Getting back together with someone with whom you have history and baggage is a fantastic, but delicate and arduous endeavor.
After 2 years apart, my ex came knocking at my (figurative) door one Sunday afternoon, wanting to get back together.
It had been 2 years since we had last seen each other (we live in different countries); 2 years! And we were still living in different countries at the time he professed his (restored, but never really lost) love for me.
As cheesy as it might sound, I always kind of thought we were made for each other and that we would eventually get back together. Or at the very least, meet again at some point, despite the 6 000 km between us.
I just didn’t expect it to happen when it did, and it came as kind of a shock. And the process of navigating his return in my life (and mine in his) has been rocky, to say the least.
And so, here are 8 mistakes I either made, tried really hard not to make, or found myself glad I didn’t make during the first few weeks of getting back together with my ex.
Mistake #1: Jump in too fast and too deep into a full-blown, committed relationship with your ex
Keep this in mind during the first few days/weeks, or even months, of rebuilding a new relationship between you and your ex.
Yes, you love each other; yes, he’s the “love of your life”; and yes, you know him sooo well already… blah blah blah.
Don’t disrupt your life without any guarantee
Listen: you also broke up for a reason.
And you’ve (hopefully) built a life without him during that time you were broken up (I sure hope you did).
So, don’t carelessly disrupt everything you’ve built in a matter of hours or days just because your ex suddenly realized you were the best thing in his life after toasted bread and butter.
If your ex mentions he wants to back together, and you think you would want that too, DO NOT SAY: “Oh yes honey! I love you! Let’s elope together and get married today”.
Or: “Oh yes ill get back together with you right now just because you said you missed me”.
Don’t laugh. I’m being serious.
If you still love your ex or think you might still have feelings for him, and he comes back to you wanting to get back together, you could say something like: “I’m open to the idea, but I’d like to think about it”.
Don’t just assume he’s changed: let him prove to you that he has, with his actions.
Doubts might come later
Don’t just jump all in right away. No matter how sure you are of your love for someone, you should still be a little cautious with your heart. Thats is, especially if you’ve been apart for many years and/or if your respective lives have changed.
Also, you might have missed your ex for the past 2 years, but you’ve also been missing the idea of him. And now, you will be dealing with the real him again.
And doubts can, and probably will, come. Heck! You should have doubts and reservations.
Take your time
Also, you guys did break up for a reason. Therefore, and if you are to stand a chance this second time around, you better hope that you’ve both evolved…. So, take the time to create new routines, new habits for you as a couple, new patterns… And in order to do this, you must go slowly enough to not risk just sliding back into your old behaviors.
And so, give yourself time to digest the news. Figure out what it implies for you both, and be sure to reserve your right to take your time.
Mistake #2: Give him too much of your attention too soon
By this, I mean jumping from months or weeks of no contact with your ex, to suddenly texting and talking on the phone constantly.
This is important in the beginning, but you should keep it in mind during the whole time that you will be together as a couple, btw.
Don’t go from talking once a month to talking every 5 minutes in a matter of days. I know you are probably ecstatic to realize your ex still has feelings for you and wants to get back together… But do you know how he got to this point?
By missing you.
I know, after months or years apart, you will both be tempted to fill your cups with love and each other, and that’s a good thing! But it does not mean that you should act on all your impulses either.
Remember, just because you (think you are) certain today that you want to get back together with your ex, does not mean you will feel as certain tomorrow. And if you guys are in too deep too fast, you will soon start feeling either trapped or like you need to go back on your steps.
You might even start resenting each other and start blaming the relationship for your unhappiness or discomfort.
So, give yourselves the space you both need to feel things, to hear your hearts, to let your feelings reveal themselves to you naturally.
Let him miss you and create room for you to miss him.
Mistake #3: Withhold your love
Just because you shouldn’t go from 0 to 100 000 in a matter of days, does not mean you should withhold your love either.
If you agreed to consider getting back together with your ex, then do just that and allow your heart to open up to him again.
Don’t stay stuck in your fear of getting hurt again and deny him your love in the name of the “I was burned once” narrative.
If you think like that, then there’s no point in trying again.
Allow yourself to slowly express your love, honestly, and without playing games, but without being naively intense either.
It’s a delicate balance that might take fine-tuning and practice: don’t avoid him, withhold your love and affection, or play games, but do allow space for you both to miss each other during the day.
Mistake #4: Be so afraid to lose them again that you don’t dare be honest
Sometimes, especially when we’ve already lost someone we loved and that person comes back, we get so scared of possibly losing them again, that we unconsciously (or consciously) stop ourselves from saying the hard stuff that we might need to say.
Don’t do that. Don’t act out of fear. Don’t stop yourself from saying the things you know you need to say.
I understand that it’s difficult to find the balance between wanting to discuss past issues to make sure they are resolved, and not wanting to bring up the past constantly in your new relationship with your ex.
That said, if you want that relationship to be stronger than the first time around, then you will need to build it on honesty.
I can say, from personal experience, that honesty (among other things) makes the strongest relationships.
Mistake #5: Try to make your ex jealous
Do not actively seek out opportunities to make your ex jealous.
If you need to be honest about something that might make your ex jealous, then, by all means, do tell him. As I mentioned previously, honesty is, in my opinion, the best policy. Of course, you should have secrets, but you shouldn’t withhold information that could potentially hurt your significant other later. Especially if there is a possibility that he could hear the truth from someone other than you.
You’re trying to rebuild trust between you two, remember? This means, sometimes, you have to make hard decisions.
Related post: What does it really mean to trust someone?
That being said, do not actively try to manipulate them and look for ways to make them jealous.
That is of poor taste, and your ex might even read right through your little games. And it would be bad news for your new relationship.
Mistake #6: Lose the relationships you built with other people while you were broken up
After ‘losing myself’ in my ex a little too much, too fast, and too soon during our first few days/weeks back together, I started to feel very uneasy and unhappy.
It took me a little while to figure out that I was allowing my ex to completely take over my life (again), at the cost of all my other friendships.
By “taking over” I mean how much he started affecting my thoughts, my choices, and decisions. The constant texting/Facetiming/WhatsApping during most of the (so few) hours of break we both had from our very busy schedules, etc.
It all became so emotionally demanding that I had zero energy left for anyone or anything else. And so, for a couple of weeks, my ex became the only other “relationship” or “activity” I had.
Thank God I snapped out of it.
Incidentally, this was one of the mistakes I had made in the past, during our first 5 years together.
And so this time around, that oh so familiar behavior (that I had forgotten during our years apart) left a bitter taste in my mouth. To the point where it almost made me reject the idea of getting back with him altogether.
Because of, ya know, resentment, bitterness, and blaming him instead of blaming myself.
Again, recipe for relationship suicide.
Mistake #7: Lose the relationship you built with yourself
During those first few weeks back with my ex, I also (finally) realized how much I had neglected, and was missing, the relationship I had built with myself for the past 2 years.
And that was p-r-e-c-i-o-u-s.
I got so absorbed into doing things right, figuring out how to be there for him, and constantly trying to make time for us to talk between the 6-hour time difference and our (mostly his, particularly) demanding schedules, that I completely put aside my own needs.
All in the name of love.
By trying to “make the relationship work”, I forgot to “make myself work”.
I was denying myself all the things I now know I need to function properly: time to be alone with my thoughts, time to journal, time in nature, time to exercise and stretch, time to prepare food adapted to my (at times, super demanding) diet (see here), etc.
All the things I was already barely fitting in my free time off work when we were broken up. Now, I had completely discarded them when we got back together.
Here’s the thing, (one of) the very reason why my ex wanted to get back together was because of all the changes he had seen in me during our 2 years apart. Changes that had been a direct result of my unwavering dedication to my mental and physical health.
Losing all that, even in the name of love, would probably prove fatal for our relationship.
Ironic, isn’t it?
Good thing my body and my mind didn’t take 15 years this time to let me know I was on the wrong path. They told me immediately by making me feel like shit, pretty fast.
I’m glad I listened and stepped on the breaks just in time.
Mistake #8: Think of it as “getting back together” rather than as “starting a new relationship”
When attempting to get back with your ex, you are at risk of settling back into your previous patterns as a couple, especially if you go super fast.
But why should you need to take your time when getting back together with your ex? After all, it’s not like it’s someone new, isn’t it? You do know each other already and things are so… familiar! Right??
That’s precisely why you should take your time and go slow: to make sure you don’t step into your old (comfortable but at times destructive) patterns.
You need to think of it as “building a new relationship” with that person, rather than “getting back together” with them.
Because the way you frame things in your mind determines how you will behave.
If you think of it as “getting back”, then you may well just reproduce your old patterns. But if instead, you think of it as “starting a new relationship” with Ben or Susan… then you will be doing just that: start a new relationship, with new habits, new patterns, new joys, and new worries.
So, let’s wrap this up, shall we?
Do not put undue pressure on yourself by committing too early and too fast to your ex-boyfriend.
Do you know what will happen if you realize later that you sacrificed things you weren’t willing to sacrifice for your ex? You will resent him, and that is relationship suicide right there.
Instead of settling back into old patterns, take the time to build a new relationship with your ex.
Are you thinking of getting back together with your ex? What is stopping you, or better yet, how’s that going for you?