It’s Back On..Or Is It? : How to Navigate Getting Back Together

Here’s a riddle for you: What’s covered in red flags, fairy dust, and clothes you bought as a gift, only to receive a coupon card? That’s right! It’s your ex. Ill-timed as always, and dripping in tears you cried over them, back in your life. Right on your doorstep. You tell your friends; you check the philosophical corners of Twitter; you look through relevant quotes on Instagram. Everyone seems to have a black and white opinion of your dilemma but here’s the truth: No one ever plans to feel the internal conflict of wanting someone who is no longer yours. No one goes through and mourns a painful breakup imagining an inevitable reconciliation. No one knows the exact right thing to do, because each relationship is only a reality for those who are, or were, in it.

 

There is no manual for what to do when the opportunity to be with someone presents itself, especially someone you’ve already given a turn. Our hearts are not hard-wired to be logical. They are feeling, frustrating organs in tune with hormones, gut instincts, memories, emotions, and habits (good and bad). Likewise, our brains are not always hard-wired for our happiness. They are at times reasonable and cautious to a fault, avoiding risk and missing out on rewards. When it comes to getting back together with an ex, or rekindling a spark with a brief partner, our heads and our hearts must be balanced in decision making.

 

I’d be lying to say I never got back with an ex, only to regret it. I’d be lying to say I turned away an opportunity with an ex, only to realize they passed me by. Everyone makes these decisions and has these thoughts and feelings. And everyone experiences shame and embarrassment for doing so. This is a guide to help you work through the dreams and dilemmas of getting things back on, with no judgment. The world will go on, regardless of lost love, and we’re all human in the end.

 

Let’s start with why. Why do you want to get back together? Why now? Why did you two break up? It’s incredibly easy to see an ex and only see the good times together. Hopefully, the majority of the time was good. This is normal. But it’s not the whole story. We are often afraid of our relationship ventures being failures. A breakup means a mistake was made. It means someone dropped the ball, and therefore, there must be some algorithm to making every failed relationship work. It’s easy to switch the narrative from a breakup being inevitable to being controllable because it makes us feel good to save it.

 

This is not always the case. Breakups are often more than someone making a mistake, or a poor choice. They are more than a problem that can be solved. Breakups happen for many reasons. Sure, many times they’re rooted solvable issues: “You spend too much time with friends,” “You have too much going on,” “You’re not being as affectionate.” These things can be easily addressed, changed, and solved. It might just take someone apologizing and doing better. Boom. Long term-relationship potential, saved. But sometimes it’s more.

 

Maybe you aren’t compatible with people. Maybe you have different beliefs. Maybe the way you love is vastly different. Maybe one person needs help with their self-esteem or mental health. Maybe the feeling of being “in love” is gone, and the only familiarity remains. Maybe you have given each other all you have to give and run out of steam. Maybe life circumstances make the relationship impossible. These are not easily addressed and solvable issues. Going back to these situations with no plan, but only hope for it to “get better in time” leads to indefinite internal struggle and shame. At a certain point, it’s no one’s fault. We all want to love and be loved equally in return, in a way that makes sense. There is not always a villain and a victim. And choosing to say “no” to spark things up again does not make you a villain.

 

As unromantic and uncinematic and it is, getting back together is a logical decision as much as an emotional one. It might take some pros and cons, or many. It also means doing something deemed as “selfish” in every trope of love, desire, and romance in history: Putting your wants, needs, and priorities before someone else’s. It has been conditioned in us all, particularly women, that love and good-naturedness are equivalent to selflessness. We must always love without expectations, give without getting, and live last on the totem pole. It’s easy to do this in romantic relationships. Who wouldn’t hang the moon and stars for their partner? Who wouldn’t sacrifice their own time to be with their favorite person as soon as they can? We all are guilty of not doing for ourselves what we would do for our partners.

 

But in this case, here is a shining opportunity to give yourself the gift of selfishness and autonomy. Ask yourself: “Do I want to be with this person, or am I scared to be alone? Do I want to be with this person, or do I not want them to find someone else? Do I want to be with this person, or do I feel I need to be? Am I happy with this person, or am I just afraid it will be seen as a failure? Does this person give me what I give, or am I making excuses for them? Do I give what I get, or do I float on the efforts of my partner? Do I or my partner have a plan for solving our issues and bettering each other, or are we being too optimistic, and avoiding looming problems?

 

All of these questions are necessary for this process of possibly reconciling. They are also important questions to ask yourself every day of any relationship. If the answer is hesitant and unsure, or if you feel the need to ignore negative gut reactions, perhaps now is not the best time for you to take the leap or stay in the water.  It might not mean forever, but even if it does, know that no love is a failure as long as you learn, grow, and take something away from it. Even a hard lesson is usually worth it in the end.

 

Here’s the bottom line: You matter most. Talk to your friends, your mom, or even the nail artist. Read as many tweets and quotes on love from other’s perspectives as you like. Always get someone who has your best interests in mind to talk to, and always take time to contemplate and think about what your loved ones and peers think. Many just want you to be happy and want you to value your time and feel as much as they do.

But remember, no one else is in your head. No one else has to live with the consequences and rewards of your choices as intimately as you. And no one knows as much about relationships as they pretend to.  That’s part of this process, holding yourself accountable and knowing who you are while recognizing the role of others in your choices. Think long and hard about what makes you happy, and what will going forward. Think long and hard about what you’d tell a friend if they were you, knowing what you know now. Follow your heart and listen to your head and choose the path that has room for both. Be kind to yourself and remember there is no guidebook for every difficult moment. Here at Her Campus, we send you luck and light.