"Never look back." That's what they say, right? And most of us fully subscribe to this. Exes are exes for a reason, aren't they? And up until last year, I was the world's biggest advocate of leaving the past in the past. I've never stayed friends with any of my exes (because I think there is literally no point) and I'd certainly never considered getting back with one of them. Hell no.
Whenever friends who'd split up with their partners said they missed them, I became their relationship drill sergeant—constantly reminding them why it had all ended and why they were so much better off without.
And then I got back with my ex. I know, it actually still pains me to say it out loud. Not because he isn't the best dude on earth (because he totally is), but because I went back on my word. My point is, it's so easy to claim revisiting a former relationship is a bad idea. It's so easy to dish out advice to pals, but when it happens to you, you realize actually it's not always such a ridiculous idea.
I won't go into the reasons we broke up because I don't want to bore the living crap out of you. But our relationship just seemed to come to a natural end. After being friends for 10 years and then finally getting together, our lives had been running parallel for so long and then one day, we were just off in different directions. We were immature and had other shit going on that at the time, which was more important than our relationship.
For two years we didn't speak. Both of us saw other people, had casual sex and I even had a year-long relationship. And then we reconnected (cheers Tinder, you absolute lad) and it just seemed insanely right. Now, we live together, crack each other up every day and have a genuinely great time. In fact, I think the break was the best thing that ever happened to us. And so far, none of our old crap has come back to haunt us.
But that doesn't mean it won't. Sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight explains how getting back with an ex can work out, but says there are five key questions you need to ask if you're determined to rekindle a former relationship.
Is it a good idea to get back with an ex?
Never say never, sometimes a little space is all you need. However, always go back into a past relationship with open eyes. Ignoring previous problems in the hope that everything will be wonderful this time around is just asking for trouble. If you're about to re-ignite an old flame, it’s a good idea to take some time to evaluate what went wrong the first time around. For most cases, the phrase "flogging a dead horse’" comes to mind, however, there's always an exception to the rule and new research shows that more and more couples are making it work with an ex.
Can a broken relationship ever be fixed?
This depends on the couple. If two people are willing to work hard, forgive, and nurture their relationship, then it definitely can work. Both partners need to be completely on the same page and the lines of communication need to be well and truly open.
How can you make sure it lasts second time around?
So, before you embark on your journey to second chance city, there are a few key things to consider.
Talk about absolutely everything beforehand.
It’s a bad idea to get back with an ex if there’s any unfinished business hanging over your heads. If there was a particular reason why your relationship failed previously then it’s a good idea to establish some mutually agreed ground rules about certain behaviors beforehand.
Once you’ve forgiven, it’s time to forget.
You absolutely must leave the past in the past, learn from it by all means but don’t bring it up in the heat of an argument. Opening up old wounds for the sake of a quick win will only damage your chances of making things work. To try again you must be willing and able to move on if you’re to have any hope of having a future together.
Most second chance-relationships fail because couples assume they can just slip back into the way things were. It’s really important to nurture this relationship just as you would with any new romance.
If sex (or lack of) was one of the reasons why you split, how can you make sure you don't fall back into a rut the next time?
Keeping things fresh in the bedroom can be difficult; again, talking to one another is crucial when it comes to sex. This can be the most painful part of any reconciliation as no one wants to hear (or tell) truths when it comes to sex. Sadly, the only way you can have better sex is to be honest. Be more adventurous as a couple, even if for you that means something such as a new position or change of scenery or experimenting with sex toys for couples.
Is casual sex with an ex is ever a good idea to get you through a drought?
If both you and your ex are on the same page then there really shouldn’t be a reason why you can’t go back for some fun once in a while. In saying that, this is rarely the case. In my opinion it’s best to stay away: If you’re just after a bit of fun, then download Tinder and Bumble. Avoid any situations where people could potentially get their feelings hurt, no matter how little harm you think it can do at the time.
Whatever you decide to do: think it through, talk it out, and go in with your hearts and minds fully open.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.