Is getting back with an ex a good idea?
Breaking up with her boyfriend two years ago was one of the most painful moments in Joy Nduku’s life. They had been dating for five years and were childhood friends. But when her boyfriend cheated on her, this was the deal breaker.
“I found a romantic WhatsApp conversation on his phone with a woman who was his work mate. I forgave him. But when I caught them in a compromising situation at my boyfriend’s place, I couldn’t take it anymore,” she recalls.
But since then, her boyfriend has been reaching out to her, apologising for his mistakes and desiring that they go back to how things were. The persistent calls and texts are now making Joy consider giving her boyfriend a second chance.
“I find myself debating whether I did the right thing. Was it my fault that he cheated? Maybe I wasn’t giving him enough attention and that’s what tempted him to cheat. I still love him despite the fact that he cheated on me,” says Joy.
Motivation to reconcile
While some people find it easier to move on after a break-up, be it a relationship or marriage, others find it hard resisting the urge to give their exes another chance.
Ziporah Nyariki a psychologist says reconciling or going back to an ex depends on individual desires, motives, and impulses.
“While some people might opt for this, they should bear in mind that things might not be rosy. Fixing the problems that made the relationship break will require patience and perseverance from both parties,” she says.
She shares that there are many reasons people would reconcile with their former lovers. First, some people are driven or motivated to reconcile after facing some life-threatening situation such as illness or mental breakdown. “Also, the death of a loved such as a family member or a close friend can prompt an ex to desire to be close to his or her former lover in order to provide emotional and psychological support during their difficult period. Eventually, from this simple action, two separated birds might find themselves together again,” she observes.
Jealousy too motivates people to reconcile with their exes, especially if one moves on and startsl dating other people. “In short, they simply don’t want their ex to move on by being in another relationship,” explains Ziporah.
Also, loneliness, fear and guilt can make people go back to their former lovers. “Some are guilty to see their exes devastated without them and might give them a second chance because they believe that the ex has changed. Others just have fear of forming new relationships, as they are vulnerable. Boredom and loneliness are other factors that drive individuals to desire their old relationships. Others want safety and familiarity. It is common to fear starting a new relationship of which one does not know its eventuality,” she shares.
Narcissists may go back to an ex to get an opportunity to take revenge. “After going through the phase of heartbreak, some may desire to hit back in the name of reconciliation. Others want to prove a point— that the ex cannot move on without them,” she adds.
Betty Waime, a relationship coach and author of The 40 Days of Love believes that going back to your ex is purely an individual’s decision. She urges people to take an inventory and ask difficult questions before accepting their exes in their lives.
“Ask yourself, why do I still feel the need to relate with this person? Sometimes we lose ourselves in a relationship while trying to fill a void in our lives. Also, why did the break up happen in the first instance? What role did you play in it? Are there genuine unresolved issues? If the push is coming from the other party, why the sudden interest and what has changed about you or them,” says Betty.
Betty adds there are unique relationships where people have parted for months and even years, yet they came back together again and built healthy families.
Backsliders take note
“It happens when both parties are honest and vulnerable with each other on the role they played in the break-up and having spent apart, they have healed enough to connect, care, love and respect the other party with a depth that they couldn’t before.
It also happens when the break up was a result of one or both parties being immature and so didn’t handle or resolve disagreements well. You’d be surprised by some of the reasons people break up. Most times, especially in a marriage, these people aren’t emotionally mature enough to handle conflicts,” she explains.
Betty adds that when such a person is willing to work on themselves, especially their attitude, they may come to the realisation that their partner wasn’t so terrible after all. “Such a couple can come to a mutual agreement to start a fresh chapter in their relationship having learnt the lessons therein,” she says.
To everyone considering giving their ex a second chance, the experts advise you start with a “diagnostic” review of the past. Too often people create a balance sheet, weighing the good and bad in a relationship. They look at both sides, cross their fingers, and hope for the best. That’s the wrong approach according to experts. It doesn’t matter what’s on the good side of the balance sheet if the bad is really bad. Having good hygiene and being a good provider do not balance out physical abuse or destructive habits.
Ziporah shares how giving an ex a second chance is a difficult decision, especially where there are children involved. You don’t want to involve innocent parties to a push and pull environment since children want to be in a secure and stable place.
“After a break up, people should know what they want, their values and what they stand for. A break up should not destroy you, but should make you learn lessons on what not to do in the next relationship. Engage in activities that will suppress the urge of reconciliation if the relationship was toxic despite the fact that you might still have feelings for your ex,” she says in ending.