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October 21, 2009

Should You Try Again with an Ex?

He Said/She Said

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Photo Credit: Goldmund/istock Images

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HE SAID: We’ve all been there, right? You break up. Time goes by. Things get quiet, and then out of nowhere you get an innocent text message, e-mail, or phone call. Before you know it, “How’s it going?” leads “Sure I can meet” which turns into “Why did I break up with him again?” and ends with the question “Should I try this again?” No, you shouldn't.

Exes are like old clothes in your closet. Sometimes they fit, sometimes they don’t. They may be out of style. You may not like to wear them, or maybe you do, or maybe you just wear them once in a while. For whatever reason, though, you just cannot bear to throw them away. Just like the clothes you keep in your closet and no longer wear, there is a reason that your exes are just that.

Time apart from an ex can provide a moment of clarity about the relationship that was not possible or difficult to achieve during it. Hindsight gives us the ability to savor our regret, and reconsider the choice we made. In vulnerable moments, though, hindsight also affords us the opportunity to crave something that was flawed but comfortable over the journey of understanding what it is that we truly want in a partner.

If you regret the choice to end a relationship and recognize that it was right for you and meets your needs, then do everything you can to revive it. Otherwise, have the courage and conviction to leave your ex in your past. In either case, be decisive.

In the end, settling for someone you have had before knowing full-well that they are not the answer to your relationship needs does more harm than good because it reinforces that you cannot have or deserve what you want. Now, call me a romantic, but I think that everyone deserves to have an amazing, life altering, loving, and passionate relationship. Do we all get one? No, but if we do not have the will to try, how will we ever know if we can?

SHE SAID: There are two kinds of exes you're tempted to try again with. There’s the short two-monther romance that barely had time to get off the ground before bad timing and the like intervened. And then there’s the one that made you swear you would never love again and get a third cat. Go ahead and see if it works with that guy you had a summer fling with a few years ago...but as for the latter? Don't attempt it unless one or both of you has changed sufficiently to possibly make it work.

The caveat, of course, is that people don't change.

Well, they do, of course, but not when and how you want them to. The chronic cheater you dumped may very well mature into the monogamous man of your dreams...but his moral makeover won’t happen five weeks after the breakup when you’re considering getting back together with him. I don’t believe that once a cheater, always a cheater, but I do believe in "once a cheater, next month a cheater." There are the rare exceptions of course—perhaps one of you had a change of heart about a dealbreaker issue like children or religion—in which case, proceed with caution. But for those exes that don’t fall into that category (and most don’t), what’s the rush?

Give it some time. Let yourself go through the entire breakup aftershock and all the wet tissues, promises to join a convent, and bitchfests with friends that the process entails. Pining for a toxic ex is like craving drive-through junk food. They’re right there and exactly what you want at the moment, but you’ll regret it in the morning. It too shall pass, so let it.

On the Soapbox

Abraham Lloyd is a divorced dad, closet geek, and aspiring author dating in New York City. He believes all men should own at least five jackets, know how to dance, and pay on a first date. You can tweet him at twitter.com/abrahamlloyd.

Diana Vilibert is Marie Claire's associate Web editor, a chronic oversharer, closet romantic, and blind-date addict. You can e-stalk her at diana-vilibert.com.


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