When to Let an Ex Back In— and When Not to

Is your old flame really worth it, or are you trying to hold on to something that’s long gone?

After breaking up more than three years ago, the hottest celeb couple is officially back on...and smouldering. Of course, we’re talking about Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus, aka Miam. But wait, you thought we meant Chloë Grace Moretz and Brooklyn Beckham? Or maybe Chris Evans and Jenny Slate?

Yeah, lately there seems to be lots of former couples, famous and not, who’ve rekindled their love (even temporarily). In fact, one study found nearly 45 percent of people aged 17 to 24 have gotten back together with an ex at least once. But how do you know if backsliding is a good or bad idea?

Despite that depressing old adage about people never changing, evidence suggests that your connection with someone from the past actually can transform, given the right set of circumstances.

In fact, exes who reunite tend to have a higher level of “intimate self disclosure” than couples who are making it official for the first time, says Sarah Halpern-Meekin, PhD, an associate professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “They’re more likely to share thoughts, fears, hopes, and feelings and feel bonded in an important way,” she explains.

Here’s how to size up whether your happily- ever-after, version 2.0, is a go.


If your split is supa-dupa fresh, odds are, you’re missing bae like crazy. But it’s crucial to give yourself time alone to recuperate from the relationship-ending blow. So, hang with your BFFs. Take a bunch of splurge-y workout classes. Go on dates with people who are totally different from Ex-y McExerson2.

In short: get over them! That might seem counter-intuitive, but research shows that working through the difficulties of a nasty split on your own can help you experience personal growth. “When you are still stinging from a breakup, be cautious about getting back together with your ex, because that risks ripping open partially healed wounds,” says relationship expert Ty Tashiro, PhD, author of Awkward.

If you reconcile right away, you’ll deal with the same BS that irked you before. But if you put in the solo time and work, then if/when you two do reconnect, both of you will have more self-reliance and clearer ideas of what you want in a romantic partner.



No, duh broke up for a reason. Consider if those same problems will prevent you from making it work now. Start with the clear- cut no-nos: “If your partner was abusive or a serial cheater, then 99 percent of time, avoid rekindling the flame,” says Ty. “People’s personalities remain remarkably consistent. Someone who is cruel and emotionally unstable at age 22 will be the same at 42.”

But if you dumped your ex because he was immature, he might have grown up since. Or if you drifted apart due to distance, different conditions now could mean it’s worth another try.





At this point, you may decide to go for it and dive back in. Get it, girl! But in order to make this glorious reunion stick, you have to be willing to let some things slide—like who or what both of you did while you were single, swiping, and on the prowl for someone else.

“It’s natural to wonder about whether an ex dated or had sex with other people, but before interrogating them, ask yourself, what good will that do?” advises Ty. “If it’s simply to satisfy an impulsive curiosity, don’t ask. Little good comes out of torturous history lessons about your partner’s extra- relationship activities.”

Instead, make a pact with each other to start anew and forgive moments from the past (when you were together and, as Ross from Friends would say, when “we were on a break. Then make it a high priority to discuss what you’ve learned from assessing why your first attempt at harmonious coupledom crashed and burned. Share what you hope will change this time, and set clear-cut expectations for what a healthy partnership between you two looks like. Laying groundwork that makes your connection feel brand spankin‘ new— even though it’s familiar—will help your second chapter feel sparkly and clean, like a total romantic reset. And if you’ve made it this far, your reignited flame will burn bright AF.

By Jessica Goodman

This interview was published in the April 2018 issue of Cosmopolitan India.