Your ex is usually an example of who not to be with and what not to do. But, if you really insist on taking him or her back (and maybe go to couple’s therapy in the meantime!), it can work out, if both parties work it.
Get it together.
The first order of business, is, you’ve got to get it together. If you two were a hot mess together—chances are, you might have been a little bit of a hot mess on your own, and you, yes you, miss thang, were contributing to that messiness. Ouch, but it’s the truth. If you’re splitsville because you were overly jealous, had some type of super destructive and unhealthy habit (drugs, binge drinking, etc), or weren’t contributing anything to the relationship except drama, then rekindling the flame and repeating these same behaviors again is going to yield the same results. If it’s because he was cheating or not contributing anything, make sure you’re ready to forgive him and let go of that hurt before you even think about entering into second chance. The bottom line is that you’ve got to get yourself together first before you try to get him back. It’s like the oxygen mask on the plane—secure your own oxygen mask first, before you try to help someone else. He does not want to be back with you to argue, fuss, fight , and be miserable. Trust me, I promise.
Think about why you want to get back together.
This requires real, radical, honestly. Be totally honest with yourself about why you want to get back together. Is it because it’s been a few months and you haven’t found someone new? Is it because you’re afraid you won’t find someone else with XYZ criteria? Is it because it was familiar and comfortable, and you fear the unknown? Is it because you don’t like to be alone? Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, lest you find yourself cycling through unhealthy relationship after unhealthy relationship and repeating the same behaviors with different partners.
Hear each other out; that means constructive criticism–aka complaints–too.
If, after some soul searching, you decide that you absolutely must revisit this relationship, sit down with your ex and talk about the deal breakers that got you two here. You’ve got to revisit them in conversation if you don’t want to revisit them again in experience. It may not necessarily be about who’s right and wrong; it may be more about what you’re each willing to tolerate. If you can’t come to an agreement or get past this step, do you really want to go through this again? Remember that if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had—that means you’ve got to try something different to get different results.
Make shift happen.
Conversation about complaints and the reason you broke up is a great place to start, but it’s not the end of the road. You’ve got to actually make changes—both of you. Changes can be as simple as finding one nice thing to say to each other every day, responding to messages in a more timely manner, him showing up on time for dates, you not flipping out when he’s got to stay at work late. It’s a team effort and you’ve both got to be doing your part, after clearly identifying and communicating to each other what that part is and what it will look like.
Dump the old relationship.
You can dump your old relationship without dumping your partner, believe it or not. What does that look like? Avoid blaming and mudslinging regarding the past during current problem solving sessions. Don’t tell each other that you’re committed to a new relationship; show it by changing your behaviors. From this point forward, connect with each other using a strengths focused point of view. Compliment each other; make it a habit to be appreciative of little things your partner does; focus on all his/her great qualities. Remember that you’re only responsible for you, and do your best. Good luck to you!