Not all relationships deserve a take two. But if you do want to give your ex another chance, there are steps you can take to get back together.
Relationships can be like movies. The first story ends and everyone moves on to something else. Or, the cast reunites for a sequel … or trilogy … or franchise.
While some sequels are better than the original, many are Razzie-worthy dumpster fires that ruin the very memory of what made the original so great.
In other words, reuniting with a former flame can be a great idea or a terrible idea. It all comes down to your unique sitch. But, if you know in your gut getting back together with your ex is a good idea, we gotchu.
Here’s a rundown of seven stages to help you rekindle a relationship.
Okay, so you broke up. Someone was dumped. Someone did the dumping. Or maybe there was a mutual “all the best to you.” Your friends and family all heard about the breakup. A lot. Maybe some of them even saw it go down. Whatever the case, it’s over … or is it!?
Here’s how to navigate some common stages of the journey to a relationship sequel with your ex.
1. Bubble space
This is the kindergarten teacher term for “no contact.” No talking, no touching, no texting. This gives you and your ex some space to cool down. Whether the breakup was heated or ice-cold, there’s bound to be some lingering intense emotions. So give it time and space to get back to room temp.
NGL, this stage can be very lonely and even scary. The good news is that things should get easier with each passing day. So, try to just sit in the alone time and enjoy. Sort of like one of those sound baths out near Joshua Tree. You squirm at first in the awkwardness of it, but eventually, you relax into it.
P.S. This me-time doesn’t have to be lonely! Reach out to friends and family and talk it out. Be sure to listen, too. Most people have a breakup war story.
If your friends start to glaze over with boredom, tell a therapist how you’re feeling about the breakup. And for extra catharsis, go ahead and make that epic breakup playlist.
2. Defining yourself without them
This alone time might lead you to some pretty surprising epiphanies about yourself. Free of your ex’s gaze, you might get to know who you are and who you’re not. With your ex out of the picture, you’re free of their opinions or even their lack of opinions. You’ll notice what’s important to you without having to think about how it relates to someone else.
Notice how you spend your time, how you dress, what music you listen to, and what shows you marathon. And, more importantly, notice how you feel on your own. You might feel elated at first but then lonely or wistful for the past.
When you reminisce, try to be brutally honest about your relationship. Looking at the past through rose-colored glasses will lead you to repeat the same patterns over and over again.
PSA: Even if you start to feel a sense of inner peace, it’s totally normal to miss your ex. Just try to be patient with the process and don’t reach out before you’re really ready.
Think of it like getting a tattoo. Do you really want that dolphin on your lower back? If a few months go by and you seriously want that ink, it might be time to make contact.
3. Dip a toe in the water
If your ex has gone through a similarly productive post-break-up journey, you might start to re-establish contact. Keep the stakes low and the timing appropriate. A daytime text here or there. Maybe a call while you’re running errands. Keep it authentic but keep healthy boundaries.
Also, try not to pry about their solo journey and steer clear of bragging about yours. If you feel pangs of jealousy or competitiveness, this might be a sign that you’re not fully healed from the hurt.
The key here is to offer up an olive branch without expecting anything back. Be brave, be open and be honest. But don’t lay it on too thick or too fast. Remember, too much water on a flower will lead to drown town.
4. The reboot date
And now for the second first date. The sequel has begun. You might have some serious jitters going into this, and the stakes might feel super high. That’s why it’s uber important to lead with your head and not your heart … or other body parts.
Those pheromones are going to be exchanged once again and it might make you feel all a-flutter. Whoa, somebody changed their body lotion. But try to keep it PG so that you can really connect with your ex and see what’s what. At least during dinner.
You both might feel the need to shed some clothing by the time the check arrives. Sex at this point isn’t technically break-up sex (because you took that crucial no-contact time apart) but proceed with caution. And like any first date, don’t take it for granted that there will be a second one. Slow and steady is key.
Pro tip: Meditation is a great idea always but especially if you’re dealing with relationship troubles. According to a 2015 study, meditating can improve cognitive control, emotion regulation, and empathy. This, in turn, could lead to better decision-making.
5. No news is good news
Once you’ve hit your dating stride with your ex, you might settle into a new dynamic that might feel strangely … undramatic. And that’s not a bad thing! You’re probably still on your best behavior, but try to establish some communication about what you feel you need from this new chapter. Be clear about what you expect from them and ask what they expect from you.
Don’t forget to maintain any new self-care routines you might have picked up during your time alone. You’re not entirely the same as you were during the last phase of your relationship, so check out how your partner reacts to this new you.
And again, communication is crucial. Setting new boundaries and moving away from old triggers can help solidify this new beginning.
6. A whole new you two
This new version of you is spending time with a new version of them, so this will inevitably lead to a new dynamic in your relationship. You’re basically a new couple trying out a new romance in a new era.
But, hey, you might not be into this new dynamic. Who knows? Maybe you’ve made it through these six long stages only to realize that the breakup was a good idea in the first place.
The only way to know is to stay open and present. Does this feel like a new beginning or just a repeat? Are you feeling the same as before or are you feeling renewed and relaxed with this new version of your relationship? Honor your feelings and discuss them with friends, family, and/or a therapist.
7. Redefining love
If you actually are into this new version of your duo, then the word “love” might take on a whole new meaning. What was maybe an infatuation could now have a deeper level of devotion. What was once raw and tumultuous might now be fulfilling in a peaceful yet powerful way.
There’s no predicting what it will look like when you reconnect for this romantic sequel. So, continue to communicate your feelings and be clear with your boundaries.
Let’s back waaaay up. Before you even embark on any of the stages of reconnecting with an ex, it’s crucial to run a thorough diagnostic test.
Why did the relationship end in the first place?
The reasons for a breakup can be a convoluted mess. Your reasons for the breakup might be different than your ex’s reasons.
However, there are certain situations where the reasons are very clear. Be very wary of reconnecting with someone who wasn’t faithful or made you feel bad about yourself. Being cheated on can have a major impact on your mental health and can lead to anxiety concerns. And you don’t deserve that, fam.
What was your role in the breakup?
It’s one thing to totally forgive your ex for whatever they did to hurt you. But swallowing your pride and taking responsibility for any of your own less-than-loving behavior goes even further toward helping you avoid the pitfalls of the past.
Do you have a pattern of similar breakups?
There might be patterns in your own behavior that contributed to the breakup. Factors like stress or prolonged trauma can make it really difficult to maintain a relationship. Have you taken a good look at your side of the street?
Again, self-care ultimately does wonders not only for you but for any relationships you have, too.
Why do you even want to get back with them?
Be super honest about exactly why you feel like you want to get back together with your ex. Maybe you feel like you’ve both gone through some changes that might make things work this time.
However, you should prob take a long pause if:
- You don’t know who you are without them.
- You miss the familiar routines you enjoyed together.
- You’re scared that you won’t find another special someone.
- You think getting back with your ex will solve all your problems.
These are all signs that you might need more time to focus on yourself.
Do they want to get back together with you?
Bottom line: You don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you. As much as your ego might be dinged pretty badly by this kind of rejection, you simply can’t control someone else’s desires.
What is different this time around?
Getting back together with an ex takes a lot of compromises. What are your personal deal breakers? Learned behaviors that are super annoying can be easily changed. (Do they still forget to close the microwave when they’re clearly done reheating their veggie sausage?) But an entrenched difference in values regarding big life plans is a different story.
If any of the above questions raises a red flag, then getting back together with your ex might be a nonstarter. (Or non-re-starter in this case.) Hypervigilance might dampen your romantic mood but you might want to be on the lookout for other red flags that are waving around like a scene from Les Mis.
Sometimes the sequel romance begins, the promises of change have been made, and the makeup sex has been banging. And yet, someone isn’t putting their money where their mouth is.
If you or your partner notice that the new boundaries that were discussed aren’t actually being implemented, this is a sign that nothing much will change from the previous go-’round.
Another red flag is when someone in the relationship just can’t let sleeping dogs lie. If you or your partner continue to bring up the past, then the hurts of the past simply won’t heal, especially if you keep picking at them.
Speaking of hurts, you should def do some soul searching before getting back with an ex. Ask yourself questions like:
If the answer to any of these is a “yes” you prob shouldn’t get back with them.
Resources for abusive relationships
If you need help leaving an abusive relationship, please know you’re not alone ❤️. There are lots of amazing resources that can help.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers 24/7 support on the phone or online. You can call 800.799.SAFE (7233) or text “START” to 88788 for free and confidential support.
You can also check out this Greatist list of 22 amazing groups and organizations that offer support to anyone experiencing domestic violence.
To help your sequel romance hit its stride, try some of these tips for moving forward with a new and improved relationship.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Did we mention it’s crucial to communicate? Be honest with each other and with yourself, but also be loving and patient. Drop the dueling swords and pointed fingers and talk in terms of your own feelings. For example, “I feel like [blank] when you do [blank].” Rather than guilting your partner or blaming them for not reading your mind, you’ll probably be greeted by some nice, warm empathy.
Make time for romance
Life can get hectic AF. So, if you don’t have time for a night out, plan smaller micro-dates. Setting aside time for each other is a very simple and very powerful gift. Even a 20-minute coffee break or a cute little Zoom sesh can go a long way.
Psst. If your co-workers aren’t around, sprinkle some sexting into your chats.
Spice up your sex life
Speaking of strong sexuality, remember to break new ground in the bedroom. Maybe the routines that you fell into in your past relationship got boring. Surprise each other with new sex venues (a clean kitchen countertop?), new rhythms (slow-slow-fast rather than fast-fast-slow?), or a new wardrobe (“Bridgerton” cosplay, anyone?).
Also, as unsexy as it might sound, scheduling a sex sesh might actually stoke the fires of anticipation.
There aren’t any hard and fast rules for getting back together with your ex. But there are some stages that might indicate that you’re heading toward a sequel romance.
After the initial breakup, it’s helpful to take time to be totally on your own and to be brutally honest with yourself about what worked and what didn’t work the first time around. You might redefine yourself independent from your partner’s definition of you.
Through self-examination, you might find that you’re interested in reconnecting with your ex. Or you might find that you’re better off moving on to greener pastures.