Giving an ex a second chance

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An ex is an ex for a reason. Whichever one of you that ended the relationship, there were probably valid reasons. Even if you were not together for very long it is a painful process and not one you want to repeat very often, particularly with the same person. So what do you do if you feel like you have moved on and got over the heartbreak and then your ex comes back and says they want to give it another go?

Here are some suggestions to help you decide whether you can, or want to, give them a second chance.

[NB: If this is not a second chance but a third or fourth, be wary of even considering it – it may have become a yo-yo relationship that is unlikely to lead to any solidity and you will undoubtedly be hurt again no matter how much they say they have changed. It’s time to move on]

Put the relationship under the microscope

It is important before you make the decision to give someone a second chance that you get a realistic perspective of what the relationship was actually like. This can be difficult to do, especially if a lot of time has passed since you were together. Depending on the type of person you are you may remember only the good through the soft romantic focus of time and believe you were really happy – or you may remember only the bad and still feel angry, hurt and resentful for the things they did to you forgetting all the happy times and good points of the relationship.

Ask the people closest to you

In order to get a balanced and realistic view of what happened and how you were together as a couple talk to friends and family and ask them their opinion of how the relationship was and whether they think you should give it another go. Sometimes people outside a situation can see it more clearly than those in it.

Write it out

Another way is to write out your memories of the relationship both good and bad. An easy way to do this is to get a notepad and begin sentences with ‘I remember…’ and write anything that comes to mind. This is a powerful exercise as long forgotten memories might surface; it is advisable that you have some tissues and emotional support on hand! Keep writing over the course of a few days – maybe take the notebook around with you so when things come to mind you can jot them down – it can take quite a while especially if you were together for a long time. Stop when nothing more is coming to mind.

This exercise will help you get a realistic and balanced view of the relationship and will also help you to clear out any old resentment or anger that you may have been holding onto so that if you do decide to give it another go it really will be a fresh start.

Making the decision

Even once you have a realistic view of how things were between you and your ex you still need to decide whether you want to give it another go so here are some useful questions to ask yourself.

Are your values still aligned? – People often break up because they’ve grown apart or their values and priorities have shifted. For example, if you’re at a stage in your life where you’re ready to settle down but your ex isn’t, then you may not be a good fit for each other anymore. Spend time reflecting on your deal breakers and how your ex measures up against them.

Have the reasons why you split up changed? – If you split up because they cheated for example are you sure the issue has been resolved and won’t become a problem again in the future?

Have you really forgiven them for what happened? If not you will be carrying the past into the new relationship and it is likely to erode it over time. If your behaviour was the reason you split up are you sure that they have forgiven you? It is important that you talk to each other about it.

What are the reasons for wanting to give it another go? If it is that you both realised that you made a silly mistake and actually really love each other that is great, but if it is that you can’t bear to see them with someone else, or that you are both lonely, then that isn’t the best basis for getting back together.

Ask your ex what their reasons are for wanting you back. Sometimes people are attracted to the very thing that they can’t have and the minute they get it they start losing interest and looking around for the next challenge. If you split up because your ex lost interest in you but now you have moved on and are getting on with your life they want you back be very careful. People like this can drive you crazy.


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