Should I Get Back With My Ex?

Getting back together with your ex should never be a forgone conclusion. Even if the chance presents itself, it is all to easy to let hope and fear lead us off the cliff of reason into yet another downward spiral.

Then, of course, there’s the flip-side. While there’s a reason that the relationship came to a close, there’s also a reason you fell in love. Perhaps insecurity and the daily grind got the better of you (both). Perhaps small changes could lead to great outcomes. Maybe, just maybe, time and space are exactly what’s needed, and when you meet again you’ll both be wiser.

And yes, there are far too many what ifs in that last paragraph to make me comfortable, which is why whatever else you decide to do, make sure you begin by…

Cooling off

If the breakup was recent, it is imperative not to let raw emotion guide your decision-making process. There’s a time for romantic leaps of faith, but now is certainly not that time.

Only once the dust has settled will you know with any degree of certainty how committed you, and your partner is, to reconciling. If reconciliation is only a smokescreen for the insecurity and fear that breakups can expose, the house of cards will come crumbling down very swiftly indeed.

In the post-apocalyptic emotional wasteland of a breakup, time is your fiercest ally — and not your worst enemy. Here’s why:

  • Without a sufficient amount of time between the breakup and reconciliation nothing substantial will have changed.
  • Time will allow you (and your partner) to put your own lives first, and get a true, objective taste of what life entails without each other. Even if reconciliation does occur down the line, striking out on your own during this downtime is crucial.
  • Love does not simply evaporate. Time apart will catalyze care and longing not disintegrate it (if those feelings are genuine).
  • Every day that passes will grant you more control and objectivity over your emotions. Empowering your ability to make the right decision.

[alert-note]Most attempts at reconciliation are doomed to fail because they are guided by fear and grief. Only once that need has turned into a want can reconciliation realistically be attempted. [/alert-note]

Analyzing the breakup

Not all relationships are created equal, and not all are destined to survive — no matter how intense or all-encompassing they were.  No matter how much we poured into them.

When looking back, don’t forget that the standard for how functional and healthy the relationship was depended on how your average day was, and not that isolated moment of reckless euphoric abandon.

Were you living acceptably in the present, or were you living in the shadow of the past or hoping for change in the future? When internally debating getting back with your ex, make sure that you are dealing with certainties — and that the only real measure of certainty is the present moment.

You can’t count on your partner changing, and frankly, you can’t demand it either. You can only decide whether it is right for you. If your attempt at reconciliation hinges on their having changed, you’re heading down a path fraught with emotional peril.

Taking it slowly

The healthiest way of approaching reconciliation is by treating it as a new beginning, and not the continuance of your old relationship. Don’t jump in without testing the waters.

  • Erect healthy new personal boundaries.
  • Keep prioritizing your own life.
  • Talk openly about the past, and avoid injecting guilt or anger into the proceedings.
  • Base your impressions on actions not words.
  • Don’t be in a hurry to find a resolution. Move forward only when trust and security have been restored.

Once again, it bears remembering that time is your best friend when it comes to reconciling. Use it!

Good reasons to consider reconciling

Rather than end with my trademark gloomy note, I want to end by compiling my subjective list of reasons that bode well when it comes to reconciliation. If many of these points resound with you, perhaps your chances aren’t so bad after-all!

  • You fundamentally trusted each other.
  • You fundamentally cared for each other (even if the flames of attraction had dimmed).
  • Manipulation, resentment and guilt did not come to dominate the relationship.
  • You, or your partner were never flagrantly mistreated (terminal loss of trust).
  • Your feelings for each other were generally at roughly the same level. There were no huge disparities with regards to attention and affection.
  • Your physical health (depression, chronic stress) was never placed in jeopardy as a direct result of the relationship.
  • You miss each other despite a lengthy period of time having passed.

Images courtesy of gameanna /

20 Comments Should I Get Back With My Ex?

  1. Lynn

    My ex broke up with me a month and a half ago. Although we still hang out at times and chat back and forth via text, we have yet to reconcile. He still tells me there’s hope, and that time will heal. Jjust yesterday text me “I do miss you”.
    Should I have hope of reconciliation?

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      One and a half months isn’t all that long. I personally don’t feel it’s long enough for foundational change to have occurred. But that’s just my opinion :)

      If he genuinely misses you then the chance for reconciliation does exist. But unless he’s actively willing to take steps to mend fences, you’re far better off not daydreaming about potential reconciliation too much (I know it’s very hard not to), or it will hinder your healing should it not come to pass. I’m a firm believe in action over words.

    2. Lynn

      I agree. Actions speak louder….
      I have been thinking of telling him I need some time and space, since we see each other or hangout almost every day.
      Do you think this would benefit us both?

    3. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Absolutely, yes. It will help clear up the confusion. Assuming you sit down and explain why beforehand (or it will provoke more questions than answers).

    4. Lynn

      He tells me time away won’t solve anything. And that running away from it is not the answer.

      And is it best to tell him this in person or can I chicken out in a text?
      LOL ;-)~

    5. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      It’s your decision to make. Not his. You can play it out any way you like. Don’t let guilt or fear stand in your way.

      If he doesn’t like the idea of you prioritizing your life in a way that doesn’t exalt him, then he knows where he can find you. If you can accept a breakup, then he must respect your desire to have your space.

    6. Lynn

      Yeah your welcome!!!!!
      You Rock @ this guy stuff!

      I’m sure you’ll hear more from me!

  2. Anonymous

    Hello! I don’t know if you’re interested in telling your own personal experiences. But have you ever tried getting back together with an ex? If so, how did it go?

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Not well I’m afraid. Although we did successfully reconcile initially. However, there was a sense of having tried, of completion. And we were able to remain friendly afterwards. I doubt that would have been the case after the first attempt.

  3. S

    Hello. Me and my ex broke up last month, and I’m still in the depression stage. The breakup was devastating for me, since he left me because of his own personal needs. He said he needed time to sort out his life, he doesn’t want to be involved in a relationship for the time being and there were no third person involved. He stated that if we were meant to be together, we’d find our way back. We decided that we remain friends since we attend the same university, except he is my senior and he is graduating next year. But even so, we’re currently in a NC and we’re currently on my semester break (so we haven’t seen each other for a month too). The NC rule really helps for me to think everything over. I really don’t want to expect much from him, including his lack of commitment in the past relationship. But deep in my heart, I just want to get him back. Should I really consider the thought of reconciliation for the time being?

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      He stated that if we were meant to be together, we’d find our way back.

      I’ve told exs this, and have been told this as well. The truth is, passive agreements such as these tend to fade into darkness because reconciliation requires real investment, and real work (as you undoubtedly already know or suspect).

      I don’t mean to sound blunt, but I think NC is your best ticket here, the breakup seems superficially clean — despite your desire (and very probably also his missing you) to reconcile.

      I know that those two paragraphs may seem like they conflict with each other, but reconciliation is best attempted when you are both a little “over” each other, and trauma induced needs are transformed into wants. I would let NC continue to work its detox magic (especially since it seems to working for you at some level), and only truly to invest in a reconciliation scenario once most of the vestiges of trauma seem to have melted away.

      Of course, this doesn’t mean getting to the point where you no longer care, it merely means getting to a point where rejection or refusal won’t send you spinning back to stages 2 or 3 of the kubler ross cycle.

      One month is not a long time when it comes to matters of the heart, but it is the most turbulent moment, when pain is the most acute. I would advise giving it a little more time if you are able to. And to reach a point where notions such as guilt, anger (or his lack of commitment) are either something you are objectively able to declare an amnesty on in the future — or not.

    2. S

      Thank you for your nice honest inputs! True, NC feels less awkward for me as I’ve been trying to get my mind elsewhere and indulge myself in my activities. Although at the end of the day, I still think a lot about him despite my wounded heart. It still feels so fresh, as if the breakup just happened yesterday. I am still traumatized by everything that has happened, and I’m quite tired of having this “what if” scenarios in my head without me noticing it at times… But what if I run into him some time soon? Because I do need to visit my university sometimes even on my summer break. I don’t want to break the NC rule, but I don’t want our interaction to be awkward… Will time really heals and mend our relationship? Even if there is no chance of reconciliation, I would miss him as a friend… Sorry for my ramble, but thanks! :)

    3. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hi again S,

      Will time really heals and mend our relationship?

      Time by itself won’t, no. At least not directly. Time is only handy in that you will be able to address reconciliation without being prey to insecurity, fear and other volatile emotions. I’ve written about why I think reconciliation is often doomed, because it is attempted too early here.

      I am still traumatized by everything that has happened

      Understandably so, however this is precisely why you need to stick with NC for the present (my opinion, it bears remembering I could be wrong! There is no one-size-fits-all solution to breaking up).

      I don’t want to break the NC rule, but I don’t want our interaction to be awkward

      NC is an option that aims to help you. If you are fundamentally uncomfortable with where it is taking you (recurrent guilt, insecurity, e.t.c), and it seems to hurt more than it helps, you should do what it takes to ease the pain (which might mean opting for LC instead). NC is probably the fastest way to recover in the long run, but can be too excruciating in the short-term. Also, if taken too literally it can jeopardize reconciliation. Eventually, if you want to reconcile, you’re going to have to talk after-all.

      Do what you feel is best, so long as you are not prioritizing false hope, or over-analysis over your healing.

      I’m quite tired of having this “what if” scenarios in my head without me noticing it at times

      Again, entirely naturally. When I went through my last breakup I felt a little like what that girl in the exorcist must have felt like while being possessed. My brain was perpetually haunted, and the world was a graveyard of memories. It is your brain trying to fix your problems by spurring you to replace what was lost (the addictive principle). Due to the fact that brain operates on a subconscious level, it obviously is oblivious to the fact that it isn’t quite that simple. Once it “gets” the idea that what was lost might not be coming back, it will begin to accept a new comfort zone and routine, and the haunting will begin to diminish!

      All the best!

    4. S

      Hi, it’s S again. Thank you for your last inputs, it had helped me bunch of times again. So, a week ago I went to university and suddenly my ex just came up to me. It was rare, because he doesn’t usually do it even on normal occasion. I took it well, it was only a chit chat. But somehow it left quite an impact, like reopening an invisible wound. I decided to clear my thoughts after that, though. And last night, after 2 weeks of NC (it’s usually who initiate contact in the relationship), he contacted me out of the blue. We had a nice chat and he decided to ask me out for dinner. I thought he would give me time to heal, I don’t want to assume that he has a hidden agenda. But I can’t help and put my guards up… I don’t want to hope, I would go as a friend, is it even alright for me?

    5. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      What a tangle there S!

      I don’t think you can assume he doesn’t have an agenda. In my admittedly limited experience, having a one to one dinner between exs is rarely a wholly platonic affair. You broke up, sure, but you also fell in love at some point. Even if the intention is that of patching up old grievances, emotions will fly.

      I thought he would give me time to heal,

      If he isn’t giving you the time to heal, it is up to you to take it. One of the best aspects of NC is that it channels our need for emotion validation from the ex, to ourselves. However, this isn’t a quick process, and exs tend to have a radar for healing, and at some point, tests such as these will make or break our resolve.

      If you intend to reconcile, sooner or later you are going to bridge the communication gap and become confidants once again. But if you don’t trust your emotional self-sufficiency yet you owe it yourself to call if off (or postone it). Are you willing to go as a friend? If you are willing to stomach this scenario, I don’t see why you shouldn’t. But chances are, expectations, resentment, insecurity and potentially false hopes will exacerbate an already delicate situation.

  4. Steph

    Hi Unknown-

    My girlfriend and I broke up a year ago (the first woman I had ever been with and probably the first person I ever truly loved). We had just moved into a new place after traveling together….we were friends for one year (she pursued me for that entire time) and good relationship for 2, but not without it’s problems…stress, hiding the relationship, her sometimes excessive drinking, my ignorant lack of affection. I should mention that she is 12 years younger in her late 20’s and a bit socially awkward. I was under a lot of stress and not being my usual fun self and then started noticing signs of her being distracted by a girl at work. Some shady phone calls and late nights… she had already mentioned to me that she was starting to question our relationship. I don’t think she cheated, but she wanted to. I don’t think her crush reciprocated. She would tell me to stay one minute and tell me all the reasons I sucked the next. It began to escalate to a dangerous level and so I left out of self respect. I knew that I had to, but I was devastated. I cried for 6 months straight..and I am so NOT a drama queen. In fact, I have had so many mental and physical health problems that I have ended up in serious debt. I was very healthy before all this went down.. prided myself on being a young 40- sexy, confidant, smart. We have kept in contact this entire time either by email, txt and occasional phone call which I realize is super unhealthy…first rehashing (it was clear she did not want me coming back), then more rehashing and empty promises from her to visit me in Austin where I was housesitting. (I lost my job, home, girlfriend, health, savings and truck (car was a very bad luck year to say the least) and then the minute I became resigned and started to drop away, she started telling me that she made a mistake, missed and loved me and wanted to try again. I have put her off for 5 months now because I feel like I can’t trust her again and she keeps on asking for another chance. She wants to talk on the phone, but I am afraid to. And I wonder if it’s my lack of interest that is fueling her. But I still love her deeply and wonder if I am making a mistake! I still get very emotional about it, yet at the same time, am resigned. She has apologized many times, but so much has happened to me that I just feel broken..I am still picking up the pieces. I have had too many health problems to date other people, so I don’t even have any other perspective to build upon. I have even told her to not contact me many times, but then she makes sure she doesn’t go more than a week without contact. I told her that he was being manipulative because she had not found anyone else and I was her back up plan. She, of course, denies it. I am so confused!!! I think I know in my heart to let her go…that even a reconciliation would be doomed, but am still having problems doing that even after a year. Am I clinging because everything else is still a mess…? Forgive me for the novel, but your articles really helped me. Any advice would be so appreciated!

    1. James NelmondoJames Nelmondo

      Hi Steph, thanks for dropping by,

      You sound like an empathatic, strong-willed person to me. I see what you mean by being torn. On the one side the hint of emotional completion, but on the other, a painful cliff edge that promises to destabilize what little you have left. To a certain extent I can absolutely confirm that these feelings (technically I believe it is called “Limerence” feel free to dig deeper on Google there) are part and parcel of any relationship that ends the way yours did. With a measure of incompletion and sacrifice. And despite the cornuopia of quickfix advice littered around the web, the feelings (and I claim the right to say this due to one-to-one feedback I have received) can last decades.

      There are no right or wrongs here, and her feelings reconciliation maybe entirely genuine, persistence is the key to discerning intent — and she is displaying this (despite potential rejection and pride). But on the other, perhaps it is all a self-centered whim.

      There are ways to test commitment to relationships without being overly manipulative. You’ll definitely want to make sure she isn’t simply doing this to placate her ailing ego. My first piece of advice would be to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, you’ll never be certain of her intent, but you need to be confident. As you say, anything else might potentially destroy what emotional and — apparently — physical reserves you have left.

      Don’t be afraid to push the me card. But you will also have to come to terms with the fact that it was ultimately you who called it off (despite the manipulation and questioning from her side that provoked your sensible decision — there will neverless be a measure of indignation and hurt on her side too). ANd that, and I don’t like having to say this (because you may well be right – and instincts tend to be) but you might be wrong about what her intentions were at the end of the relationship.

      It seems that no matter what your objectives are (both of you), trust needs to be restored. Friendship needs to be rekindled. I know how redundant it is to speak in platitudes liek this, but you really do know her better than I ever will. You need to use communicate, potentially escalate communication, and see what level of effort it takes for her to back off her promises. If she is willing to go above and beyond (take a mid-year trip to see you), then you have the first building blocks for trust.

      If she can’t, then you will NEED to cut your losses, shutdown communication and keep walking. There is no middle ground. Use your communication pro-actively, and absolutely do not redefine your relationship as a new grey area. Everything is, or it isnt.

  5. MJ

    I will try to get to the point. Me and my .bf were together for almost 3 years. Out of those 3 years i was away for 9 months because i won a scholarship to study abroad. We made it through (with a few fights) but when i got back (4months ago) i thought everything was going to be even better because of the time we had apart. however we both changed and made some mistakes basically we took our relationship for granted. we started to fight more than ever for things that he used to do but not anymore like taking an invitation to go share with my family, he said that he will feel uncomfortable and i started to notice that he became cold. i decided to take a break but after a week i told him that we needed to figure out things inthemoment instead of pretending to have a break. unfortunately he said that ever since i came back he wasn’t sure about the relationship anymore hedoesnt know what he wants and that he needed time and space because he felt like our relationship changed and i did too. even tho i told him that we could fix things and made it better he said that he couldn’t give me a 100 % and that if he wasn’t committed to try to make things better then it would be useless to give us a 2 chance. he also said that we need time to heal forgive calm down and think rationally. that was a month ago however i think i screw it up. i see him 4 times a week at school and it kills me it’s making things worst because I get too emotional. So I contacted him like 4 times to try to really understand what was going on with him , at first he was patient with me and tried to calm me down saying that we needed the space and time but at the same time he would say do not wait for me cause is not fair for you…. i was confused. So last time I contacted him I call in drunk (I know big mistake) and asked him to really tell me once and for all how he really feels because he was giving me mixed signals. I could tell that he was upset because I was crying and acting needy but he said that he was not feeling the same in our relationship and that he couldn’t see himself with me in the next month. We were trying to keep things friendly since we have to see each other at school but after my phone call he doesn’t say hi anymore…. i messed up right? do u think he will ever talk to me again? Classes end in November and I know the NC period has to start now. Idk if I will have a chance after my behavior. Truth is even tho I knew we were going through a rough time, I never imagine that he would break up with me all of a sudden :( perhaps that is why I am so affected by this and I still have a tiny hope. Should I keep with the NC period after school is over ?? Do you think I still have a chance? Thanks for your advice.


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