The loneliness and longing one feels in the wake of a fresh breakup can be overwhelming. What better way to relieve the misery and pain than by reconnecting with the one who broke your heart?
A recent study showed that nearly 50 percent of young adults have attempted at least one reconciliation with an ex. While it can be a recipe for disaster if done hastily or for the wrong reasons, getting back together isn’t always an Emoji Movie-level terrible idea. If both people have spent time working through their issues, a reconciliation might even make sense. But it’s a big decision that should be met with careful consideration.
Before you rush into your ex’s arms (or inbox), it’s essential to have a strategy. We asked dating coaches, relationship experts, and therapists about what to keep in mind when getting back together with a former flame. Taken together, the experts’ advice offers a useful roadmap for anyone who’s interested in giving their boo another go. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Time Is On Your Side
You know you’re ready when you've had enough time away from your ex to work through what went wrong in the relationship. This is months or years, not days or weeks. Another time to consider it is when you see signs of positive change in yourself and in your partner, change that pertains to whatever split you up in the first place. For example, if you split up because one partner didn't want to get married and the other did, one partner has to have changed their view on that, or a rekindling won't work. Learn from the past. If you think the passage of time or "some time apart" is enough to solve the problems, you'll probably wind up broken up again. If you want to know that your partner has changed, actions speak louder than words. If he or she has changed, you'll see it in their behavior and actions. – Christie Hartman, Dating and relationship expert
Want Success? Look for Signs of Change
Although there are a myriad of reasons that cause a relationship to break, being confident that those circumstances have changed is key to future success. Internal changes such as self-awareness, breaking old patterns, renewed vulnerability and trust, and healing from the past sets us up for a new experience with a familiar person. Also, external changes such as career, effective communication, and overall timing support a successful second chance. Getting back together with an ex partner can be likened to repairing an emotional injury. A successful relationship is not disqualified because it did not work initially, success comes in how you repair it. Repair it well! – Akua Boateng, M.S., LPC, Licensed Psychotherapist
Brutal Honesty is Key
Think long and hard before you try to get back together with an ex. You really need to be brutally honest with yourself about why you’re trying to get back with them. Is it just a case of golden-aging your previous relationship? Why did you break up with them in the first place? Have you actually healed from things or are you still holding onto the hurts and grievances? If you get angry, are you going to throw their past sins back in their face? Are you absolutely sure you’re ready for a relationship with the person who they are now, rather than who they used to be? If the two of you can’t talk about what happened and each own your part of the break-up––as well as forgive one another and yourselves––then all you’re doing is guaranteeing you’re going to have a rerun of the old conflicts. - Harris O'Malley aka Dr. NerdLove, Dating Expert
Making a New (Old) Relationship Work
For any great relationship, you need a combination of things: honesty, empathy, compassion, loyalty. But if you are starting over with a past love, you'll need all that plus a few critical things, which all relationships need: open, honest communication, a willingness to be wrong, discussing and releasing the past, and surrendering control. You can get back together with love, listening, acceptance, and empathy as your guides. Just keep your eyes open so you can avoid past situations and mistakes. – Charles J. Orlando, relationship expert and co-host of “Seven Year Switch” on Lifetime
Slow Your Roll on Social Media
If you’re thinking about getting back with your ex, take it slow. Enjoy creating new memories and respect the different perspectives you might have. Don’t rush into changing your relationship status to “in a relationship” or start posting pics all over social media until you both know for sure and you think it will stick. No one really wants to know “it’s complicated." It’s easy to recycle an ex at the holidays or after a fresh breakup. But before you start to follow, friend, and obsess about your ex and your new bright future together on social media, take it one step at a time. – Julie Spira, Online Dating Expert and Dating Coach
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.