Most people will decide to give things another go with an ex-partner at some point in their lives.
Some will do so years later, after wounds have been licked and hearts have been pieced back together. Others will do so in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, deciding that a split was the wrong decision in the first place.
But do breakups and makeups actually work?
The long-story-short answer is that every couple is made up of two (or more!) unique individuals, with a different set of personality traits and life experiences. It’s impossible to say with universal certainty that getting back together after a breakup is a good idea for everyone.
But equally, there are certain scenarios in which a breakup makeup might actually not be the biggest mistake of your life. Here are some of the situations I’ve observed from my own experiences, as well as watching friends and family experience the rollercoaster ride that is love.
Maybe it’s your first ever relationship and one or both of you are lacking the emotional maturity to stay and work out the problems you are experiencing.
There is widely documented evidence of an emotional age gap between boys and girls, but a lot of emotional intelligence is situational: it depends on how you were brought up, your self-awareness and attempts at self-development, your temperament e.g. are you sensitive to criticism.
It can take time to develop the communication and empathy skills required for a long-term relationship to be successful.
Sometimes breaking up with someone you really care about and spending some time apart can make you realise any unreasonable demands you made, ways you failed to listen to and meet your partners needs and similarly, it can help you realise how they weren’t meeting your needs.
Reconnecting at a later date when you’ve each had some more life experience can give you the toolkit you need to make your relationship run smoothly the second time around, whether that’s developing your interpersonal skills in another relationship or even through the workplace.
Maybe you’ve been offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go travelling or you’ve landed an awesome promotion that doesn’t fit with a partner’s career plans.
There’s nothing wrong with saying ‘we’re right for each other, but just not right now’. If you can agree to go your separate ways on amicable terms and focus on achieving your personal goals then years later you will not resent the other person for holding you back.
If you end up getting back in touch — either deliberately, or by sheer coincidence — then the things that you have achieved will be your conversational ammo and you will be able to develop a mutual respect and admiration for what they have accomplished.
This one really depends on you having different things that you want to achieve in the short-term, but not conflicting long-term aspirations.
If you are debating getting back together with a partner, it is important to have a conversation about your ‘non-negotiables’, these are things that you absolutely do not see yourself compromising on. These may be things such as where you want to live, how you want to manage your finances, whether you want children, or attitude to monogamy.
If you find yourself with conflicting non-negotiables then it’s more than likely that the relationship won’t work because you will resent each other. It might seem like a brutal conversation to have, but it’s one that will save you heartache further down the line.
Needing to work on yourself
Perhaps due to unforeseen circumstances such as grief or illness, you find yourself acting out of character. In periods of emotional distress or physical ailment, you probably need to spend some time working on yourself before you feel capable of committing to somebody you care about.
This doesn’t apply to everyone, as many will recover from an addiction or depression with the help and support of a loved one. Others, however, may feel that they need to focus solely on getting better before they can truly learn to love themselves and in turn, show up for someone else emotionally.
Mistakes are made
This one is perhaps the most controversial scenario, with many people believing in the sanctity of a monogamous relationship and expecting devotion and faithfulness from their partner ‘until death do us part’.
There are many individuals whose relationship is set up with these expectations of fidelity, whose partners either come clean about cheating or who get caught in the act.
As a friend or loved one, it’s very easy to say ‘you’re better than that, don’t take them back’, but the situations are rarely ever black and white when you’re in them.
If you feel that you can really, genuinely forgive your partner for their ‘transgression’ without holding it against them, and are prepared to work on the reasons the betrayal happened then go for it. It’s advisable that one or both of you seeks some form of therapy to address the underlying problems in your relationship and work to rebuild your trust and develop better communication strategies.
Alternatively, perhaps you feel that you could operate in and thrive within a less conventional relationship dynamic such as polyamory. Monogamy isn’t for everyone, and there is certainly something to be said for the levels of honesty that a healthy polyamorous relationship requires to function.
People might be judgemental, they might warn you it’s a bad idea but then again, they might surprise you and be really supportive of your decision.
At the end of the day, as long as you believe your partner has the ability to make you feel loved, appreciated and special then who cares what the rest of the world thinks?
Have you broken up with someone, only later to get back together and have a successful relationship? Tell me your story.
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