After my ex-husband and I divorced, I dated a lot. You could say I was sowing my wild oats, or the twenties I didn’t have a chance to experience. I had missed out on figuring out who I was, but also figuring out what I wanted in a partner. So, suddenly single in my mid-thirties, I had a lot of learning to do. I had two boyfriends during those six years of healing, and a few quasi-relationships in between. That time was strewn with breakups – some of which stuck, and some which did not. There were a multitude of reasons why this happened.
So if you’re nursing your breakup wounds and contemplating getting back together with your ex, before you do, make sure you’re not doing it for any of these ten reasons:
1. Habit: A big fat vacuum exists after a breakup. Something (someone) is missing, and you have to readjust to being on your own, without a partner to share things with. This creates an acute yearning for that person, which is easy to label as “it must have been love!”
2. Romanticizing the good: With time and distance, the bad things recede and the good things take center stage in your mind, and you put the guy up on a pedestal.
3. Limited options: Any new potential mate’s appeal wanes in comparison.
4. Laziness: The idea of starting the get-to-know-you process all over again with someone new seems exhausting and dreadful. Not only do you have to spend time with that new person, but you have to tell your stories all over again (or you can cheat by having them read your blog).
5. Comfort: You ex knows your friends, is familiar with the fights you’ve had with your siblings or boss, and knows where your dog likes to be scratched.
6. Jealousy: You hear he is dating, and the knowledge that he is focused on (or having sex with!) someone other than you propels you into action. (See: Ego.)
7. Ego: He doesn’t contact you at all, and his Facebook statuses show him partying in bars and on boats. The realization that he might be over you hurts and is mistaken for an “in love” feeling.
8. Love by association: You spend time with friends who say, “He was a great guy, and I was sad when you split,” sending you into a regret spiral.
9. He comes back: Just when you think you’re over it and start feeling good again, he somehow picks up on it and comes back into your life with compliments and promises (however well-meaning).
10. No single friends: Most of your friends happen to be in relationships or starting new ones, and it makes you miss being in a couple.
MORE: 5 Signs He’s Not the One
But what if none of the above apply? Can there be good reason to get back together? Here are a few:
1. You realized there is something left unexplored, a side to the person you didn’t get to know.
2. With time apart, you’ve grown and have truly come to appreciate one another.
3. The circumstances that drove you apart (a new job, long distance) change.
4. You broke up in haste, over a fight, and get back together because it was stupid to split over boxers on the bathroom floor in the first place.
5. You needed (and are addicted to) the drama of a breakup, and used it to scare yourself and wake up dormant feelings.
6. You need a reminder to why you broke up in the first place. Like #2 above, we forget. It’s human. And when you’re missing someone post-breakup and you know they are experiencing the same feelings at the same time, it connects you. You share a common feeling with that person that no one else can understand.
7. You’re older and more experienced, and now you know what you want, and what’s important to you.
8. You dated a few more people who you thought you “should” be dating, or who fulfill some kind of checklist, and finally got burned enough to learn your lesson.
For me, my ex-boyfriend and I broke up after four months – sweetly and amicably. The timing was off, and there were a few checklist items that each of us was missing. At the time, I really believed that he wasn’t the one for me, and that it was over. I’m glad that I believed that, because it allowed me to fully experience other relationships, explore what I really wanted, and grow. I’m also glad because eight months later, he and I got back together. And a year later, we’re happily married. (You can read the full story about our breakup and eventual makeup here!)
So if you’re contemplating getting back together with your ex, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Whatever that means to you.
Oritte Bendory is a Manhattan based writer and blogger at The Cougel Chronicles: Tales of a Jewish Cougar (Or, If Carrie Bradshaw was Jewish and divorced Big). Her remarriage memoir, “To Love, Cherish & Disobey,” is forthcoming. She is also a former screenwriter and film producer.