The heart wants what it wants. Those words sung by Selena Gomez in her hit song from 2014 are truer now than ever before. For weeks, rumors have spun that Selena and her on-again, off-again Canadian beau Justin Bieber were, in fact, on again. This past weekend, with a public kiss, the two confirmed for us that they are giving each other a second chance (or maybe fourth).
But what does it all mean? Numerous reports have said that her family strongly dislikes him. Some even claim he’s the reason Gomez went to rehab when her “self-esteem was shot.” After years of subliminally communicating deep pain and misunderstanding in their songs about one another, why has the pair reconnected yet again? And what does it mean for all of us who have that one ex—perhaps our first love—we’ve considered giving a second chance?
Understand That Young Love Is Different
Klapow tells Verily that Bieber and Gomez really aren’t an unusual story. “They’re no different than thousands of couples from every walk of life,” he says. “. . . teens who met, fell in love, and now over time find themselves back together.”
We all know that couple who dated in college, hit a few rough patches, but ultimately married. Maybe that couple is you. When you’re still a teenager, “the emotions are strong, and they set an indelible mark,” Klapow says. “Even when things go astray, the memories of a first serious love will linger.” Bieber and Gomez were 16 and 18 when they started dating. In that regard, Klapow suggests that “Jelena,” as Hollywood has affectionately named them, isn’t as surprising as many of us have thought watching this rekindling unfold. “This reconciliation is more a description of a teen romance that has extended into young adulthood than it is a highly toxic or abnormal relationship,” he says.
But can two people come back together and make it work, where once (or a few times) they failed?
Know That Getting Back Together Will Only Have a Shot if . . .
Gomez and Bieber have a legendary romantic history that began way back in 2010. Between Gomez dropping her emotional ballad The Heart Wants What It Wants with a 45-second tear-stricken monologue that was very personal and their catty little throw-down on social media, it’s been a wild ride. But after a few breakups and makeups, the two are fully back on and even going to church together. Fans are going nuts but also wondering: Do they really have a shot at happily ever after?
Maybe not all of us consider getting back with our first love, but most of us have been tempted to give at least one ex a second chance. Klapow says to ask yourself these three questions before getting back together:
01. How have I changed—not necessarily good or bad. What is different about me now versus then?
02. How has my partner changed?
03. How have our circumstances changed?
“When I say change, it should be emotionally and psychologically,” Klapow says. Maybe you feel less insecure or have a clearer vision of what you want for the future. Maybe your views of what you want in your lives (e.g., kids, religion, jobs) have changed and are lined up.
Be wary though. “If little to nothing has changed in each of these three areas, the chances that a relationship will work again are slim to none,” Klapow says. But let’s say you have each evolved, and you’re ready to try again. How can you grow together instead of apart?
Make Sure the Second or Third Time Around Looks More Like This
So you’re giving your guy another shot. Chances are your girlfriends are saying something to the effect of: “What’s going to be different this time?” It’s a valid question, and it’s important for anyone going down that road to think about how two people in a relationship can evolve without diverging. It’s also very important to judge whether your connection is more physical than it is long-term compatible. Sometimes we think we want to be back with someone because that electric spark is still there. In reality, if certain foundations don’t come along with that chemistry, you’ll be doomed to fail—again.
“Couples successfully grow together by encouraging each other to grow as individuals,” Klapow says. “If one of the partners remains stuck or tries to hold the other back, then the relationship will not grow over time. Paying attention and nurturing their interactions, their dreams, shared rituals, the events that the couple engages in as a part of the relationship together are all critical parts of the relationship growing in a good direction.”
If you’re going in for round two, make sure you’re intentional about what you both are bringing to the table this time. Communicate expectations, boundaries, and needs upfront, not after the rekindled fire starts to dim.
There’s no set answer for whether a second chance is the right move. Sometimes it works out. Hey, William and Kate broke up once, remember? Miley and Liam seem to be going strong once again. Other times, it’s just a prolonged period to further hurt each other as the same issues continue to fester. Here’s hoping Bieber and Gomez are seeing this new opportunity as a chance to be more intentional before they find that it is, indeed, far too late to say sorry.