Was It a Mistake to Break Up? These Questions Will Help You Decide

Don't let your mind run in circles around this issue.
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Don't let your mind run in circles around this issue.
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Art Credit: Evgenia Kohan

Breakups are the pits. All of us here on team Verily have been through it—we know it isn't fun. You know what also isn't fun? That two-month mark "oh crap" feeling when you start to think: Did I make a horrible mistake?

The kick-off is different for everyone. Sometimes it comes in the form of a phone call from our ex desperately pleading to get back together, sometimes it's you sending an email just to "update" your ex on your life, and still other times it's coming across that Facebook photo where he's smiling with another girl at a party and you think, "Oh my gosh, has he moved on?!"

No matter how it comes about, just telling yourself "not to think about it" often isn't enough to solve your nagging doubts (although it can definitely help!). Rather than running around in circles in your mind, ask yourself these questions to think productively about giving the relationship a second shot.

01. Are you in love with him or the idea of him?

It’s best to address this question first, as it is the most pressing feeling at the moment—longing for his presence. Sometimes that's a genuine desire for a particular person; sometimes it's just plain old loneliness. And that's OK! Human beings really aren't meant to be completely alone—even monks live in community!—so don't take it as a sign that you were meant to be together. But do recognize that your feelings may not be coming from a place of clarity. So often we can get wrapped up in the sudden loneliness of not having someone to text with before bed, or not having a date for that upcoming wedding, or even seeing friends' photos with their S.O., that we lose perspective.

If you don't think it's just loneliness, really consider who this person is. Too often the memory of a person we miss gets blown out of proportion in our minds, gussied up with rose-colored glasses. Are the things you love about this man reality, or just longing for who you desire him to be? What character traits do you love about him? What specifically do you miss?

02. What were the reasons that led you to break up in the first place?

Despite all of those reasons for missing him now, there was something that ended the relationship in the first place. What was it? If you broke up over substantial differences, like your religious beliefs or your attitudes toward money, is there something to make you think those issues have been resolved? And no, "we'll figure it out" is not an answer.

Remember that all of the longing and loneliness you feel now can make something as painful as cheating on you that one time seem like nothing in retrospect. Go further than identifying why it is you chose to break things off: Remind yourself of how those difficulties made you feel. Which brings us to the next question...

03. What would a relationship with him look like now?

If the reason was something like distance or a move, then think about what rekindling your relationship would look like now. If he's on one coast and you're on the other, is that something you're willing to make work? Even if you're only a few hours away, if you're in a new, demanding job, you may not get to see each other every weekend like you used to. Think about these factors when evaluating whether getting back together would truly make you happy.

And if a larger mitigating factor, such as distance, isn't an issue, then assess if you're really ready for a fresh relationship. Sure, you know the guy already. Getting back together can be a fresh start, but it also doesn't magically fix lingering issues you had from your previous go. If there was a significant wrong done previously, are you able to truly forgive them and not let it come back up in a fight down the road? When you hold on to anger, then you're not setting the stage for a peaceful, productive, healthy relationship moving forward. And the same is true for him.

04. What have you learned since the breakup?

Have you changed? Do you want different things than you did when you were with your ex? Feel free to ask for your girlfriends' input on this as well. If they've seen a change in your demeanor—for the better—since your breakup, that could be a telltale sign you made the right decision.

05. Do you see a future together?

It’s possible that when looking at your relationship in a static way, any problems leading up to the breakup (or even post-breakup) don’t seem very large. Maybe you worked through some of your previous issues. But did you consider the biggest one: whether or not there's a foundation for a real future together? The first time around, it can be easy to get swept up in the feeling of falling in love. If you're going to take the effort to restart a previously sputtered romance, building it on a shared vision makes it more likely that this time around you two will make it.

Once you have answered these questions honestly—without fear of whatever the answer to your ultimate questions might be—make the decision to move forward. Remember, whether you made a mistake or not, your ex is not the last good man on earth. You will meet someone else who makes your heart skip the way he did, but this time you will have learned valuable lessons about who you are and what you want from your next relationship.