Break Up or Make Up? What to Consider Before Reconsidering Your Ex

A broken heart with a needle and thread stitching it back together.When a couple breaks up, it is often inevitable that one or both of the parties involved consider the idea of getting back together. After a breakup, it’s often easier for us to look back on the failed relationship with nostalgia, remembering the good times we had and dismissing the challenges that led us to break up in the first place. Some couples might often try a brief reconciliation, but this often does not work out and they break up again.

While there might be some attraction to the idea of getting back together, and while it might work for some couples, for many people a reunion is simply going to lead to a repeat of the same issues that contributed toward the breakup—unless each individual has done extensive work to develop new relationship and interpersonal skills or address other challenges that made the separation necessary. If this personal work has not taken place, the odds are not in favor of a couple being able to reunite and build a healthy and powerful relationship together.

Therefore, as much as you might miss your ex, and as tempting as it may be to try and get back together with that person, it may be best to tread carefully when heading down this path. It is generally a good idea to examine the motives behind rekindling the relationship and make certain that, if you truly do want to get back together, it is for the right reasons.

Below are some common “wrong” reasons people get back together with an ex, followed by warning signs that attempting to rebuild your relationship may not be the best idea for you right now. It may be helpful to consider these carefully before deciding whether or not to rekindle a romance with an ex-partner.

Breaking up and getting back together has become a pattern.

Some couples develop an unhealthy pattern of getting incredibly close, becoming overwhelmed by this intimacy, and then sabotaging the relationship in order to ease up and obtain needed space. The partners may find the intensity of their togetherness is becoming suffocating or that they are losing themselves in the relationship and withdraw emotionally, cheat, or create other conflict to break up the relationship and take some time to heal. Then, drawn by the intimacy, they rush back into the relationship and repeat this cycle over and over.

In relationships like this, one or both of the partners often feel emotionally abused, and this can indicate it may be time to permanently end the relationship and seek professional help from a therapist to better understand the attraction to this pattern.

You’re getting back together for the sex. 

It is common to feel isolated and emotionally fragile after a breakup. The connection gained from sexual intimacy can be a powerful panacea to this empty feeling, and the person it may feel most comfortable to have sex with is the person you just broke up with. However, this type of reconnection can reduce the value of intimacy and emotional connection. Though it may feel good in the moment, it does not address the core issues faced before the breakup. If you are mainly attempting to rekindle a relationship because of sex, consider this fact a warning sign and pause the process.

You miss the good times. 

Nostalgia can color our view of the past, and we may be particularly blinded by our rose-colored glasses when pining over an ex. Don’t forget there was a reason (or more than one reason) you ended the relationship. It’s important not to disregard those reasons. Whether you struggled to communicate effectively, had different intimacy needs, or found yourself bored with the relationship, it was a serious enough concern to lead one or both of you to choose to end things.

Don’t let your longing for the happy moments you shared overpower the pain of the difficulties you faced. Take time to evaluate the true reasons for breaking up, keeping in mind that, unless you and your ex are able to establish a new style of relating (which may be possible, especially with the help of a relationship counselor), things probably won’t be much different if you try to get back together.

You are afraid of being alone. 

Many of us agree that being alone is scary, or at the very least, less than ideal. One of the perks of being in a relationship, even if it is not always a healthy one, is companionship. There is always someone there to fend off the rest of the world and help prevent feelings of loneliness. The fear of going it alone is one of the biggest temptations for getting back together with an ex, but it is important to recognize that this fear can interfere with the ability to make the best decision for you. People may prefer to remain in an unhealthy relationship or attempt to rebuild a challenged relationship when they look into the future and envision themselves alone and unsupported. The fear of going it alone is one of the biggest temptations for getting back together with an ex, but it is important to recognize that this fear can interfere with the ability to make the best decision for you. It might be scary to think of going it alone, and you may fear being single for the rest of your life, but understand that being single but content in other aspects of life may be more fulfilling than continuing forward with a partner who is toxic, draining, or otherwise harmful to your well-being.

Before You ‘Text Your Ex’, Have You:

Taken ownership for your part in the breakup? 

In many cases, the reasons for a breakup cannot be attributed solely to one party, and it’s important for all parties involved to acknowledge how they contributed to the downfall of the relationship. Apologies can go a long way toward reconnection. When they are not forthcoming, this may indicate a lack of awareness of the core issues that negatively impacted the relationship. Reconciliation is not likely to be possible without each partner acknowledging any problems that existed within the relationship and their responsibility for those problems.

Considered the opinions of those close to you? 

After a relationship ends, friends and family of those involved are most likely going to offer their opinions on the breakup. While (1) these are only opinions, and (2) the only person who can determine what’s best for you is you, it is often the case that friends and family have input that may be worthy of consideration before you make a decision to get back together with your ex. It might be difficult to listen to what they have to say, but if your friends and close family members are adamant about your breakup being a good idea, consider the possibility that they they noticed things about the relationship that concerned them. Close friends and family are often able to identify blind spots and toxic characteristics you may have overlooked. Listening without judgment can be a valuable method of gathering new insight on the relationship, but your ultimate decision should still be your own. If the voices of friends and family are too overwhelming, consider seeking the help of a relationship counselor or other mental health professional as you sort through and consider their suggestions or observations.

When considering reconciliation with an ex, take into account some of these warning signs and use them to explore your motivation for getting back together. It’s never a bad idea to get professional help after a breakup, especially when you feel confused or uncertain. An ethical therapist won’t give you advice, but they can offer compassionate support and help you explore your feelings toward your ex, the relationship itself, and possibilities for the future.

© Copyright 2017 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by John Sovec, LMFT, therapist in Pasadena, California

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • cherith

    cherith

    July 20th, 2017 at 9:34 AM

    My husband and I started dating when we were teenagers so of course during high school we were on and off again more times than I could count. After college and several serious relationships we finally got back together. For us it was a matter of we both needed to grow up a little and figure out who we were. We found out only later on that we loved being together much more than we liked being apart but these are things that you don’t always know for sure until you get some age and wisdom under your belt. I am thankful that eventually we found our way back to each other.

  • Tyler

    Tyler

    July 21st, 2017 at 6:46 AM

    all you have to do is answer one simple question
    does being with this person make me a better person
    or am I more miserable when I am with them?

  • Teresa D.

    Teresa D.

    July 24th, 2017 at 5:42 AM

    I have let the past cloud my judgment too many times, thinking of how good things USED TO BE instead of how things are right here and now. I know that I wasted a whole lot of good years thinking that things could get back to the way that they were in the past and not knowing that they never could be because I had changed. For the better though thankfully!

  • ellen

    ellen

    July 25th, 2017 at 10:55 AM

    When you make up and break up constantly then maybe you are just addicted to the make up?

  • bedri

    bedri

    July 30th, 2017 at 3:46 PM

    Hmmmm it’s always good to know if he or she is reconsidering YOU!

  • Tamra

    Tamra

    December 1st, 2018 at 2:13 PM

    Good needed this

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