Here are some questions to consider when you’re uncertain about your breakup.
1) Are you afraid of being alone or are you simply lonely?
Loneliness, or the fear you’ll not find another partner, can be much harder to handle than anyone expects. If you’ve got kids together, you may miss those moments that you used to share; the type of moments that only the two people who brought these particular children into the world would find funny or tender.
So first, you need to build skills at handling being on your own, whether it’s single parenting, or enjoying solo Saturday nights. Creating new routines, getting comfortable with your new life. I read an article yesterday by Dr. Patrick Carnes and his advice was: “Learn how to turn loneliness into solitude.”
Once you’ve accomplished this emotionally, you’re far more likely to be assured “getting back together” isn’t based on fear.
2) Are you romanticizing or idealizing the relationship that was?
History and familiarity can be very comforting. You used to smile when he sang in the shower. You had a soft spot for the way she curled up next to you. You miss those things. And memory can romanticize “the way we were” and rediscovering passion can excite and seduce. But what has changed enough for you to trust that whatever broke you apart would be different now?
Try to be more reality-focused on the positives of your ex and the changes they’ve made; quote those reasons to yourself when you’re considering rebooting the relationship rather than the more romantic memories. “He has a steady job now and seems to have matured.” “She’s much more giving than she used to be.”
But remember that your own changes, your own growth are the only things that you have control over. If you do try again, give the “new” relationship between the two of you time to develop to see if you can build and maintain fresh patterns of communication and behavior. This will give you confidence that this relationship has far more healthy potential.
3) Do you believe you and your ex have the capacity to fully forgive?
Forgiveness is key. Both of you must take responsibility for your end of whatever caused the break-up; this is vital for a relationship to reemerge. You have to talk through those disappointments and hurts, give apologies for the impact of your choices on the other, and not rationalize mistakes. What fresh information are you learning? Can you truly leave the past in the past? (This process can be healing whether it’s for emotional closure or for actual reconciliation.)
But it has to be a two-way discussion, and forgiveness must be something you can both offer if you want to move forward into a healthy new chapter together.
4) How will you handle the reactions of others who supported you during the break-up?
Handling other people’s reactions can be difficult as well. The people that love you witnessed the devastation, heard about the fights, the affair, or the silent treatment. They may have misgivings that they either voice openly or keep to themselves.
This is true especially if either of you has trash-talked the other. You may have done the work to forgive, but others may need more time to accept and trust this new alliance. Having open discussions with them about the work you two have done together to explain how things have changed might be necessary to have their support.
If you do decide to try again, remember you want to build a new relationship, with fresh patterns of communication and different expectations. You cannot go back. You can’t recreate what was. But you can gently go forward.
Written By Margaret Rutherford Originally Appeared On Dr. Margaret Rutherford