Tis the season, though isn’t it always? You and your ex split up only to fall back into each other’s arms, hearts and beds. And stars, they’re just like us, because this season celebs have reunited with their exes; some to our surprise, others not so much. Gigi Hadid is back with Zayn Malik. Katy Perry is back Orlando Bloom. Emma Watson and Andrew Garfield. Jax Taylor and Brittany Cartwright. John Cena and Nikki Bella. And even Bella Hadid and The Weeknd were spotted swapping spit and holding hands more than once as of late.
Which is cool, and is what it is. We root for and cheer on celeb couples to get back together and to make it work, the same way we often hope for fairy tale endings for ourselves, and our nearest and dearest. There’s something seemingly romantic about two beautiful people not being able to get enough of one another, no matter whether or only a few weeks, months or years has past.
But remember, dear readers: breakups happen for a reason. Breaking up is one of the hardest things to do, and so isn’t done without cause, reason or purpose. And so, to just expect things to be different this go around is to be very naive, even if you’re intentions are pure. Because here’s the thing: if you just jump back in without having any boundaries or without talking about where you stand and how this reunion differ, things will play out just like they did last time.
If you’ve found you’re self hooking up with your old flame, here are 7 boundaries to draw if you’re still hooking up with or seeing your ex:
Don’t Repeat The Same Mistakes:
They say, “She who is shipwrecked twice is foolish to blame the sea,” so please, sweet reader, don’t be that girl. Did you break up because he had anger management issues? Or because he got a little too self-destructive after a few too many drinks? If you notice these behaviours emerging again, which you likely will (unless they did intense therapy) then you need to change your reaction. If you react the same like you used to (for example pleading with him to stop, arguing back, being defensive, etc.,) then you’ll jump right back into where you left off before you finally had the nerve to call it quits. The only way for your dynamic to change is if you change your response. If his anger emerges on the phone, hang up. Via text? Don’t text back. IRL? Walk away. By seeing him again, knowing full well what he’s like is fine, so long as it doesn’t bring you down or take over your health or well-being. You have control at any time by removing yourself from a situation that’s no longer serving you. They too will learn that your expectations of them changed, creating a healthier boundary and hopefully healthier behaviours. If you and your ex broke up because you became to co-dependant, or because you didn’t like their unhealthy habits then make sure you speak up or take a step back if these patterns begin to emerge. For example if you catch yourself bailing out of plans with your bff’s to spend time cozied up on the couch in front of Netflix with bae? Bid bae adieu and hang with him after, or the day after. Hone back into that independence you gained when you were separated and don’t make the same mistake twice. Is his drinking or poor habits changing yours? Be aware and don’t fall into the same rabbit hole. The best thing that comes from a break up is the ability to grow so you don’t make the same mistakes again. The goal is to blossom, not to drown.
Don’t Accept Every Invitation to Hang:
This is less about playing hard to get and more about not falling into the similar patterns. A relationship is best when you both have your own independent lives outside of each other. It also takes space from one another to be more aware of your true thoughts and feelings without taking on theirs. You know how you didn’t realize how bad the relationship was until you broke free from it and had time apart? That’s because we tend to wear rosy-shaded glasses when our emotions are involved. That’s why space is key to creating healthier boundaries and a healthier dynamic.
Leave The Past In The Past:
If you agree to start seeing your ex again, then you need to let go of past hurts and feelings of being hard done by. A healthy relationship isn’t about keeping tabs, referencing their poor decisions or even judging them for what once was. If you can’t get over that or black it out (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind style) then you shouldn’t be hanging with them. Past hurt and resentment doesn’t bode well in rendezvous with former flames. Find someone else to hook up with or date who doesn’t share all this heated history with you if you can’t let it go.
Don’t Discuss What Went On When You Weren’t Together
(If You Can’t Handle It)
When you guys were split up you may have been a nun or you may have hooked up with someone. You may have gone on dates or even had a fling. But you were broken up and don’t owe your ex anything. If you do discuss what happened when you broke up, try to be mindful of not judging them about what they did after you guys called it quits. This is what caused Rachel and Ross to ultimately mess up their chances of getting back together (at least, for a handful of years,) in the most infamous “We were on a break” episode. It’s better to just agree to move forward. It’s about the present. And the present shouldn’t be you spending your days and nights on Instagram stalking a girl he met at a bar who he once made out with. That’s not a healthy way to be for anyone. Worse, we’re so quick to label other girls sluts, or whores or bitches and the like when they aren’t doing anything wrong. You broke up, or were separated which means your ex wasn’t your property. Just because you decided to focus on you to handle the split in a healthy way, doesn’t mean your ex is wrong or bad for choosing a way that worked for him to move forward. Don’t bring other women down just because you’re hurt or jealous. Better to just not have ‘The Talk,’ with your ex altogether.
Don’t Stand For The Same Unflattering Behaviour:
Hang up the phone. Don’t respond to texts. Walk away. People have learned ways of being and those tend to not change over time unless they go to therapy and really put work into changing. So if you’re jumping back into a situation, you’re going to have to be the one to change your relationship pattern. This means changing how you react. If he texts you something rude and your past way of responding was to immediately text back and defend yourself, know that that didn’t work in the first place. So don’t stand up for it now. Over time, your ex will see that they can’t treat you how these once did because frankly, you’re no longer putting up with it. By setting this boundary you are showing them that they won’t get the same rise out of you they once did.
Be Aware of Broken Record Behaviours:
The more time you spend with your ex, the more you’ll see the same old behaviours beginning to emerge. When a couple gets back together it tends to start all hot and heavy and romantic as one of you tends to be on your best behaviour to get the other back. But as soon as comfort takes over, and the need to impress or woo has come and gone, old patterns emerge. Be mindful when they arise and don’t take them personally. If you’re choosing to see someone knowing what they’re really like, then realize the good will always come alongside the bad. Instead of investing into analyzing these actions and behaviours by yourself or with friends, let them roll off your shoulder. You know what you’re signing up for so notice them, and let them pass without letting it affect your well-being.
Don’t Jump Into Anything:
This includes bringing them around your friends or family, or becoming “official” or posting images of each other on social media again like nothing ever happened. It may be tempting, especially after being apart for some time to dive right back in where you left off, but it can be jarring to people, especially close friends and family who were there for you when you broke up. Outsiders want the best for you, and they will be discouraged at first to hear you got back with your ex because they know the inner workings of your failed relationship and the sorrow that followed after its demise. Also, though it may be exciting to share your love from the top of the mountains, things can change over time as true behaviours start to come out. Slow and steady wins the raise. You need time together to see if it will work this go around and act based on learned experiences overtime, as opposed to false promises, changed expectations or loneliness.
With all these tips, you can set yourself up for a renewed relationship, but if you’re struggling to stand up for yourself, or your situation turns toxic, abusive in anyway, or leaves you feeling more sad than happy know when to walk away.
You got this.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Jen Kirsch)