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Should You Get Back Together?

Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistFebruary 23, 2016
From the WebMD Archives

Your relationship didn’t work the first time around, but now you have a chance to try again. The question is: should you get back together?

There’s no easy answer – it has everything to do with your personal circumstance. Still, there are certain considerations that can help you make this decision.

Below are 5 signs that you might want to try again:

  • You are both willing to talk about the issues that drove you apart. Don’t be too quick to leave the past in the past. When people do this, they unconsciously carry that past into the present. Though it may take a little time before the past reappears, it will. So, talk about the issues that divided you. Work toward truly understanding each other’s thoughts and feelings about them and talk about whether you are willing to work to get past them. You don’t need to immediately know whether you will be able to resolve the issues, but you do need to know that you are both committed to trying. After that, have the necessary conversations to do your best to work through them.
  • You are both willing to take responsibility for the relationship problems. “It takes two to make a relationship work” has become a cliché for a reason – it’s true. It takes two to make a relationship fail, too. So, if you want a different outcome this time, you and your partner both need to consider the role that you each played in the relationship problems. What did you do that contributed to the failure of the relationship, and what you are willing to do to make it right? Look to your partner to answer the same questions.
  • You are both willing to forgive. As you consider whether to reunite with your partner, you must also consider whether you can forgive your partner for past transgressions – and whether you are willing to try again in light of them. You might forgive, but still decide not to reunite. For instance, you might forgive your partner for stealing from you because you understand that it was part of a drug addiction, but you might still decide that you aren’t willing to enter back into a relationship with them as they continue to struggle with that problem.
  • You see each other in a positive light and have warm feelings toward each other. Love isn’t the only force that brings couples back together – there are many other reasons that people return to relationships, like fear of being alone or wanting to recapture the past. While love doesn’t have to be the main motivator, your efforts are much more likely to pay off if positive feelings naturally bubble to the surface as you talk or think about each other.
  • Your “ex” has the characteristics of a good partner. You’ll have better odds of a healthy relationship with a partner who is truly ready for a committed relationship and can communicate their thoughts and needs. You also want a partner who will respect you, act in a caring way, appreciate you, and share your values. And it’s particularly important that you feel good about yourself when you are with your partner.

Of course these 5 points alone won’t give you a definitive “right answer” about whether you should try again. But take time to consider them carefully and honestly. You may realize that a “round two” would likely just lead to future heartache – or you may discover that your past relationship is worth another try.

Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.

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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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