How to Know When It's a Mistake to Reconcile With Your Ex (2022)

Should you reconcile with your ex? These seven questions and two important points to consider will help you make the decision. Sometimes reconciliation (or not reconciling) seems obvious – but not always. If your ex refuses to get back together, for example, then your desire to reconcile is pointless. Reconciliation may also be a mistake if your ex is abusive, unfaithful, or in prison.

But what if your ex isn’t outwardly “bad” or unhealthy? Maybe you stopped loving him as more than a friend, or your relationship faltered and died. Maybe you and your ex drifted apart, separated, or even divorced. You think reconciliation might make a difference. You’re tempted to get back together but is it a good idea to reconcile with your ex?

I interviewed Michelle Wright, a Vancouver divorce mediator and therapist. She has personal experience with relationships, breakups, divorces and reconciliations.

“Deciding whether or not to reconcile and start overcan be complicated and fraught with mixed emotions,” said Michelle. “Matters of the heart are intensely personal. No one – no matter how well-meaning – can tell you whether you or not you should attempt to reconcile with your ex.Of course that won’t stop many of them from trying! It’s probably not a bad idea to listen to the advice of people who know you well andwhose opinion you trust. Any advice or observations from people who know both of you and were witness to your relationship may be helpful.”

Michelle added that taking at least a six month break from an emotionally difficult or painful breakup is a good idea. This gives you a chance to take a step back, breath, and clear your head. This will help you decide if reconciliation is a mistake or not.

One of my readers agrees, saying:

“Taking a break from my 14 year marriage is scary for me,” says Amara on How to Decide if You Should Reconcile With Your Husband. “I do not want to lose him. But I do not feel important enough in his life even now when we are separated. My husband waits days to respond to my texts. He calls me on fridays only….if I am lucky. We see each other bi-weekly. (Mind you, I pay the cell phone bill so I think that is why he sees me). He is a calm man who doesn’t express his feelings. I love my husband deeply and want to reconcile. But I feel like time is up for us in his eyes. That is why a relationship break is important. To give my husband space to think and decide his best path.”

How to Know When It's a Mistake to Reconcile With Your Ex (1)

Are you and your ex on a temporary or trial separation? Read 5 Ways to Get Healthy When You’re on a Relationship Break.

7 Questions to Ask Before You Reconcile With Your Ex

Before deciding if you should start over, ask yourself some difficult questions. Be as honest with yourself as you can.Take as much time as you need to carefully think things through.

  1. Which one of you ended the relationship and why? Have you been able to talk openly and honestly about what went wrong? If not, reconciliation is a mistake.
  2. How have each of you changed since the relationship ended? Do you think these changes have moved you closer together or further apart? Will these changes positively or negatively affect the reconciliation?
  3. How are your wants and needs different now than they were when you were initially attracted to each other? Is your current attraction to each other based on what you both wanted/needed when you first met, or are you attracted to the people that you’ve both grown to be? Would you be as willing to consider a relationship with your ex if you were meeting him or her for the first time?
  4. Are you both aware of what’s been going on in the other’s life while you were apart? Are there significant circumstances, unresolved relationships, majorillnesses, spiritual issues, or any other important factors that might affect your relationship if you decide to reconcile?
  5. Have each of you had the opportunity to explore relationships with other people? How were those relationships with other people similar to or different from the relationship you shared? What lessons might you learn from that information?Have any romantic relationships been appropriately ended before you reconcile?
  6. Do you believe that each of you did all that you could do to save the relationship when you were in it? If not, why not? If so, what is different now? What new skills or resources do you have available to you, that you each are willing to use, to make the relationship work that you didn’t utilize before?
  7. What has changed in your relationship? If nothing has changed then it’s likely a mistake to reconcile.

If you are clear about the reasons you broke up and reasonably confident that those circumstances or issues have been resolved, perhaps it is a good idea to reconcile with your ex. It’s important to be hopeful, but realistic. And don’t forget that there may be unfinished business to take care of during the reconciliation process.

“When your ex husband or boyfriend wants you back, consider the unfinished business,” said Michelle. “Are you still deeply in love with each other even though you’ve been apart for a while? If you’ve both realized that you still have deep feelings for each other and those feelings have impacted your ability to engage in meaningful relationships with other people, perhaps reconciliation won’t be a mistake and is worth considering.”

If your ex husband or boyfriend makes promises he doesn’t keep, read When He Says He’ll Change – But Never Does.

2 things to consider before reconciling

There are manyreasons that couples separate and then reconcile, such as fear of being alone, financial pressures, guilt or embarrassment, pity, pressure from family and friends, familiarity, and the belief that “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” These factors don’t mean reconciliation is necessarily a mistake, but it is important to be aware all the moving parts.

Before you decide to reconcile, consider these two factors. Michelle says her experience as a divorce mediator and as a divorced woman have shown her how important these issues are.

1. Be clear about what you miss about your relationship with your ex

“Sometimes women miss the idea of a relationship or their ex husbands,” says Michelle. “I got back together with my ex and later realized I didn’t miss him. I missed who I thought he was. I missed the idea of being married.”

What is the REAL reason you’re thinking about getting back together? Once you’re satisfied with your answer to that question, ask what has changed since you broke up that is likely to increase your chances of success the next time around? If reconciliation is still a possibility, ask your ex the same questions and insist on emotionally honest answers.At this point you’ll probably have a pretty good idea of what the right decision is for you.

2. Consider how your kids will be affected

Many unhappy couples stay together “for the sake of the children.” Others separate and then reconcile for the same reason. Undoubtedly there are circumstances in which this is indeed the best decision for the children, but the world is full of dysfunctional adults who were raised by parents who either stayed in or returned to dysfunctional relationships. Basing your decision to reconcile solely on what’s best for the kids may be a mistake. Many grown kids of couples who stayed together for the wrong reasons know firsthand that growing up in a dysfunctional household had a negatively effect on their ability to have healthy relationships.

“Whether we like it or not, our children learn about life and love by watching the way us parents interact with them and each other,” says Michelle. “If there are children involved, think carefully about the lessons you are teaching your children by your actions, whether you decide to stay apart or get back together.”

In Marriage on the Mend: Healing Your Relationship After Crisis, Separation, or Divorce, Clint and Penny Bragg share their story of marriage, separation, divorce, reconciliation, and remarriage after living apart for 11 years.

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This couple knows firsthand about the difficult work of restoration and rebuilding a marriage with an ex after separation and reconciliation. The Braggs know that couples who reconcile after separation or divorce face a unique set of challenges, including unresolved arguments, poor communication habits, unforgiveness, and betrayed trust.

Do both you and your ex want to reconcile? Are you struggling with the decision to get back together because you’re worried reconciliation is a mistake? Read What You Need to Know About Reconciling After a Separation.


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