Our Best Tips For Rekindling A Relationship With A Past Love

Sometimes a relationship ends for good, and sometimes a breakup isn't meant to last. Love can pull a couple back together after months or years apart. In a dream world, both parties reunite after solid self-reflection, after taking time to work on their respective problems, and can make love work a second time around. It's certainly a tempting proposition. After all, working on issues with someone you know and already have a history with can be easier than starting fresh with someone completely new.

But there can be issues with rekindling a relationship with a past love. After all, you broke up for a reason (or several reasons). Some couples try taking a break rather than breaking up, but for certain couples, a break isn't always the answer. The best and only course of action is a breakup. For other couples, a breakup might be a necessary part of their story, but there could be something that lingers and never quite goes away. If you find yourself in this position, carefully and mindfully assess what's going on. If you're pining for your ex just because you're lonely, or because you went on a few crummy dates, hold back from reaching out. This isn't necessarily the right reason to rekindle a relationship. But if you're ready for a healthy second try, and you're both committed to doing better, then lean into that. You may have to rebuild trust to a certain degree, but if you both really want it, there are ways to rekindle a past love.

Remember that you've changed

Even if you and your partner were only broken up for a matter of months, it's important to remember as you return to that person that you're not the same. Breakups alter people, often pushing each person into self-reflection and some tough but worthwhile soul-searching. And it's not just breakups that change you; as the months or years pass, maybe you've faced career changes, lost or formed new friendships, picked up new hobbies, or shed some bad habits. Know that you're not the exact same person who was in that past relationship.

This is important for a few reasons. For one, it's helpful to be aware of those changes to note how they'll impact the relationship. "Over time, we learn new things about ourselves and develop different perspectives, so of course you may develop different needs or have a change in plans for the future," licensed marriage and family therapist Chelsea Davis told Women's Health. "Make sure you're able to communicate these things to your partner so that both of you have a fair opportunity to make each other happy." It can be a hugely positive thing to note how you're a different person as you stick your toes back in that familiar water. Maybe there was something that made you feel insecure in the relationship, like a lack of career experience, or education. Time and hard work have rectified those things. You can return with your head held high and a newfound sense of self-esteem.

Consciously assess how much they've changed

While you want to give the relationship 2.0 a fresh start, it's imperative that you remember why you broke up in the first place. If that sore spot is still an issue, then a second time around likely won't make much of a difference. "If you truly want to consider getting back with an ex, it may work if the reason that you two broke up is no longer an issue," Shan Boodram, Bumble's sex and relationships expert, told The Zoe Report. "For example, if you originally ended things because you were in a long-distance relationship, but now live in the same city, it may be worth reconnecting."

As you give your ex-partner a second try, pay attention to the ways in which they've changed. It's unrealistic to expect them to have frozen in time; you're returning to someone who's older and hopefully wiser. Embrace these signs of growth in your partner. If the relationship fell apart because you felt overwhelmed by them, support your partner's efforts to make friends and pursue hobbies outside of the relationship.

However, you have to accept some déjà vu. Just because you're both thrilled to be reunited doesn't mean that some of those past problems have vanished. "Unless an issue was one-dimensional (like someone being jobless and now they are employed), most situations don't simply disappear and people don't change without making the effort to change and being shown how to change," neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez told Today. "It is unrealistic to simply say, let's just start fresh."

Therapy might be your greatest resource

As you venture back into a relationship with someone from your past, it can be a very good idea to start (or continue) working with a therapist. While this isn't a must, many experts stress the importance of outside help, for individuals and potentially for the couple together. Don't be shy to suggest couples therapy to your rekindled love.

It's all about breaking the patterns that tripped you up the first time around. "Many times, our relationships are impacted by patterns. Typically, the arguments you first had with your partner will continue unless a new pattern is learned," licensed mental health counselor Stephanie Moir told Women's Health. "Therapy is a safe place for each of you to learn where you are coming from and how to better communicate with each other."

And let's be honest; we all could use a little help with communication, especially when it comes to romantic partners. Therapy can really help with this. "Working with a couples counselor can be highly beneficial. If you skip over this process, you can miss a huge opportunity for you and your partner to grow and increase your communication skills, which is the foundation for a successful relationship," Susan Zinn, founder of Westside Counseling Center, told Today. Give you and your partner the extra help of an outside expert who can walk you through this new yet familiar chapter.

Let this next chapter be different

You're getting back together with an ex largely because you missed some of their wonderful qualities and the special things about them that made them unique. Of course, there will be familiar things. That's part of the appeal of reuniting with an ex. But don't forget to give this new chapter a real shot. Treat it as something fresh and new. Date again! Plan special outings and activities; dress up for each other. Flirt. Enjoy all of those wonderful sensations that come in early relationships. Yes, it's with someone familiar, but you're in a new chapter.

The biggest part of approaching Relationship 2.0 as a fresh start is letting go of the resentments and toxicity from Relationship 1.0. There's a difference between calmly talking about what went wrong the first time, and harboring old grudges from the first go around. To the absolute best of your ability, forgive and let go of the fighting and hurt feelings that marred chapter one. "If you hold on to old trauma, drama, and pain from the past, it doesn't leave room for a new version of your relationship to occur," Zinn told Today. "You will never forget what happened, but if you hang on so tightly to the past, it doesn't allow you room to create something beautiful in your future." You absolutely need to talk about what went wrong the first time, but do so in an open-minded state, and be ready to forgive and let go.

Go slowly

Just because it's familiar territory, don't leap back in or expect to dive into a level of intimacy like how things were in the golden age of Relationship 1.0. It's good to take things slow as you enter the second chapter of your relationship. Continually check in with your partner, and make sure that things are feeling right for both of you. "It is important that both people are on the same page about what they want and also honestly evaluate if they can meet each other's expectations," psychotherapist Niro Feliciano told Today. "You want to feel that your partner's expectations for you and the relationship are realistic. If not, that in and of itself is a breeding ground for conflict."

Even if you're beyond thrilled to be back with your partner, be sure to continue nurturing your own life, hobbies, needs, and career. Invest in friendships, family, and meaningful connections outside of your relationship too, in order to avoid the risk of losing yourself in the relationship. You want a solid sense of self in order to thrive in the relationship, especially the second time around.