in both life and the relationship) in the months before the breakup?
- What action have you taken to address these issues?
- What do you want for the future?
- Have you had enough time apart?
- Are you both accountable for what went wrong in the relationship?
- The relationship test:
- What do you each need in the relationship?
- What have your other relationships been like?
- How have you changed?
- What’s your action plan?
- Can you take things slow?
- What shall you do for your second first date?
- Will you be okay if this doesn’t work out?
- Rush Hour Crush – love (well, lust) is all around us
Considering a rekindling? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
News of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck getting cosy a full 17 years after they called off their engagement has brought the ‘should I ever get back together with an ex’ conversation to the fore.
It makes sense that many of us are questioning if a throwback romance is the key to loved-up joy.
Just look at how happy they look! Isn’t it romantic? A reassurance that sometimes, a breakup really is down to right person, wrong time? That perhaps our old flame could be a great love story, finally back on the right track?
Now, it’s important to note that every relationship is different, and while some exes may find genuine happiness in rekindling their romance, others should stay far, far apart.
But if you are considering getting back with an ex, there are some important questions you need to ask.
Ask these of yourself, then bring them to your ex, too – you both need to consider these issues properly.
Why did you break up?
It’s tempting to look back at a past relationship with rose-tinted glasses, remembering only the smooches, the grand gestures, the way they just got you.
But you broke up for a reason. What was it? What problems built up over time, and what was the breaking point?
What was going on for each of you (in both life and the relationship) in the months before the breakup?
Persia Lawson, love coach and author of Love is Coming: How to Find Real Love In A Superficial World, strongly recommends asking this question.
It’s important to look back at the time you split and work out what other factors were at play, beyond the actual relationship.
Perhaps you were dealing with a mental health issue you hadn’t properly addressed, or they were in a job that was causing them high levels of stress.
Take a look at the indirect contributors to the dissolution of your relationship, too.
What action have you taken to address these issues?
Or, in other words, what’s changed? Why won’t you encounter the exact same issues as before?
‘If you want to stack the odds in your favour, you need to re-enter the relationship with your eyes wide open and your wits about you, rather than simply crossing your fingers and hoping for the best,’ Persia tells Metro.co.uk.
If the answer is ‘I haven’t done anything, really’, your next question is what are you each willing to do to make things go differently this time around.
That might be therapy, couple’s counselling, getting help with alcohol dependency… whatever the issue that caused you to break up last time, it can’t just be swept under the rug or dismissed as the past. What have you each done to make sure you don’t fall into the same unhealthy patterns as before?
How have you each changed? (Picture: Getty Images/Metro.co.uk)
What do you want for the future?
Persia says: ‘Are each of you able to articulate what you want for the future (i.e. marriage? Babies? House etc?)
‘Does it match up? If you broke up because you wanted different things and you still want different things, trust me: it won’t work this time around, either.’
Have you had enough time apart?
In the case of Bennifer, there has been plenty of time for the dust to settle, for both parties to grow, and for the couple to come back together in healthier headspaces.
Is that the case for you?
‘You need to have had time to enjoy life outside of the old bubble, to have shed any tears and regrets and to have embraced new possibilities,’ says Neil Wilkie, a relationship expert, psychotherapist, and creator of The Relationship Paradigm.
‘If not, you are still looking at life through the lens of the old relationship.’
Are you both accountable for what went wrong in the relationship?
We know, we know – it’s far more fun to just say it was all your ex’s fault and you were perfect in every way.
But is that totally honest?
Or, on the flip side, do you feel like you’re entirely responsible for ‘winning’ your ex back and making up for past wrongdoing?
Lily Walford, relationship coach, says: ‘Remember it takes two. In our framework that we have created for our clients we talk about the four c’s – communication, compatibility, consideration and collaboration.
‘If you don’t have ALL of these four elements in the relationship then you will struggle to create something that’s healthy.’
The relationship test:
Neil Wilkie recommends doing this test to check in on how great your relationship really was, and how great it is now.
Score each of these elements out of 10 (where 10 is perfect):
- Communication – were you able to talk, express your feelings and be truly listened to?
- Connection – how strong was the feeling of connection or had you drifted apart?
- Commitment – were you both truly committed to the relationship or going through the motions?
- Fun – how much fun did the two of you have together?
- Growth – were the ‘You’, ‘Me’ and ‘Us’ all growing or stuck in a rut?
- Trust – did you trust them totally?
He asks: ‘If many of the scores were seven or below then why would this be better in the future?’
What do you each need in the relationship?
Open communication about your individual needs is going to be crucial in relationship 2.0.
‘Understand what you need to really nourish yourself,’ says Lily. ‘Something obviously wasn’t working in the past, what was it? What is it that you need and what does your partner need?
‘Often communication tends to be the main issue. There’s nothing wrong with having a conversation about the best way to bring things up or how to resolve conflict better. This can be such a huge help in the long run.’
What have your other relationships been like?
Talk about the time you spent apart. Were you really open to other relationships, or did you stay single? Did you date people and see familiar patterns emerging?
You’ll need to discuss this before you dive back in.
Neil says: ‘If they have had a new long-term relationship, how do you feel about having someone else to be compared with?
‘You should also look at how it ended. If it ended badly this can be a warning sign.’
What are you going to do to make this work? (Picture: : Getty Images)
How have you changed?
You’re not the same people you were. Ask yourself if you’re still a good match.
Neil asks: ‘You cannot rewind time to when you first got together, as life has changed and wrinkles appeared.
‘If you shed the past memories, would you find each other attractive?
‘Given the passage of time and changes in interests are you now both compatible?’
What’s your action plan?
Okay, so you’ve acknowledged past issues and established that you’re still keen on each other. Now what?
What exactly are you each going to commit to doing to make this work?
‘It’s good to be proactive to work on how to make things better in your relationship,’ says Lily. ‘It’s easy to fall back into old patterns so make a commitment to each other to do everything you both can to make things work.
‘At least then if things don’t work out, you both feel that you’ve both tried your best for each other.
‘If it does work out, you are going to feel more appreciated by your partner and vice versa, as you’ve both succeeded from making that effort.’
Can you take things slow?
‘As tempting as it can be to dive back into the old familiar routine you were in prior to the breakup, if you want the relationship to have a shot in hell at working, you must go through the courting phase again,’ Persia notes.
‘This gives you both time to see if you could be compatible in the future, and makes it easier to bow out of the dynamic if it turns out that you aren’t.’
What shall you do for your second first date?
‘Treat this as a new relationship,’ Neil suggests. ‘If you both slip back into the “same old” it will be disappointing.
‘This is the opportunity to make a new start, to learn from past mistakes and to create a new and better relationship.
‘If they just want to move their socks back into the same drawer, sit in the same chair and do the same things, will that feel new and exciting or dull and disappointing?
‘Take it slowly and enjoy the journey. Make it fun, romantic and memorable.’
Will you be okay if this doesn’t work out?
It might sound like a bit of a bummer to consider the worst outcome before you even get (re)started, but for your own mental health, make sure you’re in a place where breaking up (again) won’t absolutely destroy you.
Acknowledge that even with all these questions asked and answered, and all the work put in, the relationship still might not work out.
‘In my experience coaching hundreds of women over the last eight years, I have yet to see two ex-partners reunite – and stay reunited,’ says Persia.
‘This is because, when the excitement of the reunion starts to fizzle out (and reality sets back in), all those reasons you broke up in the first place inevitably resurface and you find yourself back in Groundhog day.’
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