“Recently my ex emailed me (I've blocked him from calling or messaging me). He wants to try the relationship again. Previously we were together one-and-a-half years. I don’t know what to make of it. It threw me off. Is it ever OK to go back to an ex?” —A.S.
Certain exes tend to hold a special place in the hearts of singles (and some folks in relationships). For whatever went wrong in the relationship as it neared its demise, there were good times had and special memories made. Time, frustration and sometimes loneliness can make us nostalgic for better days and overlook the glaring issues that led to the relationship’s end.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to your question. Making the “right” decision depends on why this relationship ended. If there was an issue that you just couldn’t hash out then—communication, misplaced priorities or money woes—but, with clearer heads and hopefully some maturity, it can be addressed now, then reconsidering an ex could be worth a discussion. If you were treated poorly—any form of abuse, infidelity or you couldn’t trust him—then I’m not a fan of signing up for a second round, no matter how much your partner claims to have changed.
What’s equally important to think about while you contemplate this decision is what both of you are willing to do differently this time around so you don’t repeat the mistakes of your past. If you don’t, you will only break up again, likely for the same reasons. And that’s just more drama for everyone.
Before a former couple consider reuniting, they need to have a few candid discussions on the front end—that means before they are back together—about what went wrong and how the previous issues they had can be addressed. They should also begin to re-date each other almost as if they’ve met for the first time. Exes who return don’t immediately regain all-access and full benefits of a relationship.
That said, I’ve given you the general answer about going back to exes. But I’d be remiss not to point out that in your specific situation, getting back with your ex doesn’t sound like the best idea.
You haven’t said exactly why your relationship ended, but whatever happened during or after the breakup was enough for you to go to the trouble of blocking him from calling or texting you. That’s not a normal reaction to a breakup. You don’t just block someone for nothing. Usually when people tell me they’ve gone to that extent, it’s because the person 1) did them really wrong in the end, 2) was making harassing or threatening contact or 3) would not take “It’s over” for an answer. This is not the type of person you should consider going back to.
It’s also notable to me that you point out that he wants to work things out, but you don’t express the same desire. I get a lot of emails about exes, and most often there’s a line or two that says, “I miss him” or “I still love him” but “I don’t know what to do.” You haven’t done that. Your letter is about what he wants and then the length of time you were together, and frankly, that’s just not enough reason to go back to someone.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of the upcoming book Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.