• Weena Cullins

The Survivor Series: How to Re-Build a Relationship After a BAD Breakup



In the 2nd part of this series, I bring words of wisdom from couples that have gone to the point of no return in their relationships and tried to reunite and rebuild. Can couples that go through BAD break ups get back together successfully? Let’s continue to explore the most hard-earned and valuable lessons from couples that crashed and burned in loving relationships and lived to learn from it on my couch. Following this trustworthy advice will help you determine if you have what it takes to come back stronger than ever, or if you should consider moving on for good.

1. “After the newness of our reunion wore off, our relationship looked exactly the same as it did before we split up. Nothing really changed.”

It’s easy to make a few surface-level changes that provide temporary relief in your relationship. However, if you and your partner don’t slow down and dig beneath the surface to address your problems, you won’t be able to create a stronger, healthier connection.

Solution:

Take time to reflect on what you contributed to the relationship the first time around; the good, the bad, and the ugly parts. It’s true that if you don’t learn from history it’s bound to repeat itself. Couples who get back together successfully own their past mistakes, reflect on what factors contributed to their unhealthy attitudes or behaviors, and resolve to move forward in a healthier direction the next time around. This may mean learning how to be less selfish, not cheating, improving your communication style, or even being more adventurous. Getting back together without making real lasting changes will lead to another breakup, and the next one may be worse than the previous one.

2. “I couldn’t get over the fact that I found out my partner slept with someone else while we were broken up. It felt like I was cheated on.”

This is a common problem that plagues partners as they try to reunite after a bad breakup. Unfortunately, if you can’t get over it, there’s a low chance that your relationship will survive.

Solution:

Move on from what happened in each other’s lives while you were broken up.

One of the biggest inhibitors of a successful reunion is stressing over the details of what happened while you and your partner were on a break. Regardless of who initiated the break up, it’s unfair to hold it against your partner that they dated other people. It might be harder to let go of hurt feelings about your partner's attempts to move on if you didn’t initiate or desire the time out. If you are concerned that your partner broke up with you for the sole purpose of dating or sleeping with someone else, then take the time to evaluate where you two really stand before reuniting. It’s okay to make sure that your partner is truly ready to be committed to you before you make it official again. Constantly bringing up what happened during the break after you’ve reunited isn’t cool. Couples who successfully get back together learn to leave the past in the past. Make room for the future by leaving the past where it belongs.

3. “Dating other people made me miss my ex, but I wasn’t sure if we could fix the problems in our relationship. I ended up reconnecting with my ex while I was still seeing other people. Eventually this created pressure for me to make a decision that I wasn’t ready to make.”

Everyone doesn’t get back out on the dating scene after a bad breakup, but some people do. Whether you’re spending time alone or meeting new people, it’s not uncommon to miss parts of your old relationship. If you aren’t thoughtful about how you move forward, you could ruin your chances of starting fresh with your ex.

Solution:

Sort out your feelings before initiating contact again with your ex. When partners date other people during a break, it typically raises issues of distrust. Set clear boundaries about outside relationships as soon as you decide to reunite. Make sure that any romantic relationships that were developed during the break are finished, and that those parties are aware that you will be off limits should you decide to make it official again with your ex. This rule is especially important to follow if cheating played a part in your breakup.

4. “After months of doing our own thing, one day we just started communicating again. Just like that, my ex and I were back together. There was no real discussion about how it happened. We just naturally fell back into our old routine.”

Even after a bad breakup, some partners let go of their negative feelings and find that they are gravitating toward each other again. If you aren’t careful, you can ignore important cues that you’re reconnecting for the wrong reasons.

Solution:

Examine your motives for getting back together and be able to discuss them up front with your ex. Sometimes the hardest part about breaking up is breaking the habit of being together. Couples who rebuild and find more satisfaction after a breakup realize that there is real value in their partnership and their union. Staying together simply because you have a long shared history or you feel indebted for some reason won’t securely anchor you during the tough times when your level of investment will be tested. Have an honest, mature conversation about the pros and cons of getting back together. If either of you sound shaky about your commitment level or reasons for wanting to try again, then continue to wait and work out the kinks. Going to couples therapy is also a healthy option for learning ways to fix future problems and better meet each other’s needs. If you really want to be together you will find your way back to each other.

Additional Tips:

While you may hope to preserve the parts of the old relationship that truly worked well, the relationship shouldn’t feel the same after the breakup. Initially you can expect it to feel a bit unsafe and awkward. Trust and familiarity need to be re-established as both of you get used to the changes you’ve made. Ultimately, you should strive to be sober-minded and open-minded after getting back together. Conveying realistic optimism and a positive attitude can help instill confidence in you, your partner, and any outsiders who may be against a reunion after your breakup. Most loved ones want to know that you aren’t setting yourself up for additional hurt or unhappiness by returning to an old relationship. Showing that you’ve reflected on what led to the breakup, what corrections need to be made, and how you plan to move forward differently can usually ward off feelings of tension or angst from your support system. Ultimately it’s your decision and it should never be rushed, so make an informed one.


1401 Mercantile Lane, Suite 200-G 

Largo, MD 20774 

Weena Cullins

Marriage & Family Therapist

MS  |  LCMFT

Washington, DC Metro Area

Tel: (301) 592-7244

weenacullins.com

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