What Does It Mean When People "Break Up To Make Up"?

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated April 20, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

Love is complicated. There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Not every relationship works smoothly from start to finish. And, some couples find themselves in a place where they split up even if it’s not what either one of them really wants. Or, after they split up thinking it’s what they want, they discover they were wrong. So, what does it really mean when people “break up to make up”?

Sometimes the complications of relationships seem too much to overcome. It could be that you lost trust in one another, lost interest in one another, or just fell into a routine, and the relationship didn’t really feel like what you wanted it to. These kinds of complications can cause couples to split up.

But, if they split up for the wrong reasons, some couples find themselves wanting to get back together. The time that they had apart was enough to let them know that they really do want what they had before. When this happens, they could be tempted to jump back into a relationship together. Some couples even go back and forth from breaking up to getting back together over and over again. But does this really make any sense in a relationship?

Does it make sense to break up to make up?

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There are a lot of reasons why it can make sense to break up to make up. Sometimes you think you know what you want and then discover that you were wrong. It may be that you and your partner had differences that seemed insurmountable when you were together, but the opportunity to be alone helped you see things more clearly. Or, when you had a chance to see what other options were out there, you might have quickly discovered that you had it better than you thought.

Sometimes that distance of splitting up can help create the space that both of you needed to realize what changes needed to be made in your relationship for it to succeed.

How to succeed when you give it a second chance

If you find yourself wanting to get back together with an ex, there are some things that you should know to help make your relationship more successful the second time around. The last thing that you want is to end up in the same pattern again.

Talk about the issues first.

Before you rush into getting back together, take time to discuss the issues you had the first time around. Don’t just talk on the surface level; take time to really dive deep into the problems.

If you don’t want to repeat them, this is an important step. What you thought the problems were may be different than what your ex thought they were. This is your time to talk it all out. You want to do it before you get back together, so you don’t have to carry those past problems into your new relationship.

Establish healthy boundaries

Boundaries are important in any relationship, including romantic relationships. When you set healthy boundaries, you establish the rules for how you allow people to treat you.

Think of the boundaries in a neighborhood. Fences are put up between neighbors’ yards to show where the boundary lines are. This allows each neighbor to know where their space is and where they’re not to cross over into their neighbor’s yard unless invited. When you set boundaries in your life, you’re showing your partner what they are allowed to do and what you will accept.

Imagine if you had a fence up and your neighbor continued to knock your fence down and come into your yard. You would feel violated that they didn’t respect your needs. That’s what it’s like when you create boundaries, and your partner doesn’t respect them. But, if you don’t set and communicate the boundaries to your partner, they have no way of knowing what they are. If they continue to violate your boundaries, it’s on you for not communicating with them!

Don’t rush into it

Getting back together is something that shouldn’t be a decision you rush into. You must think about the past relationship that you had. Carefully think about what you enjoyed in that relationship, as well as what wasn’t working. Without taking the time to consider what changes need to be made properly and if your partner has made the changes you’d like them to, there’s no point in getting back together. The relationship will continue to go the way it always has.

It can be tempting to jump back into the relationship at the same level that you left off, but that’s not what you want to do. You want to start the relationship off on new terms. You’re giving it a brand-new start. That means if you used to live together, you don’t want to jump right back into living together once again. That’s something that you will need to work up to to make sure that your relationship is really going to last and be different, so you don’t repeat the same pattern.

Let go of needing to know the details about the gap period.

If you were broken up for any significant period of time, there’s a good chance that your significant other may have dated other people. This can be a difficult thing to think about and approach as you work on rebuilding your relationship. It’s going to be important for both of you to realize that it’s not healthy to obsess about the details of that gap period.

You need to share some things, such as if you were with another person, but all the details don’t need to be disclosed. You must remember that your relationship ended during that time.

Make sure you want the same thing long-term.

Before you get back together, it’s also important that you figure out what both of you want for the future. Before getting back together, you want to know that you both have the same long-term hopes for your relationship. If you’re on different pages in this area, it will lead to additional problems as you move forward.

For example, if you want to get married and the other person does not, you need to carefully consider if it’s worth getting back into this relationship. If you continue to move forward, then you need to realize that you also agree not to get married in the future. Do not move forward in a relationship thinking that you will convince the other person to change their mind somewhere down the road. While there’s a possibility that it could happen, it’s not a guarantee and something that you should base your relationship on.

Be willing to admit if it’s not going to work

Taking your time and trying to talk through the two of you have together, it may become apparent that getting back together is not the best idea. While it does work for some couples, it doesn’t work for everyone. There may be very legitimate reasons why your relationship did not work out the first time around.

If you love the other person, this can be a difficult thing to admit. But it’s better in the long run for you to be able to admit it now than to start the relationship over again and go through the heartbreak of ending it once more.

Do not allow other people, including your ex, to guilt you into starting your relationship again. While people can change, it doesn’t mean that everyone will. And, if you can see the writing on the wall that you and your partner are going to continue to have the same issues that you’ve had in the past, it’s not worth the effort of getting back together.

Get the help of a counselor.

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If your relationship had obstacles before, then there are likely obstacles that the two of you will need to overcome to have a healthy relationship going forward. This isn’t always the easiest thing to do on your own. It can be helpful to go through couples counseling to identify and correct the areas that you’re getting stuck on.

Even though it’s referred to as couples counseling, you can still participate even if you’re not technically a couple at the time. ReGain makes counseling for couples easy through online services. You don’t have to be in the same place at the same time to get the benefit of online counseling. And, if you are serious about the idea of getting back together and making your relationship work, counseling can be a great investment for the success of your future together.

Just because your relationship didn’t succeed the first time doesn’t mean that it will fail again. With the right work and attention, a “break up to make up” can be just the thing your relationship needed to turn around.

Counselor Reviews

“He’s amazing - he’s gotten me through some tough times and reminds me I’m not made of super human strength - that I’m human with normal emotions and it is in fact okay to cry. He has been an amazing support through a horrible breakup.”

“Nadja was very supportive and listened to my concerns in a non-judgmental way while offering helpful advice to get me through a very rough time in my relationship. Ultimately she helped me see that that the relationship hadn't been working for me, and she helped give me confidence to break out of the cycle and believe in myself in order to leave the situation. I would recommend her as a counselor to anyone going through personal or relationship issues!”

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