(The Root) —
"My boyfriend and I recently broke up. He reaches out every couple of days. I miss him and I want to be with him, but I am not sure how he feels. How do I bring up to him the possibility of us getting back together?" —M.G.
Your letter reminds me of one of my favorite Jill Scott songs, "Cross My Mind." Scott details all the great memories of the times she had with her ex and how much she misses him — the way he smelled, her attraction to him, the loving nights they shared.
But upon deeper reflection, she realizes that she's having a moment of vulnerability and that missing him isn't "the sign" that means she should give the relationship a second chance. She concludes, "You were never good for me, and I was never good for you."
Before you reach out to your ex to ask him to give you one more chance, I'll caution you to have a real heart-to-heart with yourself to figure out if it's the old relationship you want back or if you're just feeling the agony of getting over the dude you used to love.
Surely I don't need to tell you that a breakup can be emotionally taxing. There's the severed bond and the lonely nights, of course, but for me it was always the little things, like wanting to share a "You'll never guess what happened" moment or knowing that someone was missing me occasionally when I wasn't there.
Sometimes, when we're newly out of a relationship, feeling lonely and not adjusting quite so quickly as we had hoped to dating again, we can romanticize what was, remembering only the best aspects of the relationship, instead of evaluating it more objectively.
If, on second thought, you realize that your mind is playing tricks on you, it's probably best if you get a little more distance from your ex. As comforting as it may be to know that he still cares about and misses you, as evidenced by the calls (but notably, no firm sign that he wants to get back together), it's going to be a much longer road to emotional recovery if you're still interacting with him on a regular basis. Explain to him that speaking to him is tough for you at the moment and you need time to gather your thoughts.
Maybe, after some analysis, you'll decide that you really do want to work things out. In that case, skip trying to decipher what it means that your ex calls every few days and whether he wants the same thing you do, and just ask him what you want to know. A simple, "I'd like to try again to make our relationship work. What do you think about that?" will get your intentions across to him clearly. He will let you know then or within a few days what's on his mind.
Even if he doesn't give the answer you want to hear, you will have clarity and can begin the process of moving on without wondering, "What if?" If he, too, is interested in reuniting, the two of you can either move toward getting back together or just move on.
Note the wording I used there: "move toward." After a breakup, even when both partners want to be together, I don't suggest that they just jump right back into a commitment. You broke up for a reason. Maybe it was a frivolous fight and one of you said something you didn't mean in the heat of an argument. Perhaps it was an ongoing problem, and one of you finally had the last straw.
Whatever the cause or causes, you need to have a serious conversation, or a series of them, about how to address the issues in the relationship. You also need to discover together and then implement methods of addressing those issues in a way that works better for both of you. Just getting back together doesn't do that.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.