I’ve been thinking a lot lately about couples that break up and get back together. My girl Taylor Swift’s new song is called “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and she seems really sure about ending it with this guy.
T. Swift is always timely with the relationship insights.
So Tay-Tay doesn’t want to get back together — ever ever never. So does getting back together just not work?
I had one relationship where all we did was break up and get back together for two years. During that time, we lived together and would just end it, still living in the same house by the way, and see other people — bringing them in and out of the yep, house we shared. Then, we’d have some big fight and end up sleeping together again. The last time we got back together, even we knew how ridiculous and awful we were being and so we hid our rekindling from our friends. They would have flipped out. Now, that’s an extenuating circumstance — we had to see each other in the house we shared all the time, so it was harder to actually break up for good.
Getting back together never solved any of our problems. It was like a band aid over a broken leg. It was like a Pavlovian reaction. I would never ever ever get back together with that guy.
Then, there was someone I dated freshman year. We were too immature then, and when we rekindled our love affair senior year — in what my friends jokingly called “The Year of the Comeback” — we were more ready to be with each other. It was way better than the first time around. We knew we had feelings for each other, but we weren’t ready to be together when we were 18. Second go around, at 22, didn’t end up being right either, but it was worth a shot, and it brought me closure on the whole thing. It was ultimately a healthier relationship with someone I still cared about. That’s sort of one of the best case scenarios of getting back together.
So let’s say you’re broken up and you want to get back together. What’s the best way to approach it? Right now it just feels awkward like a weird take-backsies in kindergarten. Should I email them a .gif of Will Arnett saying, “I’ve made a huge mistake” from Arrested Development? Will that get the message across?
The bigger question is: Does getting back together ever work out? It relies mostly on faith, right? Because while you were broken up, that other person probably slept with or at least flirted with other people. That sort of sucks. (Unless you are polyamorous, then it’s par for the course.) They were single, so obviously it’s okay, but still, now you have to think about what they did when you were broken up and they probably have some questions about what you got up to. Do you divulge that kind of thing? Do you just pretend it never happened and you were never broken up and everything’s perfect?
Doesn’t that sort of rewrite the narrative of your love story into this weird denial zone? Like, “We always knew we were meant for each other.” Did you though? Because one of you banged that bartender she always thought was cute and the other had a drunken threeway in Bermuda. I guess part of getting back together is being mature enough to ignore that stuff, to realize it was what it was and that you were broken up and it had nothing to do with your relationship. That’s being a non-dramatic grown up. Okay. Doable.
Even bigger question: Have you both changed since you were last together? The problems you had that caused this break up will still be there even if you realize you’re super duper meant to be. He’ll still have trouble communicating his feelings, or she’ll still be mayor of Jump To Conclusion-Town. You can’t really expect getting back together to work out if neither of you have worked on your issues. The point of being apart is to better yourself so that when you do get back together, you’re more ready to be in a relationship with this person. You’ve got to figure out why it didn’t work the first time and go from there.
You’ve also got to forgive. You hurt each other. This isn’t like starting over with a fresh, unmarred person. This is someone with whom you have history and scar tissue. To get back together, you have to go into it without grudges or resentment. It all seems very difficult. What if you’re just falling into an easy pattern? What if you need to break the cycle? But also…what if they’re the person for you?
Is it worth the risk?