Will you really be happy the second time around?

Your ex doesn’t have to be begging you to take him back to get you thinking that breaking up was maybe a mistake. The thought of boozing it up at the club on the weekend with the last of your single friends is exhausting. You’re a little lonely—plus a lot disappointed by the spattering of bad dates you have been on recently. The thought of left-swiping on Tinder or answering another pointless question on eHarmony makes you cringe.

Why didn’t it work out with him again? Because he sure is looking pretty perfect right about now!

During moments when the future looks daunting, it’s normal to crave comfort and seek connection with someone familiar. Suddenly all the issues and fights from the past fade away into this new found appreciation for your former love. But your change of heart may not be the answer to your prayers. If you’re pondering getting back with the ex, ask yourself these three all-important questions.

01. What has changed?

The red flags that were there the last time didn't just disappear because you miss him. Unless new information has come to surface and a significant change has been made, you should stick with your decision. For example, if you broke up because you were both destructive in your communication with one another, unless one or both of you have made some serious changes in communication styles, that same issue will cause issues a second time. Those insecurities, those unresolved trust issues, those clashes in values? Those not so minor details are the same problems that are going to make you unhappy as soon as the initial surge of chemical reactions settle down and you’re back in reality mode. Unless some serious self-work has been done to identify, heal and move forward from those previous issues, it is only a matter of time until those issues are triggered again.

02. Are you really a good fit or are you a victim to sunk-cost fallacy?

One of the most difficult things about ending a romance, particularly a longterm one, is coming to grips with all the time and emotional energy you invested in a relationship that ultimately failed. If you are honest with yourself, it’s possible that your desire to rekindle romance with your ex is rooted in something known as sunk cost fallacy, or the desire to hold on to an investment only because you don’t want all that time, energy, and money invested to be wasted. The very reason why someone keeps investing in a bad stock is the same psychology that explains why we keep investing in a bad relationship.

If this resonates, try to forget about the investment and costs incurred to date. The fact that you invested a lot of time in the past is irrelevant to the question of whether or not there is a sustainable future. Look at your compatibility, your life vision, your values and your communication styles. Are they aligned? Having a history with someone doesn’t magically result in an alignment of the fundamentals needed to create a healthy, lasting relationship.

03. Do you have as much compatibility as you do chemistry?

Compatibility and chemistry are both essential to a happy relationship, but too much emphasis on chemistry (the more fickle of the two), and not enough focus on compatibility, can cause a relationship to fall apart. Compatibility, shaped by our personalities and shared goals and values, is the glue that keeps the relationship together. Chemistry, on the other hand, comes and goes and is dependent upon the addictive chemicals your body releases to make you bond and attach. This dynamic explains why even if your rational brain can list a million reasons you shouldn’t reunite with your ex, your reptilian brain can convince you that you are meant to be together. Don’t let chemistry blind you. The key is finding a partner where you have both chemistry and compatibility, not one or the other.

Of course, it’s not impossible to have a more successful go at a relationship the second time around. People do grow and sometimes it takes losing someone to realize what you had. If you are contemplating going back to your ex, I hope that this is the case for you. Just be mindful of the traps we too often make, causing us to continue relationship patterns that don’t serve us.

Photo Credit: Nima Salimi