Don't. Call. Me. Ever. Again. Who among us hasn't uttered these five words to a boyfriend in the heat of a breakup? But you may find yourself missing the guy and wondering if things could have been different. Your ex is familiar territory, but is it a country that you should consider revisiting?
Should you get back together?
"Start with an honest review of why the relationship ended," suggests Lou Paget, AASECT Certified Sex Educator and best-selling author of"The Great Lover Playbook." "Behavior speaks louder than words."
There are some circumstances under which you should never try and reunite with an ex. If he was abusive toward you, either physically or verbally, it's a no-brainer: Don't get back together.
If there was cheating involved, ask yourself if you can truly trust him again. If you can put the incident in the past — fine. But if you'll be checking his e-mail and searching his coat pockets for credit card receipts, that's a big red flag that you shouldn't rekindle things.
Sometimes a relationship ends due to circumstances. Maybe one of you had to take a job in a different city or the timing just wasn't right. "Ask yourself if there are more benefits to trying than not trying," says Paget. "But don't let regret be the sole driving force."
Angela, 22, had been dating her boyfriend Chris for two years when things started to go downhill. She decided to break things off. But then a few months later, she had a change of heart. "I realized he had a great personality, was good-looking, ambitious — unlike many men I had met during our time apart. It's hard to find a good guy in New York, or anywhere for that matter, so I decided to get back with him." While getting back together with an ex just because you realize that the other fish in the sea are all scrod isn't a great idea, recognizing that you had unrealistic expectations of your partner can make for a successful reunion.
For some women, getting back together with an ex is like slipping on a pair of sweat pants — it's easy and feels natural. But that doesn't mean getting back together is the right thing to do.
With months or years of distance since you broke up, it's easy to see the relationship through rose-colored glasses. Make sure that you remind yourself not just about the good things, but also of the reasons things turned rocky.
"Take responsibility for your role in the break up. Think about how you have evolved and [if you're considering renewing the relationship] how you can now be a better partner," suggests Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D. and author of "Sex with Your Ex & 69 Other Things You Should Never Do Again."
Six steps to winning him back
Once you've decided that your reasons for getting back together are sound, here's how to proceed.
Run it by the girls. "Ask your closest friends if they think it's a good idea," says Paget. "They have only your best interests in mind and will tell you if this partner treated you the way you should be treated."
Listen to your instincts. Paget says to "Pay attention to your little voice warnings and your reactions — they don't lie." Getting back together with your ex might feel like an easy solution in the moment, but if your heart and head are not in it, you're just prolonging disaster.
Call him. "I tried to get back with my high school ex a few years ago," says Clarissa, 28. "He had been through a divorce and I was also going through a tough period and since we'd known each other for so long, it was just really comfortable."
When Clarissa wanted her high school hottie back, she simply pulled out her cell phone. "One day after not having any contact for five years I decided to try and get a hold of him." She got his cell phone number from a mutual friend and just dialed. "I'm sometimes still shocked at myself for doing it!" she says.
But not all reunions end in romance. "After six months together, I decided to move to Europe. Rather than being upset he supported me 100 percent," says Clarissa. "We ended up meeting other people but I'm glad to say he's now one of my best friends. I'm glad that I tried to get him back otherwise I wouldn't have such a great friend in my life!"
Plan a daytime rendezvous — and don't have sex right away. Resist the urge to go for drinks at your fave after-hours lounge and do lunch instead. "Don't get horizontal too quickly," warns Paget. "There's plenty of time to be sexual so don't let that cloud your heart and your thinking. Too often because people already have that intimacy established they return there before they have properly assessed if the rematch should occur."
Work on yourself. "I was in love with my boyfriend, and he was in love with all of his guy friends," says Madeleine, 33. "His motto was 'bros before hos.' I walked out on him and I told him to not contact me and to leave me alone until he came to his senses."
Instead of trying to lure her man back, Madeleine focused on improving her own circumstances. "I decided to leave our hometown. I started looking at grad schools and then apartments. Within a few weeks I was enrolled in school and had secured a lease."
Madeleine won her man back by showing him just what he was missing — and that her life was moving on without him. "Within six months he proposed. We live back in our hometown and now have two beautiful children."
Make a statement. If you try the above and still can't seem to win him back, you may have to make a grand gesture. The grand gesture is the pull-out-all-the-stops, hold-a-boom-box-up-to-his-bedroom-window last chance for love. You have the advantage of knowing this guy well, so play into the way he communicates. If he's an intellectual guy, write him a letter spilling all your feelings for him. If he's the more physical type, show up at his door in a raincoat with a black bra and panty set underneath. (And if all else fails, bake him brownies. No guy can resist 'em.)
Second time's a charm
So assuming you get your guy back, how do you ensure that things will be different the second time around? For starters, don't get angry at him about the other women he dated while you two were "on a break."
"Be aware you both will have had other experiences after things ended." Paget says. "Don't expect it to be the same playing field — it's not."
"I think for the most part the breakup is behind us," says Angela, who is still going strong with Chris. "It still irks me sometimes to think that during those few months apart there were other girls in his life, but there were other guys in mine too, so I can't complain."
Angela and Chris successfully reunited because they started with a clean slate. "We had time for questions, and we talked about everything and reassured each other that the time apart allowed us to realize we wanted to be with each other, not with other people," she says.
Once you're reunited, turn your gaze inward from time to time. "Remember, you learn plenty about the other person in a relationship but who you really learn about is YOU," says Paget. "Make it better the second time by learning from your mistakes." Ask yourself: Are you making your partner an important part of your life? Are you taking him or her for granted?
"Be the partner you would want to be involved with," says Fulbright.
Getting back together with an ex can be healthy — as long as you're both happy. "Any relationship is unhealthy if it doesn't make you feel good," Paget says.