Prince William and Kate Middleton, Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez—these celebrity pairs have called it quits, rekindled the flame, and kept the fire going since. There’s an unmistakable comfort that comes with getting back together with an ex, but running back into those familiar arms isn’t always a good idea. How the heck are you supposed to tell? Well, that hinges on more than a few factors:
How long it’s been since the breakup.
That ridiculous three-month rule might not be a hard and fast one, but it (takes deep pre-cliché breath) exists for a reason: If you get back together too soon after a breakup, you might just be letting your emotions take you over. But you’re not alone—44 percent of people ages 17 to 24 have gotten back with an ex, reports a 2015 study by Bowling Green State University and the University of Wisconsin. In the same way our brain takes about 20 minutes before signaling to our bodies that we’re full, our emotions need time to settle and marinate before we can objectively comprehend them. Don’t rush it; if she’s meant for you, she’s meant for you.
The way they treated you.
This is pretty obvious, but we’ll cover all the bases anyway—hostile or violent breakups are a pretty obvious sign that a reunion will bear no good fruit down the line. If during the relationship, one or both parties were physically abusive or committed a literal crime against the other, we don’t know why anyone would consider getting back together. The thing with physical abuse, though, is victims have a tendency to go back to their abusers: “Women feel so much shame and embarrassment over the fact that they love someone who is abusive to them,” says Claudia Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) in an interview with Cosmopolitan. “They still see a glimpse of the person they fell in love with. It's very complex and it's very hard.” If you’ve successfully broken free from such a relationship, it would be wise to do some major reconsideration before returning to it. Don’t be afraid to gather support from friends and family.
The involvement of a third party.
Many, many couples have managed to repair relationships that have been destroyed by cheating—but it’s crucial to consider the kind (was it purely sex or was the cheater in love?), longevity, and frequency of the cheating to determine whether trying again would be a viable solution. Most importantly, take special focus on your partner’s level of remorse. “When the cheating [party] doesn't understand how much devastation he has caused or fails to fully comprehend the gravity of what he has done then reconciliation is impossible. That lack of internalization will make it hard to follow through on the work he needs to do to fix the breach of trust,” says Suzy Brown, author of Midlife Divorce Recovery, in an interview with Redbook. Did she ‘fess up ASAP? Is she making significant amends? Does she understand that you’re going to need time to rebuild trust? If so, maybe something could be worked out.
Your current circumstances.
Maybe you broke up because they didn’t have their shit together professionally. Maybe you were in financial turmoil, and she didn’t want to get sucked into that black hole by association. Or you were in different cities, and staying together would have ended awfully. Have circumstances significantly changed since then for both of you? Would it be easier to maintain a normal relationship this time around? Logistics are boring as hell, we know, but they make all the difference in a romantic relationship.
The harmony of your priorities.
Choosing to live under one roof. Thinking about marriage. Having a kid. These are big leaps that two people might not feel ready for at the same time—and the disparity can lead to splitsville. Say your partner comes back and finally says she’s ready. With time comes changes in one’s state of mind, and maybe your priorities in life finally clicked together. Perhaps it might be a good idea to discuss trying again.