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The dos and don’ts of getting back together with an ex

Just like not every couple is meant to be, not all breakups are meant to be either. If you and your ex have decided to give love another shot, we’re sharing some expert tips for making it work the second time around.

Couple laughing together while sitting on floor

Don’t rush into things

Rushing into things means you’re trying to avoid some truths about your situation. Slow down, warns Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., (aka “Dr. Romance”) psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage (Adams Media). “If it’s going to work, it’s better if you go more slowly, and you’ll have a chance to build a better foundation than before,” she explains.

Do make sure you’re both in this together

You can’t make things work on your own. “Make sure your ex is as determined to correct the old problems as you are,” affirms Tessina. “If he is blaming you for everything that went wrong, disaster is imminent,” she says. And on the flip side, if you’re still blaming your ex, it’s just as big a problem — work together, not against each other.

Do seek counseling

To better improve your chances at a fresh start, insist on couples therapy for both of you. “Pre-commitment therapy can help you find out the pitfalls and whether you’ve solved the old problems,” explains Tessina. She also suggests considering seeing a therapist on your own, to get expert help to decide if you’re dating for the right reasons.

Don’t expect it to be easy

No relationship, whether it’s with your ex or someone new, is going to be easy all the time. “Don’t expect relationships to always be easy and comfortable, says Dr. Todd Creager, a leading expert and author of two books including The Long, Hot Marriage. “Hang in there and get help if needed and see if your relationship can not only survive through tough times but also thrive from the maturation process that each person goes through.”

Don’t neglect why you broke up in the first place

It’s important to know why you broke up with your ex before getting back together. “If the reason you broke up still exists, then you should expect more of the same,” explains April Masini, relationship expert who writes the critically acclaimed Ask April advice column. She often hears from a lot of readers on her website who write in following an attempt at reconciliation with an ex where the same problems rear their ugly heads. “But now, they’re back in the same place they were before the first breakup, but angrier, more frustrated and sometimes more desperate,” she explains. “If you didn’t change, he didn’t change, the circumstances didn’t change, you’ll end up broken up again.”

If there was cheating, do consider your role

“If you broke up because of an incidence of cheating, and the person is not a chronic cheater or liar, and you see your part in the cheating incidence, even if you were not the person doing the cheating — then there is a good chance you can work toward a healthy reunion and a long-term relationship,” says Masini. She explains that if you broke up because of a cheating incident and are willing to work on the reasons why it happened, what your part was in the problem and can let go of the past, you should absolutely consider getting back together. “Use the incident as an opportunity for greater intimacy.”

When to back away

  • One of you is putting way more effort into making things work than the other
  • You’ve tried more than twice and it’s still not working
  • He’s being emotionally or physically abusive
  • You’re unhappy

More about breakups

He wants me back: 7 Steps to moving forward
How to say goodbye to your bad boy for good
Awkward: When you break up but don’t break the lease

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