Go back to an ex

Should I get back to my ex?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - April 16, 2012

It can be tempting to go back to an old relationship especially if you break up and neither of you find a new partner, but can it ever work and is it a good idea?

After a break-up it can be tempting to give your ex another chance, especially if neither of you has moved on. But can it ever work and is going back to an ex ever a good idea? We investigate 

Relationships end for all sorts of different reasons and it’s never a pleasant experience. Sometimes what looks like an ending isn’t – it’s a break that allows both parties to retreat, take stock and maybe come back together and give it another go. Couples who have got back together after a break often say that their relationship is stronger as a result, but there are many others who kick themselves for having made the same mistake twice. Each situation is unique and at the end of the day only you can decide if you want to give it another shot with someone. Even so, here are some things to bear in mind if you are considering getting back with an ex.

What are your reasons for wanting them back?

Just as there are wrong reasons to be in a relationship there are also wrong reasons to get back with someone.  Here are the most common:

Mutual loneliness

You get back together, not because you really want to be together, but because there’s no-one else around that either of you are interested in. These situations often arise when you carry on hanging out in the same social group as your ex and you kind of drift back together.  This is a temporary solution to your loneliness and often ends up with sex but no relationship. Sooner or later one or both of you will get hurt.


As harsh as it seems, people sometimes get back with their ex not because they want to be with them but because they can’t bear the idea of them being with anyone else. This usually has nothing to do with love and everything to do with control and manipulation and it’s unlikely the relationship will last.

Forbidden fruit

Often people find their ex irresistibly attractive when they get together with someone else and become unattainable. These relationships often start as affairs, with one or both parties with other people, and it’s the thrill of the forbidden that is so seductive and enticing. The trouble is that people often don’t want their prize once they’ve got it and after the initial red hot passion has died down there is nothing of substance left.

The most common situations where people get back together with an ex and it builds into a relationship that may be better or stronger than it was before are:

Enforced separation

Lots of couples split due to circumstances beyond their control like their work taking them to a different country, or family circumstances that make it impossible for them be together. Whatever the reason, their break-up was either not their decision or what they decided to do because it was impossible to carry on being together under the circumstances. If the external circumstances change and they find themselves able to be together again, the relationship and commitment between them is often much stronger as the result of the separation.


Sometimes it isn’t until a relationship has broken up that people realise that they need to change their behaviour or attitudes. It can be a valuable wake up call to realise that unless you change you may never see your partner again. If you really believe your ex has learnt their lesson and changed whatever it was that caused the break in the first place then it may be worth giving them a second chance.

Unfinished business

There are some situations where the relationship ended prematurely and both parties feel that it wasn’t complete. They get back together rather than risk living with the regret that they didn’t give it another shot. It may be an important final chapter or the beginning of a new one, either way it was what they had to do to have closure.

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Before you get back with an ex it is really important to ask yourself whether you can really forgive whatever it was that ended the relationship in the first place? There is no point getting back together if every time you have a row you bring up the old hurt because you will never be able to develop true intimacy with them again. Forgiving someone isn’t the same as condoning what they did, it’s about agreeing to let it go and make a new and different start together. Don’t try to go back to how things were before but try to be content to look forward and build something different.

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