He jetted off to travel abroad and you were consumed by your dream internship in a big city. Or, you both bummed it on the couch at home and you just happen to live eight hours apart. Whatever the reason, you and the person you were seeing at school decided to take a break over the summer. But now that summer’s over, you’ll be back in the classroom before you can even say “Welcome Week.” And, of course, that means he or she will be there too. So what do you do now? If you’re nervous about where your relationship stands, check out these tips from dating coach Jasbina Ahluwalia for bouncing back from a relationship break.
Step 1: Get Ready to See Him or Her Again
Seeing him or her for the first time in the fall after a break can be either a really happy, exciting moment, or a really awkward one. Luckily, you do have some control over which way the situation sways. An easy way to initiate the “reunion” is to text him or her a few days before you return with something simple, like: “Can’t wait to be back at school! When do you move in?” It eases him or her into thinking about seeing you again, and it’s also a great way to get back in touch if you haven’t talked in a while. Set up a time to grab coffee or plan to sit together at a class meeting. That way, you won’t be flustered when you accidentally bump into him or her in the mailroom after not seeing him or her for three months.
Step 2: Feel it Out
Sometimes, it’s easy to tell how your old flame is feeling once you see him again—he or she will either run up to you to scoop you into his arms for a kiss, or he or she will go for the awkward friend hug (the worst!). And while a lot of what he or she does will probably seem hard to read, it’s important to tune into how he acts towards you, because it could be a major indicator of how things will play out now that you two are back at school. Three months is a long time to be apart, and jumping right back into a relationship at the drop of a hat can be difficult. Be attentive to how flirty, awkward, or distant your guy or girl might seem. Likewise, be aware of the vibes you could be giving him or her.
3. Don’t Set the Bar too High
As we said before, summer is a long three months to be apart, and even if you two decide to kick things back into gear with your relationship, it still might take you a while to get back into the groove that you had last year… and that’s okay! A lot of things can change in three months, especially if either of you was traveling or working over the summer, so the dynamic of your relationship might be different this time around. And a new school year also means changes in classes and schedules, which might eliminate the Wednesday lunch dates you guys used to have last semester.
Don’t get discouraged if things don’t fall into place perfectly right away—few things do in the first few weeks of school! The easiest way to deal with any changes is to embrace them, and try not to put a lot of pressure on a relationship that’s just as rusty as you are in class after a three-month vacation.
4. Have “The Talk"
If your relationship seems different or awkward once you return to school and you’re not really sure what’s going on, sit down with your guy or girl and talk about your current (and future) relationship status. It doesn’t have to be a super serious, intense session. Just tell your guy you want to catch up and see where things are with the two of you now that you’re back at school. It can be frustrating and nerve-wracking if the responsibility falls on you to initiate the conversation, but you’ll be happy you did once you know exactly where the two of you stand and where to take things from there—especially since you’re most likely going to be seeing your guy around campus pretty consistently.
“Be honest and upfront with him about your feelings,” advises Ahluwalia. “Express yourself using a confident and positive emotional tone. Do not expect him to read your mind, and do not attempt to read his.”
Whether you want to completely pick up where you left off last year or if summer made you realize you’d rather be single, you need to tell him or her what you’re thinking. Leaving any confusion or ambiguity in your relationship is only going to cause trouble and hurt feelings. Tell each other what you each want out of the relationship and what summer did or didn’t change for you. And if you decide not to get back together, talk about things like hooking up with other people, seeing each other out at parties, etc. Even if you don’t end up getting back together, having complete transparency in regards to what you want and expect out of each other will eliminate a lot of problems later down the road.
5. Don’t Stress!
Not all relationships survive the summer, and if yours didn’t, that might just be an indicator that it wasn’t a very strong one to begin with—or, more likely, that he or she isn’t worth it!
Ahluwalia says it’s important to be open to the possibility that your guy or girl might not be on the same page as you are. “It is about respecting yourself as well as him enough to truly listen to each other’s feelings and expectations, and thereby determining whether expectations are sufficiently aligned to continue investing in the relationship,” she says.
Stress is one of the worst things to start a new year off with, so if you and your guy or girl didn’t get back together after summer, try not to let it ruin the excitement of being back at school. No matter your situation, the start of a new school year means 10,000 other new and exciting things happening and appearing for you to focus on, so embrace them!
Speaking of starting new—a fresh school year also means new guys! So if your summer break turned out to be more permanent than you thought, that just means it’s time to get started on scoping out (and making the first move with) all of the new guys on campus!