Relationships can bring so much excitement, warmth, and security, which is why they can hurt so much when they end. During the aftermath of a breakup, it’s very common to wonder if we even made the right decision. If you have ever asked yourself, “Should I get back with my ex?” then continue reading. Here are some strategies to help you gain clarity.
Why Did the Relationship End?
When assessing whether you should get back with your ex, first take some time to reflect on why the relationship even ended. Imagine that you are doing a book report, and the relationship is the “story.” To the best of your ability, describe the factors that led to the relationship’s end. Some factors could include safety, infidelity, trust, money, differing beliefs, and/or physical location. Here’s an example of treating the breakup as a “book report.”
Maria and Carla met three years ago in college. Within their first year of dating, Maria expressed a strong desire to travel the world, while Carla often discussed a longing for a stable community. The couple was able to hand wave their differing views while in college, but struggled to reconcile their differences post graduation. After a year of trying to compromise their living situation after college, the couple decided to break up.
This is simply one example of why a breakup occurred. Take time to reflect on why yours happened. Once you have done that, move on to the next part.
What’s Going to be Different This Time?
If you were to get back with your ex, ask yourself this question: “What’s going to be different this time around?” Once again, breakups can be hard due to the love, excitement, and security that we may have felt during the relationship. It makes sense to want more of that. At the same time, what is the likelihood that reentering the relationship will yield a different outcome? To be clear, sometimes a different outcome can happen, which is why it’s so important to reflect on the factors that ended the relationship.
Simply put, some factors have a higher chance of yielding a different outcome. For example, if your breakup happened because one person wanted children and the other did not, would getting back together change the core issue? The same could apply for domestic abuse, emotional manipulation, or a disagreement in relationship structure (e.g., one person wanting monogamy, the other wanting polyamory). Meanwhile, there are breakup factors that have the potential to be remedied if you were to get back with your ex. For instance, perhaps the relationship would no longer be long-distance, or that the person can now afford their own place. If you think that this applies to you, there’s one question to ask yourself, “What am I going to do to make things different?” After all, we only have control over our own actions, and if we do nothing, nothing changes.
What Am I Going to Do to Make Things Different?
While some reasons for a breakup leave little hope for a successful second attempt, factors such as infidelity, poor communication, or sexual compatibility are murkier. With these types of factors, earnestly ask yourself what you and your partner(s) plan to do to overcome the initial obstacles. Create a list of ways to address the reasons for the breakup, and most importantly, make sure that each item is realistic and doable. Instead of saying, “We’ll just communicate more,” write down concrete ways in which that will actually happen. Couples therapy every week, monthly check-ins, or a required reading list about infidelity are all concrete examples. To make this more clear, here is an example using Maria and Carla from earlier.
Attend couples therapy at least twice a month
Carla will schedule at least three out-of-state trips with Maria every year
Maria will join Carla in volunteering with at least one project in their town
At the end of every month, Carla and Maria will check in with each other regarding their needs
Sometimes, getting back with your ex can yield a positive outcome. However, that won’t just happen; change is required. If you cannot create a list or foresee you or your partner(s) following through with it, then you likely have your answer on whether you should get back with your ex.
Identify Your Motivations
Lastly, one way to figure out whether you should get back with your ex is to reflect on your motivations. Be completely honest with yourself, and think about what’s driving you to reenter the relationship. Here are simply some motivations to consider.
I want the pain of the breakup to go away
I miss sex
I sincerely feel as though I made a mistake
I have struggled to find someone that made me feel the way that I did with my ex
I miss having someone to cuddle with
I’m still in love with my ex
Once you have identified your motivations, ask yourself whether the ex is the best or only person to satisfy those needs. For instance, is it possible to get what you’re looking for from friends or family members? Only you can answer that question, but you have to be honest with yourself. For example, sometimes we just want to feel the fun and security of a relationship, and sometimes our bond with a person is truly irreplaceable. Even if it were the latter, it is still important to incorporate the earlier questions: why did the relationship end, and what’s actually going to be different this time around?
Breakups can be hard, painful, and confusing. It’s only natural to wonder, “Should I get back with my ex?” When it comes to this type of assessment, self-reflection and time are extremely important tools. If you’ve given yourself weeks or even months of conscious contemplation, and you’re still unsure on whether you should get back with your ex, individual therapy could be beneficial. Schedule a therapist online at therapyinphiladelphia.com.