What Should I Do If My Ex Wants Me Back?

Updated April 08, 2021

Is it ever a good idea to get back together with your ex? Different people will have different answers to that question, partially because we all have unique perspectives and partly because our experiences with our exes are different. Some people have an “I’m never getting back together with an ex’” rule, whereas some people break up, get back together, and proceed to have a strong relationship. If you’re in a situation where your ex wants you back, you might be thinking, “my ex wants me back. What should I do?” Depending on your relationship's circumstances, what you’ll want to do or say in response to “my ex wants me back” will differ.

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Here are some things to think about, as well as some ways to answer the question, “what should I do if my ex wants me back?”

They Want You, But Do You Want Them?

Your ex wants to get back together with you, but do you want to get back together with them? Before you consider getting back together with your ex, it is vital to answer this question honestly. Never get back together with someone because you’re lonely or for the simple fact that it’s familiar, if nothing else, is causing you to want to get back into the relationship. That will only hurt both of you more. If you get back together with someone, you must be doing so because both of you want to and know that you’re both able and determined to have a healthy relationship.

When you ask yourself, “what should I do if my ex wants me back?” think about the previous course that your relationship took. It could be that your relationship was short and simple last time and that the reason you’re getting back together is that before, you weren’t quite ready, but some time has passed, and you feel that it’s time to give it another shot. Alternatively, there may be old wounds left over from your last go with this person. If the latter is true, you want to make sure that those wounds are healed to the point that they won’t interfere with the connection before moving forward.

If there are children involved, you may feel guilty for not wanting your ex back, especially if they’re trying to get you back. However, research shows that staying in a partnership for the kids when you don’t want to be in it actually has more negative outcomes than staying apart. Remember that you decide to take your ex back or not. An objective third party such as a counselor may be able to help you work through any emotions related to this and make sure that external influences are not making your decision for you.

What Does A Healthy Relationship Look Like?

A healthy relationship includes communication, affection, reciprocal respect, and the ability to solve problems collectively. It’s essential to raise each other in a relationship and support the other person's dreams. In a healthy relationship, there will be equal give-and-take. Even in situations where one partner is a caregiver of sorts, you will embrace each other and feel affection from the other person. In a healthy relationship, you will feel like your own person and retain your identity. You embrace one another rather than dependent on each other for your personality or decision-making outside of the partnership. In a healthy relationship, neither partner will be controlling, and there will be trust and shared goals as a unit.

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Take It Slow

Depending on how long you were apart, you might be completely getting to know this person again. Even if you were together for ten years and apart for two, a lot could’ve happened in those two years. You want to get to know your ex as the person they are now. When you realize, “my ex wants me back,” think of all of the ways you’ve changed and make sure that your ex gets to know you like your current self in addition to getting to know them. Spend time together as friends firsthand. Be cognizant of the signs you’d look to in any partnership to see if it’s going well. Many people talk about “the grocery store test” or “the stuck at the airport test” when it comes to relationships. Do you have fun doing mundane things like going to the grocery store with this person? Are they someone you’d be able to enjoy being stuck at the airport with? A good relationship is dependent on communication, understanding, and the ability to have fun with each other.

How To Turn An Ex Down

If you realize, “My ex wants me back, but I don’t feel the same way,” you might be wondering how to turn your ex down. First, know that you’re not obligated to reply. If you decide to respond, you can let them down lightly in any way that feels comfortable. Statistics on men and women released by the United States Census Bureau show that marrying more than once has become more common over the years. This data on men and women in the United States suggests that if you’ve remarried or started dating a new person after your ex, you’re definitely not alone. If you’re dating someone else, tell them that; it’s up to them to respect it, and if they don’t, you don’t have to continue the conversation.

Similarly, if you’re not looking to date at the moment, you can say, “I’m not looking to date right now.” Again, they must respect what you have to say. You may have heard the phrase, “no is a complete sentence,” and it’s a very relevant statement when it comes to the question, “my ex wants me back, but I don’t want them back; what do I do?” If someone can’t respect your boundaries when you tell them that you’re not interested, it’s only further evidence that you shouldn’t be with this person.

Not Sure What To Do About Your Ex Wanting You Back?
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Is It Possible To Have A Healthy Relationship With An Ex?

It is possible to have a healthy relationship with an ex. If you’re on the same page and want to give the relationship another shot, you can use some strong relationship strategies. The Gottman Method is one popular approach used in couples counseling to maintain strong relationships. It’s a highly researched method, and it can shed some insight into the things that help relationships and what may harm them. The Gottman method states that four things often harm a partnership. These four things are called “the Four Horsemen” in the Gottman method. The four Horsemen are:

  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Defensiveness
  • Stonewalling

Conversely, the Gottman method has a theory called the “sound relationship house” that details the elements that can help you maintain a healthy partnership. On one side of the sound relationship house is trust, and on the other is commitment. These are the walls that keep the “house” of any relationship standing; they are vital for relationship health. Inside of those two walls are seven elements or levels that read:

  • Create shared meaning
  • Make life dreams come true
  • Manage conflict
  • The positive perspective
  • Turn toward instead of away
  • Share fondness and admiration
  • Build love maps

To learn more about the Gottman method, you can go to the Gottman Institute's official website. While this is only one way to strengthen your relationship, Learning about the Gottman method can give you some ideas of what to work on letting go of and what to focus on to improve the resiliency and affection in your relationship.

It’s okay if there are some ups and downs. No one is born a relationship expert, and even for the most qualified relationship experts, disagreements are bound to happen here and there. The important part is that you communicate and work through any issues that arise.

How To Make Sure That All Patterns Don’t Repeat

If your ex wants you back and you’re interested in giving it another shot, it’s important to make sure that old patterns don’t repeat, particularly if there was a specific pattern or issue that strained your relationship in the past. One of the best ways to make sure that old patterns don’t repeat in a rekindled relationship is to go to therapy. Think about it; perfectly happy couples go to premarital counseling and find value in it, so if you’re looking to get back together and are determined to make it work, therapy is a great way to help build a solid foundation. Studies show that couples counseling can increase satisfaction in relationships. The best part of couples counseling is that it’ll always be tailored to your unique relationship and circumstances.

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Online therapy

Online counseling is an excellent place to work through any relationship concerns you have. Whether you’re dealing with an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend that wants you back, or something else, seeing a licensed mental health professional can help. The counselors at ReGain are relationship experts that offer both individual counseling and couples counseling. Search the network of online counselors at ReGain today and find the best fit for you.

References:

Don’t Stay for the Sake of the Children, Research Shows

The Gottman Institute | A research-based approach to relationships

Short and long-term effectiveness of couple counseling: a study protocol


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