One cliche I hear often is true- relationships are hard work. Sometimes, having time apart is the best thing you can do for a partnership that isn’t quite working. It’s not rare to need time away from a significant parter- actually, it can be healthy to take the time you need to figure out yourself before recommitting to a relationship.
Research has found that 44% of adults in romantic relationships were able to reconnect with an ex-partner after a break. A relationship break can be an opportunity for a fresh start and allow space and perspective for the heart to grow fonder.
Anyone who has been in this position knows that it can be daunting to reconnect with an ex after a relationship break. For a lot of us, the idea of moving on with someone else- and the clean slate you could have- is much more appealing.
However, if you can move through conflict and heal past pain, you allow the opportunity to grow even closer, to understand yourself more deeply, and to actually create healthy patterns you can carry forward. Moving on with a different partner, without doing the work after a relationship ends, usually results in partners repeating the same ineffective patterns with someone new.
Though breaks can be a good thing, it can be awkward to reconnect with someone after having taken time apart, regardless of the reason you took the break. Today, we’re sharing tips on how to reconnect so you can feel good about your new relationship, get back into a groove with ease, and set up your relationship to work- so that you can feel assured that you are moving your partnership in the right direction.
How to reconnect after a relationship break
Have an honest conversation
Get the uncomfortable topics out of the way and clear any awkward energy by having an honest conversation. You should be open about what led to one or both of you needing the break, how you spent your time apart, and what changes you are committed to taking forward in the relationship. Make sure you get anything out in the open about your time apart so you don’t have surprises down the road.
Be open with your partner and ask the tough questions of them that will get you headed in the right direction.
Listen to your body
Cliche as it sounds, when we are in new or stressful scenarios, like re-engaging with someone from our past, the your intuition will send you signals about its felt sense of safety through your body. Notice how you feel and honor yourself and what you need.
When you reconnect, are you nervous, excited, or numb? Does your heart race or do you feel knots in your stomach? These cues will all give you good information about your level of comfort with this person. If you want to try to rekindle but you feel something in your gut telling you, after all this time, this isn’t right, it may be worth listening to yourself.
Agree on what happened
Having a conversation about the break itself is crucial. But it’s equally important to get on the same page about what happened before you took the break.
What wasn’t working? Can you both see how your own actions impacted the other person? Can you see where there may have been gaps between intention and impact?
And most importantly, can you see how things will be different moving forward? Ask open ended questions (like the ones suggested here) to facilitate a productive dialogue with your partner.
Repair past problems
If you have taken a break from your relationship, you likely dealt with some hurt on one or both sides.
Contrary to the popular saying, time does not heal all wounds. It depends on what you do with that time. Simply taking a break from the relationship and expecting to come back having forgotten about past hurts will not work. Resentments and pain will end up coming out sideways and impacting you both if they are not dealt with properly.
Equally important parts of this process are having honest and repairing conversations with your partner, and learning how to heal and find safety within yourself.
Learning how to deal with breakup pain will help you both heal individually and together as a couple. Healing on you own will allow you to feel more connected with your partner.
Acknowledge how the past impacted each of you
To really flush out these experiences of repair, agree first on what happened. See the past through your own lens and incorporate the other’s point of view.
Acknowledge how you have impacted each other and show remorse for the ways you have hurt one another.
Agree on what will be different moving forward
Most crucially, agree on what will be different moving forward. What used to happen in times of stress in the relationship? What are you going to do differently this time that will assure you that you won’t continue to get stuck into the same old patterns?
Have a conversation that is specific and reasonable. Share what you’ve learned from your experience and time apart.
- What will you both offer to do differently?
- What are things you both are bringing forward that could personally improve the relationship?
- Can you hear each other’s feedback about what you need?
- Can you have empathy and take into account one another’s needs, even if they are different from your own?
Define your boundaries
What are expectations that you need to have met, and what are boundaries that you cannot have crossed? Be honest with uncovering those for yourself and communicating those with your partner.
Also be open and willing to hearing theirs, and only move forward if you reasonably think you can respect what they share.
Spend quality time together
It’s been a while since you got to just enjoy each other. Spend quality time together by doing things you both enjoy that allow you to reconnect more deeply. See if you can find something that gets you out of your heads and into the moment so you can notice what really experiencing each other’s energy feels like.
Spending time together, focused on each other, can help to reconnect with your partner on an emotional level. Watch a movie, spend time outside, or share a meal together- choose something that makes you feel connected to one another.
Let go of the relationship you once had
This step can be really hard, but grieving your old relationship is necessary. Don’t hold onto the past if you want to make room for a new start.
We are all constantly changing, growing, and evolving as we learn new information and have new experiences. Likewise, relationships grow and evolve as the people within them move through their individual paths.
The relationship you once had is not going to be available to you anymore. You know things now that you didn’t know then, and you have seen parts of your partner you didn’t see then.
Moving forward means moving into a new relationship with new boundaries, rules, and expectations. It also means letting go of the one you once had.
Consider going to therapy if you continue to get stuck
Couples therapy can guide couples in all points of their relationship, especially in big transitions which is where people tend to get stuck.
A couple or family therapist will help you learn how to reconnect, process past pain, and build a healthy relationship going forward. Most importantly, counseling helps couples to rebuild trust which fosters romantic connection and serves as the foundation for your new relationship.
If you live in Florida, we provide online therapy services to all Florida residents through our Marriage Counseling Naples, FL online program.