We all have that one person who turned everything upside down. This was the one who changed your world, made you different, helped you grow, and utterly shattered your heart. Whether you actually dated them or simply lusted from afar, this “one that got away” is one of the most devastating lovers to lose.
So what do you do when the one that got away comes running back into your arms? The answer might not be as cut and dry as you’d think!
My “you only dream about this” breakup/crawl-back experience – the early years
I dated my high school boyfriend for 3 years, and to this day, I still believe that I truly loved him. We had a very ideal relationship – until he dumped me, obviously. He was close to my parents, open, honest, adored me, and I was equally crazy about spoiling him with love and affection.
I was so confident in what a catch I was *charming, right?*, and so trusting of my man and how great we were together, that I never bothered exercising jealousy in my relationship… Until about a month before we parted ways.
After a few weeks of emotional distance on his part, I noticed that his teenage co-worker was overly flirtatious with him and clearly had a schoolgirl crush. I brought up the high-schooler in question during a fight and brazenly asked him if he liked her. He said no.
I asked, “If we weren’t dating, would you date her?” He said yes. The very next day, he was dumping me on a picnic table during his lunch break. They started going out on the same day. [Read: How to get over your first love with a happy memory]
Let’s stay friends!
My heartbreak was seemingly eternal. If the adage that getting over your partner takes half the length of your relationship *Thanks, Sex and the City!*, then I was way overdue for getting over this sucker. He strung me along post-breakup. We remained quasi-friends and even attended the same college 30-minutes out of town.
One day, I bumped into him in the halls, and he informed me our classes ended at the same time and that he would drive me home. After class I waited, and waited… and waited, until it became ridiculous. I didn’t even like this guy anymore! I was fresh into a new relationship, and yet there I was waiting around like an idiot for him. He never showed, and my friend drove me home. [Read: Can you be friends with an ex after a breakup?]
Three years later…
My ex had long since moved away, and I was into bigger and better things. He had this habit, however, of popping his head back into my life whenever he broke up with someone. I got a random e-mail one day and eagerly pored over its contents. He’d moved home *after a breakup – Aha!* and wanted to hang out.
Curious cat that I was, I saw him later that night. He informed me that he was bored at the end of our relationship, and thus scooped up that high school girl, with apparent immediate regrets. He said he’d made a mistake. I laughed and indicated it was all in the past. I left our hangout with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and closure. Then he began pursuing me. [Read: 12 solid reasons why the no contact rule always works]
Five years after that…
It’d been over 8 years since we broke up. I went to a wedding of a mutual friend, and lo and behold, my ex was there. His wedding date had bailed on him *dumped, it seemed*, and so had mine. To my great surprise, he began talking about our being together, and he spent the whole evening trying to get into my good graces.
I later heard that during the wedding, his mom and sister sat with my mom, and they told her how amazing it would be if we got back together after all these years. Um, no?
To this day, I have great memories of our history together and really have nothing to hate on about this boy – but would I have this positive outlook on things, had he not come crawling back for more of my love? Who knows! The point is, when the “one that got away” comes back with their tail between their legs, it feels amazing. [Read: 16 clear signs your ex wants you back in their life]
What to do if your ex comes back for more
So what do you do if your ex comes back for round 2? While it might sound amazing for the one that got away to come back asking for forgiveness, the reality is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. If you have no interest in dating this person again, then you may simply walk away with a smug smile and the opportunity to say all the things to them that you wish you’d said before.
But what if you do want them back? Well, relationships are complicated. People change and grow, and that person that you were once madly in love with has not only hurt you, but has also grown and changed into someone that you may not even recognize anymore – for better or worse. If your “one that got away” humiliated you or abused your trust, that’s not something that’s easy to go back to.
#1 Weigh your options. Are you looking to get back together? Weigh your pros and cons. What did this person do in the past that you absolutely wouldn’t tolerate in your new relationship? If you want to make an honest go of things, then you need to lay it all out on the table. Talk about what you expect from one another, and how to prevent your last breakup from repeating itself. [Read: How to date an ex again and get second time lucky]
#2 What will your friends and family think? What are your friends and family going to think of your decision to get back together with your ex? It might seem tempting to keep your newly rekindled relationship on the down low, until you guys figure out how serious you are about each other, or if you see another possible future.
But if you’re thinking of hiding your relationship for fear of backlash or embarrassment from your friends and family, then you may want to rethink the relationship. Oftentimes, your friends notice that the guy you’re dating is a total jerk before you do! If you want to hide your rekindled relationship from those closest to you, take a step back and ask yourself why.
#3 Remember why you broke up. You guys broke up for a reason. It’s easier to forget the bad things in a relationship when you haven’t seen that person in a long time. Could you really trust this person again? Magic moments don’t always make for a great round 2. [Read: 10 reasons your ex doesn’t deserve a second chance]
#4 Have a line ready. Alright, so we’ve all daydreamed about the perfect one-liner we WISH we’d said while we were getting dumped! Even if you think your ex returning will never happen in a million years, have mental collection ready of all those things you wish you said to your ex. For those who don’t think on their feet, may we suggest Taylor Swift’s “We are never, ever, ever getting back together. Like, ever.”
It can be hilarious to have the one that got away come back into your life. It can also be awkward, heartbreaking, or absolutely amazing. Use your best judgement to determine what your next step should be. Trust your gut instinct, and never hide your decision from your friends or family. Above all else, enjoy the ride – not everyone gets to live out the returning ex fantasy!