Former Partners

I recently revisited an old relationship by spending a few days with an ex-boyfriend. The familiarity was very comforting. However, I was very quickly reminded why we broke up. Remember, I have spent nearly three years working on heavy-duty relationship stuff and created a ninety-day program that helps people navigate difficult breakups.

Dealing with former partners is a reality of romance. That reality can be full of cautionary tales. Have you had a visit from a former partner that reminded you why the relationship ended? I am so thankful for my work because it helps me think much more clearly and figure out what I actually want. That weekend with my ex-boyfriend made it clear that relationship is not even close to what I want. That chapter is closed.

Fanning Old Flames

Revisiting a past relationship can be very tempting. How many times have you thought about reaching out to a former partner? Usually, when we do see them, we are reminded why the relationship did not work.

For some, that old spark still exists, but it usually dies out more quickly the second time around. The reasons you broke up will stand out loud and clear (if you are paying attention). Loneliness is the number one reason why people revisit and settle for past relationships. During the pandemic, many people moved in together to avoid being alone, but when the health emergency ended, many of those relationships ended too.

One of the upsides of getting back together with a former partner is you know what you are getting into. There are advantages to really knowing someone. Maybe the first time around, you were not ready to commit. I will use “Bennifer” as an example. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez got engaged, broke up, married other people, then got back together. Their fans watched the couple’s every move, wondering whether it is possible to reconnect with a former partner. We can speculate about why they broke up years ago, but we will never know. They look very happy now, so their relationship could be a success story of reuniting.

Do the Work

In my case, picking up where I left off with my ex-boyfriend was not good. My emotions were still raw, and we had a lot of unresolved issues. Let’s just say we did not end well. Picking up where you left off is possible only if both parties have done the work. Not to brag, but I did a lot of work and could never go back. I could see myself reconnecting with my ex-husband after twenty years. I say that because I did zero work on that marriage and left it when I was in a horrible state. I was not out of love; I was a miserably unhappy human. I had no idea I was spiraling emotionally until I started working hard on past relationships.

If you have come this far with me, you know I talk openly about the end of my marriage bringing me to my knees. Somewhere deep down, I knew there was something I needed to work on. I just did not know, until this decade, what it was. It took a lot of work and self-forgiveness to move on and let go.

Second Chances

Some people reconnect with a former partner and never let go because now they know they will never take that person for granted again and treat their partner how they wish they had in the first place. Those realizations are beautiful. I believe in second chances. We are not given a handbook on how to have a beautiful relationship. We learn by example, and even with the best examples, there is still a chance of failure. Second chances and forgiveness are beautiful.

During my visit with my ex-boyfriend, I saw clearly that we do not have a lot in common, and our values are very different. That he had several “relationships” in just three years was quite a turn off for me. All the work I have done helped me see that as a red flag.

Don’t Settle

I work with many single women, guiding them through the dating process and helping them figure out what they want in a relationship so they do not settle. As someone who coaches, I practice what I preach. The visit with my ex-boyfriend was not a waste of time. Nothing romantic happened, and there was no fantasizing about what could happen. Just some talk of the past, then forgiveness, then my famous saying, “Next.”

For me, the only joy of going back to my ex-boyfriend would be comfort and familiarity, nothing more. Before you contact a former partner, think long and hard about why you want to. Is it because you are feeling anxious? Is it ego related? Be ready to confront all the memories, not just the ones you are fantasizing about. Depending on the reasons the relationship ended, you might have to work through a lot of hurt feelings, and that might require guidance. If both parties are on the same page, it could work.

If you are longing for a lost love, take time to write about it. Remind yourself why the relationship ended and what was good and bad about it. Then take a look at your list of what you truly want in a relationship. A square peg will not fit in a round hole no matter how many times you try.

Remember, there will be a tomorrow, so do not settle!

Deborah Driggs

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