What To Do If You’ve Broken Up:
Should You Try and Make Up?
If you’re in the unfortunate situation of having broken up, read on to see our therapist’s advice on what you can do to get your ex back or decide to stay apart.
First of all, you have to remain rational.
How do you feel when you get a text or an email, or you see a Facebook message, or some other indication of your ex occupying space in your social environment? Do you feel a sinking sense of fear, or some excitement, perhaps?
Or do you simply feel anger? Perhaps you feel excitement and glee, because this seems like it could be the start of a new renewal of your relationship?
Whatever, the first thing you have to do in the face of all these emotions is to remain rational and calm. And you have to take things slowly. Perhaps it was plunging too quickly into the relationship in the first place which did the damage for you last time around!
But whether it was or it wasn’t, one of the things you really need to know is that all the unresolved problems in your relationship will come back at you again – unless both of you have done some serious emotional growth work in between breaking up and getting back together.
Video – Relationship Therapy
So here are some questions that really need to be answered “yes” before you get back together.
And they need to be answered in the affirmative by BOTH of you…. But then, you knew that didn’t you?
1 Plan ahead so that when things get difficult you have some way of dealing with them.
You see, the problem is that unless you make some effort to focus on the areas which act as emotional triggers, simply wanting to be back with your partner (maybe because you feel lonely) isn’t going to change anything.
In fact, if you feel disappointed that they’re no different this time around than they were the last time, getting back together can be even worse than it was the first time. You will have more disappointment to deal with….
If you’re getting over a breakup, to go back into the same territory can be challenging.
That’s why you really need to have some strategy to deal with, if not eliminate, the anger, the shock, and the sadness – not to mention the fear – you’ll feel if or when you realize your ex hasn’t fundamentally changed from who they were!
And to be honest, if you try to save your marriage, or save your relationship, you might well have to do some personal growth work – that could mean seeing a therapist together, or perhaps doing shadow work, but it certainly means exploring the issues which caused you to split up in the first place.
Ask yourself honestly – are you ready to do that? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to bring your ex back and to live happily ever after?
2 As you know, a lot of us wear masks which hide the real self we feel and believe ourselves to be, deep down inside.
Sometimes we think we’re socially unacceptable in some way or we feel we’re not good enough, or we aren’t lovable, or perhaps even that we’re bad. Most people believe they aren’t as beautiful, intelligent, clever, self-confident, or whatever, as the next person. It’s the human condition…..
But wearing a “mask” into any relationship (where the essence of success is openness and honesty) is a recipe for disaster.
That’s not to say we should reveal every aspect of ourselves, but it’s certainly necessary to be open and honest with your partner to show them who you really are, and for them to show you who they really are. In other words, what this amounts to is no trickery, no lies, no deceit, and no games. Otherwise, what chance of success do you have?
Now, are you willing to be ruthlessly authentic and honest with your partner?
3 Are you committed to each other? Are you committed to each other enough to stick together so that you can win her back or win him back?
There has to be some kind of commitment that you’re going to stay together for a while (or permanently) while you work on the changes that are necessary for you to rebuild a harmonious and loving relationship.
You need some kind of contract or agreement which is actually a statement of your readiness to stay in the relationship and hold hands, both physically and metaphorically, when the inevitable issues between you arise, and particularly when you trigger each other into a vulnerable state.
4 Are you both prepared to take it slowly, and to really work at rebuilding the relationship?
It’s probably worth you doing this if you really love your partner or somewhere deep down you believe this person might be your soul mate. Then of course it’s worth rebuilding the relationship and finding out how to get the relationship advice that will bring you back together.
But there are traps here: if it was just sex that kept you together in the first place, you may find that the desire to jump into bed to reconnect is very strong, but really, is that going to deal with the issues which broke you apart in the first place?
Going on dates while you learn more about each other, hoping to see each other with eyes that are not blinded by “the scales of infatuation” is a very worthwhile exercise. After all, you might want to be friends before you become lovers, and you might want to be lovers before you try for the soulmate status!
A good question to ask yourself is how safe it feels to reveal yourself with your ex partner – if you find you’re hiding parts of yourself, or not completely trusting them, then your choice is simple – allow the breakup to go ahead and find a new partner, or get a commitment to work on the difficulties between you that cause you to feel this way.
5 Do you have the same goals for the relationship?
Video – goals in a relationship
The question here, really, is whether or not you both want the same thing in the long run. For example, does one of you want to get married and one of you has no intention of doing that EVER!
Or suppose he wants children, and you don’t. These are fundamental differences which really need to be examined. Not many people who are way apart on important issues like these can establish a successful long-term relationship without one of them either losing their hopes and aspirations or having their heart broken.
You need to be at least on the same page, have the same expectations, and generally speaking want to move in the same direction in life.
The problem is that most people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they spend planning their lives! So sit down and talk about what you want!
If you want to avoid a breakup in the future, and if you want to get your ex back so you don’t breakup again, first you must find out whether there’s enough common ground between the two of you for your relationship to work long-term.
6 Accept that human relationships are never perfect.
It’s extraordinary to me that some people really seem to think that just by getting back together with their ex, they will mysteriously learn the lessons they needed to know in the first place to feel close and connected with their partner.
In fact the truth of the matter is that we all come from an emotionally wounded place in childhood – which means that during our childhood nothing was perfect and there were emotional wounds inflicted on us, no matter how well-intentioned our parents may have been! And these wounds need to be dealt with for us to grow into emotional maturity and equip us to be in relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend, a lover, or a spouse.
From years of working with people in relationship, I know there are very few men and women who are truly prepared to do the emotional exploration and repair work necessary to overcome their wounds and in the process find out how they can get their ex back.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be big scale work. It only needs to be something which explores mutual understanding and empathy, the kind of work from you which can move forward together. This could, for example, simply be something like going to see a relationship counselor together to discuss what it is that “triggers” you and causes the fights.
Unless you do this you might find you’re not going to get over your breakup and you’re not going to get back with your ex.
And that’s true even if you know you made a mistake in breaking up.
Everybody has a level of tolerance for fights, disagreements and arguments, and it’s better to do some emotional work so they are reduced in number and the impact of them is much less, rather than to let them fester in the relationship simply because you don’t know what to do about them.
7 Accept that relationship breakup may be the right thing for you.
Just because you feel a large amount of pain at the ending of your relationship and the loss of your loved one doesn’t necessarily mean you were wrong to breakup.
There’s a theory in psychology that we come together to heal the wounds, resentments and issues of the past (i.e. childhood) , and if we don’t heal them in one relationship we will move into another relationship, taking the same stuff with this. Often the person we meet will also give us the opportunity to heal these emotional wounds.
So you may as well do it in your current relationship as in the next one!
And doing so can give you a true sense of value and worth, and perhaps also a sense of mutual appreciation which will grow into true love.
But if that’s not going to happen, you may have to accept that sometimes a breakup is the only thing that’s going to allow you to move forward and truly show who you are to the world.
In fact, sometimes a breakup is not an opportunity to get your ex partner back, but a chance to have a NEW relationship which will really make you feel good – perhaps even the relationship your heart desires.
So the act of breaking up can allow some people to grow as individuals, perhaps discovering how to be assertive and confident, so they can move forward into a much better relationship.
And whatever you do, you should aim to find a way of making sure that love comes out victorious over fear.