Should You Give Your Ex a Second Chance?

Kirstie Taylor
Photo by Mathilde Langevin from Pexels

Love is one of the most challenging experiences you’ll go through.

Everyone wants love, yet it’s not that easy to find. There’s a lot of heartbreak and vulnerability involved, not to mention all the confusing scenarios you have to navigate.

One of those scenarios you might find yourself in is an ex trying to come back into your life. Many people suggest cutting ties and never giving them a second chance, but life is more nuanced than that.

The question remains: should you give your ex a second chance?

Well, that depends on your circumstances. I won’t sit here and act like second chances never work. Hell, I went on several dates with my boyfriend before I decided to end things. Then, six months later, we decided to give things another try.

It’s a hard decision to make when you don’t want to re-live the pain you already went through, but you still have feelings for someone. To help you make a more logical decision, I’ve put together a list of questions to ask yourself and some to ask your ex:

Was the trust in your relationship broken?

Trust comes in more forms than cheating. You can also break someone’s trust by hiding things and withholding emotions. But without trust in a relationship, studies have shown that couples don’t feel safe or accepted.

If your relationship ended because of betrayal, it’s going to be a long and challenging journey to rebuild that trust. Does that feel worth it to you? If we’re talking about a relationship you were in for months or a few years, you might be better off starting fresh with someone new.

But that choice is yours. If you want to try things again, come up with a plan to trust your partner again. Make sure they’re on the same page and want to do what it takes to help you feel safe with them again.

It’s a long process that could take months or years. Make sure they’re worth it.

Do you hold any resentment towards them?

It’s okay to harbor negative feelings towards your ex, especially if you had a nasty breakup. But if you don’t express those feelings and come up with a solution (together) about how to alleviate them, you’ll keep resenting them.

Resentment is the secret killer of many relationships. It builds when one person doesn’t feel heard or understood. With every unmet need, your partner becomes easier and easier to blame for your unhappiness.

If you’re holding a lot of resentment towards your ex, you may need more time to process your feelings without them. The last thing you want is to try and build a new relationship on rocky ground.

What changed since you both broke up?

Remember how I said I dumped my boyfriend once before? That’s because I wasn’t ready to date him. He was the most secure, kind, and healthy person I dated, yet I found it all overwhelming and a major turn-off.

I spent the months after I ended things figuring out why I wasn't attracted to emotionally healthy people. I asked myself hard questions like what would my life be like if I kept dating toxic people. I promised myself that I’d actively work against my attraction to emotionally distant people.

It was after all that change that I was ready for my boyfriend. And I’m grateful he gave me a second chance.

Not everyone does the work to change, though. Your ex has to want it for themselves, not just because you asked. And the fact is if nothing changed between when you broke up and now, you’re bound to repeat the same relationship.

So I want you not only to ask yourself what changed, but you need to ask your ex as well.

Are there any unresolved problems in the relationship?

The fact you’re even considering giving your ex a second chance is because you hope things will be different. But time apart doesn’t solve problems. So what were the issues in your relationship that have gone unresolved?

Identifying those gives both of you a starting point for things you need to talk about before ever considering a reconciliation. If one has a habit like not respecting or prioritizing the other, that problem will still be there the second time around.

And if they’re unwilling to admit their faults and promise to work to fix things, then what’s the point of trying again? Old dating behaviors are hard to break. The other person needs to create a game plan and show you actions that things could be different.

Are they a good person?

Now we get to the good stuff. There are non-negotiable behaviors that aren’t worth forgiving. If your partner was abusive, emotionally or physically, you owe it to yourself to cut off contact with them and move on with your life.

The same goes for someone who lets their insecurities or ego hurt you. If your ex isn’t a good person (and be honest with yourself, you know if they are or not), then there shouldn’t be a question of whether to give them a second chance.

You have to take someone’s actions and behaviors at face value. If they don’t treat you well, respect you, and are kind to the people in your life, then they aren’t good for you. Often, these kinds of people can be very manipulative and will do anything to squirm their way back into your life.

Don’t let them.

Second chances can work, regardless of what people say. But I must emphasize that it takes a lot of growth, willingness to admit one’s faults, and eventual forgiveness to do so. Most couples don’t succeed.

But if your ex is honest, open, apologetic, and acts in ways that show they’re serious about a better future for you both, you might have a shot. As I said, love is a confusing journey. Only you can know if it’s worth giving your ex a second chance.

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Dating, relationship, and self-love writer. Helping the hopeless romantics of the world feel more hopeful.

Los Angeles, CA

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