Getting back together is a delicate process that is often blinded by grief, hope and uncertainty. This article is my opinionated attempt at bringing the subjective into the realm of the objective, in the hopes of crystallizing your decisions about reconciliation.
1. What’s been fixed?
Breaking up can lead to an existential battle between two poles. On the one side there is a reason you broke up, but on the other, there’s also a reason why you fell in love.
As time progresses, and separation takes its toll, it is entirely natural to gloss over the day-to-day stress that wore the relationship down and focus instead on the highlights of the relationship. In the timeless words of Edna St. Vincent Millay:
The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.
Before getting back together with your ex ask yourself what steps have been taken to remedy the downward spiral that led to the breakup. Has enough time elapsed for both of you to have truly envisioned a life without each other?
If it is a need rather than a want that guides reconciliation, you may end up exactly where you started.
2. What emotion guides reconciliation?
Reconciling isn’t always about love, although it may initially seem like it. Guilt, fear, trauma and pity are all common reasons reconciliation fails once stability is reached, and the routine resumes.
So, how can we tell the difference? Sometimes we can’t. It can be difficult to separate these triggers objectivity while meandering through trauma, when objectivity gives way to subjective need. What we can do is slow the reconciliation process down so that we aren’t swept away by our innate feelings of grief or idealism.
Treating reconciliation as a fresh, new beginning with new rules, boundaries and needs is a great way to set a positive tone. Instead of resuming on a broken note, start dating.
Not only are you building a new history which stems from more than just a broken sense of trust, you are getting to know each other from scratch and redefining your future relationship.
If you grew apart, now is the time to take stock of where life has taken you (and whether or not you are willing to accept it).
3. Can you forget (and forgive) the past?
Most breakups are inherently traumatic, and despite our desire to reconcile we can carry our insecurity into the new version of the relationship.
An initial wave of relief can mask underlying issues of trust or resentment, but sooner or later, if they exist, they will come out.
If you are reconciling, I would strongly advise the scouring of our insecurity for issues which may crop up later in the relationship and threaten its already ailing structure. The best way to measure how prone this is to happening is to decide whether or not you are willing to declare a general amnesty on the past relationship.
Would you agree to never dig up discussions about behaviours or events from the past? If the answer is a firm no, there may be some issues you and your partner may have to discuss before reconciliation can realistically take place.
4. Is anyone else in the picture?
The tendency to find rebound relationships as a way to quell the emotional void after a breakup is well-known.
If there’s someone else patrolling your talks of reconciliation (on either your, or their side), make sure they are made aware of what is happening. Both for the sake of your new relationship, and for their sake.
Left unchecked, complicated romantic situations can and will jeopardize reconciliation (trust is already low as it is). Level the playing field and clear the air. If reconciliation isn’t worth your undivided romantic attention, it raises serious doubts about its long-term chances.
P.S: This also means making sure they don’t have a backup plan either.
5. Does it make you smile?
Relationship downtime is immensely important because it teaches us the value of rekindling our emotional self-sufficiency by putting our needs first.
Taking another leap of faith may jeopardize whatever ground we’ve covered with regards to improving our own lives (should it not pan out). Because of this, it is imperative to consider how reconciliation (beyond our hopes, fears and dreams) is affecting our overall well-being in the now.
While it sounds overly simplistic, I really do feel that reconciliation is something that should make us smile — and certainly not leave a guilty, ashen taste at the back of the mouth.
How does it feel? While the expectation is obviously of reaching a comfortable balance down the road, reconciliation should never be just a means to an end. Unless you are able to feel relatively fulfilled and happy in the now, there is no guarantee that you ever will.
I absolutely do not intend to throw a blanket on the fires of attraction by saying this, if anything I would advise turning reconciliation into a process that you fundamentally enjoy. Putting your needs first is not only a great way to make the most of your present, it is also a way to improve the chances of the process being successful.