In relationships, things go wrong and break ups happen, but an astonishing 71% of people find that they can't stop thinking about their ex. So what happens if your ex can't stop thinking about you either? Do you give it another go? Your friends and family might think you're making a mistake, however, when push comes to shove, only you can decide whether or not it's worth rekindling that old flame.

First of all, you may want to read my post on reasons you can’t move on from a past relationship, to check if there are issues that are drawing you back to your ex which could simply reflect unfinished business or lack of closure, rather than the suitability of you both getting back together again. You may also want to remind yourself of why you walked away from your relationship, to check that you are not going back to a scenario that is more than likely to end in disaster again.  

After due consideration of all the issues, if you've decided to revisit an old relationship, there's a few things to keep in mind. You both need to be prepared for the challenges that dating an ex throws up, and to brace yourself for the rocky road that lies ahead. If you've decided it's worth taking the risk, here are some dating rules to give you the best chance of success.

1. Wipe the slate

Maybe you were unfaithful, or maybe your partner was possessive. Perhaps both of you were immature and unready to commit fully to the relationship. Whatever reasons led to the downfall of your partnership the first time around, you will only be successful this time if you start with a clean slate. That means no dredging up the past, no sniping about previous misdemeanors and no harking back to how things went wrong. Look to the future with renewed positivity.

2. The pursuit of knowledge

While openness and honesty are often the best policy, when you're dating your ex it's probably best to keep the time you were apart as a closed book. Accept it – you were probably both involved in other relationships, fell in love again, dated other people. If you're honest with yourself, you know it'll hurt to find out the details of everything your partner did, and they'll feel the same way about you. Keep your questions to a minimum, mind your own business and spare yourselves the pain. Your future together should be your focus.

3. Make a brand new start

A new relationship begins with learning about each other, laying the foundations and building upon them. With an ex, all the groundwork has already been done. You already know so much that it can be hard not to make assumptions. But it is precisely these preconceptions that will be your downfall. Imagine you were meeting for the first time. Let go of your set ideas, keep the past in the past, stay anchored in the present and look at each other with fresh eyes.

4.The wisdom of caution

As Shakespeare once said, “Love is blind, and lovers cannot see”. Never walk blindly into a relationship with an ex. Caution and care are essential, especially if you fell foul of an untrustworthy partner the first time around. On the other hand, showing your mistrust from the outset is likely to be the death knell of your blossoming relationship's success. Be wary. Find out the way the land lies, and assume nothing.

5. Don't let the past become the future

Be analytical. Take the time to think about why your previous relationship failed. It's only through awareness of your errors that you can take steps to avoid making the same mistakes again. Which behaviors do you need to change? Perhaps your possessiveness was the problem? So make sure they have all the space they need. Did you never show your feelings? Then celebrate the special moments like birthdays and anniversaries by giving thoughtful presents that show your emotions. A romantic gift from the heart will speak a thousand words.

6. Don't fall too soon

The relationship feels familiar, and you probably feel safe in your ex's arms. It's easy to understand why you might fall in love again with shocking speed. But before you fall for them again, you should stop and take stock. Is this relationship really one you want to pursue in the long term, or do you just crave that familiarity?

7. Easy does it

In any new relationship, the physical side is something that should be allowed to develop slowly and naturally. When your new partner is also your ex, the temptation to pick up where you left off can be overpowering. But, becoming intimate again too quickly is always a mistake. Treat every aspect of your romance as if it was for the first time, and proceed with caution. Are you really looking for lasting love with your ex, or like 37% of those who sleep with an ex, are you just looking for temporary comfort?

8. Get your nearest and dearest on board

Face the facts, your friends and family probably aren't going to be overjoyed about your rekindled romance. When everything went sour last time, they were the ones you went crying to, so no wonder they're sceptical now. However, negativity from your loved ones could crush your burgeoning relationship before it has the chance to flower. Persuade those closest to you to give your love another chance to work out happily, and to give your partner another opportunity to impress them.

9. Take an adventure together

Old habits die hard, and if you date your ex it's all too easy to start following the same paths that led to disaster before. However, if you never try new things together, you are probably going to be staring failure in the face before long. Jump into the unknown together. Take a risk. Be brave. Set yourselves a challenge to accomplish something together that you have never tried before. A brand new future lies ahead, and he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose. 

In conclusion

Getting back with your ex may not work out for everybody, but if you follow these guidelines you may find that you are each other's soulmate. Give yourself the best chance of success and happiness by allowing the past to remain in the past, and keep your eyes firmly fixed on your future. Do you think that you've finally found happiness? Then read this article to check that your relationship is a healthy one.

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   

Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS