5 Ways To Know Whether You Should Get Back Together With Your Ex

Written by Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST
Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., LPCC, LMHC, CST, is a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist with 12 years of clinical experience. She is a licensed counselor in California, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana. She is also a certified sex therapist, certified addiction professional, and president of the Therapy Department, a private practice in Orange County that provides counseling services throughout the United States.

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Humans have a desire to love and to be loved, which is often fulfilled in romantic relationships—and that explains why breakups can be so hard to deal with. Like many people following a breakup, you might go through a process in which you consider getting back together with your ex. Did you make the right decision to leave them? Should you reach back out to try to rekindle what once was?

You wouldn't be alone if you did: According to a survey conducted by the Associated Press, 41% of people have gotten back together with an ex. But whether or not that's the right decision for you is a different story.

Just because you have the option to get back together doesn't mean it is the right decision. Many factors need to be weighed when deciding whether you should jump back into the relationship. Sure, being separated or apart helps you realize that you had a good thing. However, it can also make you see just how unhealthy the relationship was through the time apart.

Should we get back together? How to know if it's the right decision.

From the wrong timing to cheating, there are hundreds of reasons that breakups happen. If you are trying to decide to give your ex another shot, here are five things to consider before leaping back in:

1. How do your friends and family feel about your ex?

The people that support and love you probably have a strong opinion on your ex. Whether you were the one to break up or the one who got left behind, your friends will likely be happy to share their opinions about whether you should get back together.

Whether you admit it or not, your loved ones may be a better judge of character than you are. They notice qualities that your ex may have that are easier for you to ignore, and they can point out ways they have seen you change through the relationship.

It can be hard to hear their potentially negative feedback, but try to avoid getting defensive. Your support network is filled with people who want the best for you at the end of the day, so it's important not to dismiss their concerns.

Try this: Choose three people in your life whom you trust. Ask each of them the best and worst thing about you when you were with your ex. Ask them to be honest and not hold back—and be prepared to receive their answers without defensiveness.

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2. Are you confident that you're not just settling?

Most likely you know your ex like the back of your hand. You know what they love and what they hate, and they know the same about you. With that level of understanding each other, it's not surprising you miss them.

Dealing with the loss of your relationship can make you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster. Some days you feel OK, and other days you can't stop crying. On those more turbulent days, you might be willing to do anything to make the emotions stop.

If you are considering giving the relationship another try, be sure that you aren't feeling desperate and settling so you don't have to be alone. You shouldn't be making the decision because someone is better than no one—because that can be a big mistake.

Remember that what you are feeling right now will not last forever, even though you think it might. You are going through a season in your life that you will heal from. If you decide to give your ex another try, make sure that you aren't settling because it's convenient or because it feels easier than trying to move on.

Try this: Ask yourself what evidence you have that you aren't settling. Why are you deciding to give your ex another chance at the relationship?

3. Make a list of pros and cons.

As if making decisions isn't hard enough, trying to decide to jump back in or stay away from your ex can be a difficult one. There is a tug-of-war happening in your body between your head and your heart. Your head is telling you what you should do, which may be to stay away, but your heart is yelling at you to try one more time.

When your heart speaks, it's loud and painful. Your head is whispering what you need to do, but since your heart is louder, it can be easier to give in to it. Since this disagreement is happening within, it can be challenging to make the best decision for you.

This is why it can be helpful to write out a pros and cons list. Writing out your answers will help you stay rational and logical in your decision-making.

Try this: Fold a blank sheet of paper in half. On one half, write "Get back with my ex” and then create two columns labeled "Pro" and "Con" underneath. On the other half of the paper, write "Don't get back with my ex" and then create two columns labeled "Pro" and "Con" underneath that. As you're filling out all these columns, the goal is to get out of your head and heart as you move into a rational space. During this exercise, focus on the process of what you are doing, feeling, and thinking.

4. Love isn't enough: Just because you still love your ex doesn't mean you should get back together.

If you think that being in love should be enough to sustain a relationship, then you will continue to feel hurt and pain. Being in love with your ex isn't enough to keep the relationship healthy. Feeling love for your ex is easy, but showing the actions of love is the hard part of a relationship.

Beware, too, of letting your physical needs get the best of you. Everyone loves a good physical connection, but if that's one of the only aspects that was working in your relationship or one of the only aspects you miss, it won't be enough to sustain a second go. Mind-blowing sex isn't enough to keep a relationship healthy, so don't neglect your emotional needs in a relationship just because your physical ones are met.

Try this: Think about how your ex showed you the action of love in the past. What did they do that made you feel they loved and respected you? What action did they take that showed you they cared? Reviewing your ex's actions will force you to rationally consider possible areas of concern that you may have been neglecting.

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5. Ask yourself this: Is your life better with or without your ex?

This can be a tricky question if you are feeling hurt and alone. Feeling anything other than sad and lonely would probably be a welcome change, but you need to ask yourself whether there were more good days than bad back when you were still together. Be real with yourself about this: Did having your ex in your life improve you or hurt you? A healthy relationship is made up of two people who are committed to improving themselves and bringing out the best in each other.

Try this: On a sheet of paper, make two columns. On the left side, list all of the things your ex did to improve your life. On the right side, list all the things they did that made your life difficult. Be honest with yourself, even if you don't want to be. Don't hold back the truth, and write out everything you can think of. After you have completed your list, review it to see the differences.

Rules for getting back together with an ex.

Don'ts:

  • Don't get back together because you are lonely.
  • Don't get back together until you have assessed why you broke up in the first place and whether you can move past the reason you split up.
  • Don't continue to bring up everything that happened in the past if you do get back together.
  • Don't use past events as ammunition in future arguments.
  • Don't be passive-aggressive when people ask why you decided to get back together.

Do's:

  • Do get back together if you are better together than you are apart.
  • Do set boundaries about how you will and won't be treated. Let them know your deal-breakers in this next phase of the relationship.
  • Do tell them what you learned about yourself and your relationship during the time apart.
  • Do be assertive and speak up for your needs.
  • Do make sure that you schedule a time for individual interests and hobbies even if you get back together. Maintain your you-ness.

Deciding to get back together with your ex is a big one. When you review the five things to consider as well as the do's and don'ts, make sure you're being totally honest with yourself and your answers. Also, remember that you are only responsible for yourself and your life. Whatever decision you make should be what's best for you. They are your ex for a reason, so make sure you do what you need to do for your own long-term happiness.

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