Getting Your Ex Back


You know things weren't perfect in the relationship but your ex has hijacked your thoughts, emotions and sleep. You stalk her on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. You check your email 20 times a day hoping to see her name. The phone rings; your heart pounds; you anticipate her voice on the other end. Embarrassed? Don't worry. You're not the only one who wants an ex back.

The Stats

The cycle of breaking up and getting back together verges on epidemic status. Sixty-two percent of young adults have gone back to an ex at least once, as shown in a recent survey by Dr. Dailey and her colleagues at the University of Texas. These on-again/off-again relationships (on-off relationships for short) are everywhere. Unfortunately, the success stats aren't great for on-off relationships. The survey mentioned above indicates that three-quarters of on-off couples go through the breakup and renewal cycle more than once. As the number of cycles increases, partners are more likely to report negative behaviors in the relationship such as lack of validation from their partners, ineffective arguments, aggression, and uncertainty regarding the future of the relationship. Overall, on-off partners report more problems and fewer positives than partners in noncyclical relationships.

The Good News

There is good news though. Some couples take a breakup as a wakeup call. There are many couples that have broke up, hashed out their issues, got back together and stayed happy and married. More impressively, these couples remain married. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. If you want to be one of the lucky ones to stop the cycle and make a relationship work after a breakup, you are going to need to be smart. But before going any further, ensure your ex doesn't have a restraining order against you and is willing to listen to your impressive new insights on relationships.

Addressing the Issues

Common sense says if you and your ex can agree on the problems leading to the breakup and work toward eradicating those problems, you have a fighting chance of successfully renewing your relationship. In a follow-up study to the survey mentioned earlier, Dr. Dailey and her colleagues identified frequent issues leading couples to break up and the remedies that brought about renewal. Some of these issues are summarized below. Use this truncated list not only as inspiration but also as a springboard to help you successfully pinpoint and address the weak points in the relationship you want to resurrect.

Issue 1: Fighting

A predominant reason for breakups is fighting. For some couples, a breakup results from an accumulation of small fights. For other couples, a huge blowout triggers the separation. A reason partners in this category cite for getting back together is the ability to resolve the underlying issues that fuel the fighting (e.g., infidelity, trust, money). Other partners simply start to get along better resulting in an organic road to renewal, requiring little work.

Issue 2: Communication

Some breakups occur because of poor communication. We've all had to deal with someone who talked too much, too little, or too superficially. You may even be one of these talk-deficient people in need of Communication 101. When communication problems lead to a breakup, renewals occur with a change in the communication pattern. For some couples, the communication change comes in the form of one partner or both partners opening up about relationship issues, day-to-day life, fears, desires, or the past.

Issue 3: Time Spent Together

The reason some couples combust is because of unequal expectations in how much time needs to be spent together. Now pay attention. For couples in this category, the typical reason for renewing a relationship is not because the time-together expectations decrease. Rather, renewal occurs if partners spend more time together.

Issue 4: Insecurity

Another major reason couples split is due to relationship insecurity. Insecurity can stem from diverging views on the direction of the relationship. For example, if you're looking to get married and she wants to date multiple people, then you might find yourself a wee bit insecure. Alternatively, insecurity may arise from ambivalence towards the relationship. A take-it-or-leave-it attitude regarding the relationship can play havoc with one's sense of well-being. Almost needless to say, expressing commitment to each other often leads to renewals when security is at issue. Even the act of fighting to stay together shows commitment and increases security.

Issue 5: Rut

Breakups can also occur because a relationship becomes boring. If this point resonates, ensure you and your partner don't reunite just because making up constitutes something exciting. Go back because you find ways to increase excitement through new activities, better communication or sex. If someone's attractiveness plummets because of the rut, have no fear. Attractiveness can be reclaimed (and not through plastic surgery). Apologizing, better perspective taking, and plain effort to become a better person can increase one's attractiveness and invigorate the flatlining relationship.



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