Don’t go back to an ex because you’re anxious. Credit: Vicky Leta / Mashable
Cuffing season is over, Taylor Swift recently got out of a six-year relationship — and perhaps you’ve just been through a breakup, too. But maybe you’re not settling into your single era as smoothly as Swift(opens in a new tab) is; you could be thinking about getting back together with a former partner.
But is it a good idea to go back to an ex? Relationship experts shared their insights with Mashable.
Why do I want to get back together with my ex?The end of a relationship can be difficult for everyone involved. Depending on the circumstances, feelings of longing or wanting each other may persist, said JustAnswer(opens in a new tab) family therapist, LCSW and relationships expert Jennifer Kelman.
Yearning for a previous, comfortable relationship may arise when you start meeting other people. The dating waters can be inhospitable, to say the least, and they may cause you to wonder if your previous relationship was that bad.
Feelings of jealousy can also cause a pull back to an ex, like if you see them with someone new. But that’s not the only emotion that may be at play: “Loneliness, sadness, guilt, and fear of being alone may also prompt one to get back together as it may feel easier to be in the wrong relationship than to be alone processing all of the feelings that come up,” said Kelman.
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Just because you miss your ex, doesn’t mean it’s the right decision to get back together. “Couples may often find themselves going back to what’s familiar and comfortable,” Kelman continued, “but that does not mean it is the right decision.”
Should I get back together with my ex?Truly, you’re the only one who can answer that question, but here’s what to consider to aid in that decision-making
“When considering whether or not to get back together with an ex, I think the most important question to ask yourself is: Why would it be different this time?” said Allison Raskin, author of Overthinking About You: Navigating Romantic Relationships When You Have Anxiety, OCD, and/or Depression(opens in a new tab), and the Emotional Support Lady(opens in a new tab) newsletter.
We may want to get back together because of the weight of the loss or loneliness, but there’s a reason the breakup happened in the first place, Raskin continued. Being honest with yourself about what led to the breakup can help you answer whether it’s a good idea to get back together. Reflect on whether those problems have been solved. Was it a long-distance relationship, and now you live in the same place? Did one of you go to therapy to work on intimacy issues?
“Can you point to a tangible thing that has changed either individually or as a couple that will result in a different relationship dynamic than last time?” “Can you point to a tangible thing that has changed either individually or as a couple that will result in a different relationship dynamic than last time?” Raskin asked. “If not, it might be better to just push through the pain and adjustment of no longer being together and try to find someone who you mesh with better.”
Here are some additional questions to ask yourself, recommended from psychologist and psychotherapist Craig Kain(opens in a new tab):
How would getting back together with my ex improve my life?
How did it feel when we were together?
How do I feel now that we’re apart?
Being in a relationship creates a powerful bond between you and your partner, said Kain, which can develop over a short period of time. “The more we can understand how we feel when we experience an intimacy-bond, the better able we are to make a decision to let a relationship go or get back to it,” he said.
Dig deep to find your true motivations for wanting to get back together, Kelman said. Is this desire coming from a place of fear, or love?
Don’t go back just because you’re afraid to be alone, or you hate being single. Getting back together may be the easiest way to soothe these painful feelings, but that doesn’t address the relational issues that potentially caused the breakup. Women especially may feel pressure to partner up and not be single, but it’s 2023; we can reclaim being single as a symbol of strength, of not accepting a relationship that doesn’t fulfill you.
Ask yourself if you’re anxious and want to get back together as a way of avoiding anxiety, said Kain. If you’re anxious about starting to date again, there are better ways to deal with that anxiety than rushing back into a relationship.
There may be a honeymoon phase when you get back together, but if you have unresolved issues, that will fade. If you really want to work through these problems, Kelman recommends couples therapy before deciding to get back together; individual therapy may also be needed if one or both of you is going through something outside the relationship.
“Without a true desire and ability to look inward and work toward healing themselves and the relationship, then most likely the same issues that existed the first time, will be present when getting back together,” Kelman said.
“Reconnection can happen, but only if both people are willing to do their own work and the work as a couple.” If there’s a mutual desire to get back together (that isn’t anxiety based!) and the relationship wasn’t abusive, there’s no reason not to try again, Kain said. “What is important in relationships is not whether or not they crack — most relationships have small fractures over time — but whether we have the skills to repair them,” he said.
“Reconnection can happen, but only if both people are willing to do their own work and the work as a couple,” said Kelman.
Ultimately, go inward and think about why you broke up in the first place, and how you feel now. You choose whether it’s time for a second chance, or time to move on.
Anna Iovine is the sex and relationships reporter at Mashable, where she covers topics ranging from dating apps to pelvic pain. Previously, she was a social editor at VICE and freelanced for publications such as Slate and the Columbia Journalism Review. Follow her on Twitter @annaroseiovine(opens in a new tab).
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