How to tell if you can get your ex-partner back and 7 tips to do it
He wasn't just determined to get his ex-girlfriend back; he wanted to marry her. Trouble was, she was just about to marry another man - she was literally at the altar. But true love won out and he got her back anyway, just in the nick of time. Movies - don't you just love them?
The Graduate has got to be one of my all-time favourite films. In rom-com land, the lovelorn girl always gets her boyfriend back, just as the forlorn guy always wins back his girlfriend; sometimes just before the final credit rolls.
But what are your chances of getting back with your ex-partner in real life, outside of Movieville? Getting your ex-boyfriend back must happen if you really love them, shouldn't it? Reunion with your ex-girlfriend is how life is meant to pan out, surely! Because you just love her so much. But alas, life just isn't Hollywood (even if you live in Hollywood!). So if it is possible to get your ex back again, what's the best way to do it?
Well, firstly, is it even possible to get back with your ex after a split?
On getting your ex back: The best part of breaking up is when you're making up
Of course it is. Plenty of now-happy couples have, at one time or another, split up, only to reunite and ultimately be stronger together. You might have been feeling despairing, hurt, obsessed (we always tend to obsess about what makes us very unhappy or happy); but now is the time to really think clearly. You might feel 'in pieces' or that life has become meaningless. It hasn't! These feelings will pass, even if you really don't believe that.
Sure, you might need the emotional dust to settle a bit; take a little time out. But whatever's happened, you need a strategy to deal with it.
How to get your ex back: The first thing to consider
Getting your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend back may be possible and right, but it partly depends on how the relationship ended.
- Did your ex-partner break up with you (or you with them) during a blazing row when feelings were running high? Maybe pride on one or both sides has been preventing you from getting back together ever since.
- Or did they end the relationship after carefully thinking it through over a long period of time? Was it a 'realistic' breakup in that it was planned and really thought through, or a spur-of-the-moment split that just got out of hand?
The truth is, it may be possible to get back with your ex, but you now have to consider: is that really the best thing? This may actually be a disguised opportunity - bear with me.
Do you really even want your ex back? Time for some hard thinking
Is getting back with your ex really the best course of action for both of you? Or are you just seeing your ex through rose-tinted spectacles because we always appreciate what we no longer have? Perhaps they were violent or stole or cheated or you behaved in any of these ways (forgive me for suggesting these things, but I don't know you personally). Regardless of how you feel at the moment, now is an opportunity for you to take stock and do some serious thinking, rather than doing a Dustin Hoffman and 'romantically' barging in to demand your ex-partner be with you now and for always.
Think as objectively as possible: does your partner really contribute to the quality of your life? And an even harder question to ask yourself: do you make their life better? Do you overvalue your ex-partner because you fear never meeting anyone else? If you answered yes to these questions, then ultimately you may - this might not be easy to hear - be better off without your ex. One woman was convinced she wanted to get her ex-boyfriend back, but as the emotional fallout settled, she found life to be better...without him. Just a thought.
But if you really think (not just feel) that it can work, then follow these tips to get your ex-partner back.
1) Don't beg...please!
If it's genuinely a relationship with potential, you need to do and also avoid doing certain things to get your ex back. One general pointer is that you should keep your dignity. Begging or otherwise behaving too desperately may make your ex feel sorry for you, but will also make you infinitely less attractive. And even if they do go for the 'lame dog', imagine how that would cause resentment later on. They might well feel you got back together for the wrong reasons.
You might not care about that right now, but you would do later on, because how couples reunite can have ramifications for how the relationship is after the reconciliation. Make it clear to your ex you think the relationship can still work, but communicate this calmly and as an adult.
2) Leave game playing at the playground
Trying to get your ex back by playing games is the wrong way to go. The clue is in the name: game playing is for children. Trying to make your ex jealous by pretending to be dating someone else may scupper things later on if you ever do seriously get back together with your ex. Behave at all times as the adult you are.
3) Don't hold your ex-partner to ransom
You can live without your ex, even if it doesn't feel that way now. That's a fact! Screaming, crying, or threatening to end it all if your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend won't see you or get back with you will just make them feel manipulated and pressured. Emotional blackmail will also likely reinforce the very reasons why they felt they had to finish with you.
Do you really want to be back with someone who feels forced into it because they worried you might 'do something' if they didn't agree to reconcile with you?
4) Don't tell your ex you've changed; show them
If your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend told you what they felt was lacking in you, are you considering what they said? If they said, for example, that you never listen to them, then are you still not listening? Rather than telling them you are no longer insecure, show them by not contacting them every five minutes. If they told you that you don't talk to them with respect, then (if they'll still see you) talk respectfully. Or write a letter promising you'll change but also telling them how you intend to change. Vague promises never seem very promising, especially if your ex has heard it all before.
5) Say sorry to your ex if need be
One guy I worked with told me how his ex-girlfriend had finished with him and how much he wanted her back. "She always told me how I had to be right all the time. How I could never admit I was wrong or apologize!" I suggested he apologize to her in writing and on the phone.
He tried this and - hey, presto - it worked for him. Not only did he get his ex back, but they are still together years later. He has learned how to get off his high horse sometimes and say sorry.
People feel respected when they are apologized to and research has shown that being able to apologize makes us much more likely to keep relationships (1).
6) Try a little romance with your ex
Another client of mine told me how she wooed her ex-boyfriend back. She sent him genuine love letters from her heart, and gifts she knew he'd like. Yes, I know the 'use' of romance could be construed as manipulative, but it may work if done with real feeling.
One guy I spoke to tried to get his ex-girlfriend back by talking to her about all the wonderful times they'd had together. After a breakup, it's all too easy to just rant and rave and focus on what went wrong (and how unfairly you feel you've been treated). This just reinforces in your ex's mind why the breakup had to happen. Re-evoking the good times might well do the opposite.
7) Get your ex back by letting go of the past
If your ex-partner was the one who walked away from the relationship, it may have been for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they met someone else, maybe they felt like they tried so hard to make it work with no return, or maybe they quit easily. Perhaps they haven't yet learned that no relationship is perfect all of the time.
If you still see or communicate in any way with your ex-partner, only talk about the past insofar as it's really necessary. Don't blame them for stuff that's been and gone, because people feel (quite rightly) that there is nothing they can do about that. Talk about how you would still love a future with your ex; about how you don't want them to be your ex, but your current partner. Unless they feel they have to address issues from the past, don't even talk about what's gone on, but rather how things can be for the both of you.
But remember: if they really don't meet you halfway, then it's time to move on; because you will recover and come back stronger.