Sex + Dating

The Art of Getting Back Together With Your Ex

boyfriend and girlfriend holding hands
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Returning to the arms of an ex is strongly advised against -- by experts, drinking buddies, random people on the street, all your friends, and everyone in your family... even your Aunt Nedda, because she just cares about you, that’s all. But doing so isn't really that complicated. Getting back with an ex just requires a set of stipulations and one carefully executed strategy.

Unofficially, I'm an expert at getting back together with former flames -- and usually at their behest. So whether it sounds pathetic or romantic, I’m into second chances. And third, and fourth... I know, I know. A woman who goes back to her exes?! Sounds ridiculous.

The truth is, it’s absolutely painful to watch someone walk out of your life. And I've got a penchant for overlooking painfully obvious flaws when I’m balls-to-the-wall in love. My current boyfriend cheated on me, I on him, said he wasn’t in love with me, then recanted, and now I’ve stopped counting the number of times we’ve broken up and gotten back together. So yes, in a way, I’m an expert at this game. Of course, he's not the first to play breakup-get-back-together tag with me; so I have devised a system of getting what I want from a revived relationship. It’s not a perfect science, but I’d bet it's about 90% effective. Those are excellent dating odds! You just have to tread lightly.

So if you’re on the cusp of a breakup or in the midst of one, and simply can't bear the thought of being apart, follow steps to get on the road to making things work.

man and woman breaking up
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Step 1: Let it happen

That’s right, let the breakup happen. Though you’ll try and prevent it, deep down you either knew it was coming or something was telling you it has to be this way. You’re effectively setting yourself up to get some space, clear your head, and gain perspective. Relish the opportunity to miss them, and for them to realize the breakup was a terrible idea.

Expert tip: If you discover the breakup was actually a great idea, it's totally unnecessary to move on to Step 2.

woman checking her phone
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Step 2: Wait a week and then casually text them (DO NOT call)

A week sounds like an arbitrary amount of time -- but it gives you both time to calm down, especially if the breakup was heated. While I've found this amount of time is optimal, relationship expert Lauren Brim said the amount of time depends on the situation. “There is no set amount of time that needs to pass before you can consider getting back with an ex," she says. "Everyone is on their own journey of understanding; and if you still want to get back with an ex, contact them and see what evolves in the communication. The only breakup that is unamendable is one where either party is unwilling to communicate."

man in bed on phone
Stefano Cavoretto/Shutterstock

Step 3: Get down... to talking dirty

Remember when the two of you used to bang like animals, and how she knows how to touch you just right? That familiarity and your hornyness is going to reopen the door to your relationship. This is your magic key. Sure, you’ve been told time and time again how sex is not the only thing in a relationship and that you should connect on other more intelligent levels. All true! But c'mon... sex is so damn important and it goes against your baser instinct to think otherwise. Sex is one of the most important things in a relationship. It’s the physical expression of what so many of us cannot say, and also how we show our love and attraction. When we find someone with whom we explode in bed, it’s hard -- and maybe unnecessary -- to let that unicorn go.

So once you regain your rapport with each other, start (non-obsessively) dirty texting, phone-calling and FaceTiming. It’s time to tease a little; bring that sexual tension up. Don’t worry, this is all part of the plan. Let the dirty texting and talking linger for about a week (a text every other day is recommended) before you suggest grabbing dinner and going out.

But definitely wait another week or two before caving in to that.

couple on a coffee date
Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

Step 4: Suggest (don't insist) upon a meet-up

After waiting that extra week or two (try and push it more toward two so you’re at the three-week mark since you’ve broken up), you can now suggest or ask for a rendezvous. Specifically, this is when you pull out the gentleman or gentlewoman card and take each other out for a casual dinner or coffee date to "talk." This is not about deceiving the other person! You’re simply trying to present yourself in the best light possible so that your ex knows what he or she has been missing. Your exemplary behavior (while still remaining in character) is adding to your case for getting back together.

couple watching a movie on the couch with popcorn
Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

Step 5: Take them home

Here’s where things can get a little sticky. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT force the sex thing. If it naturally happens, great. Again, you’re trying to present yourself in the best possible light while preventing this from turning into an f-buddy scenario. The whole sex thing is meant to reignite your passion for each other and reconnect as a couple. I must warn you (if you don’t already know): sex with an ex can really blind you.

“I don't think of sex with an ex as a way to get back with someone," expert Brim tells us, "but I do consider it a continuation of the evolution of the relationship. Getting back together should only take place after there has been careful consideration of what is different going forward that will make the relationship work for both of you this time around."

In other words, the sex-with-an-ex thing is frowned upon because it can keep you attached to a person who’s clearly not right for you. That said, you can totally ignore this if your gut is telling you to go for it. Especially when you know that you still love them. You’re just showing them, reinforcing the feeling. That’s all.

man and woman holding hands
Matthew Nigel/Shutterstock

Step 6: Get back together (cautiously)

Can this all end badly? It sure can, but in the most corny and romantic way possible, it’s better to have tried and failed than to be left wondering for never having tried at all. Who knows where your rekindled relationship can lead? Dating and relationship coach Ravid Yosef reminds us that once you both seriously consider getting back together, there should be some real terms negotiated. Remember, you both had issues -- which is exactly why you broke up in the first place.

"There needs to be a plan in place for how you will deal with the issues that you have," Yosef says. "You need measurable goals as a couple on the things you’re working on so that the results are measureable. If you don’t set measureable goals for how to improve, you’ll never know if things are progressing and you’ll go back to feeling stuck or hurt or frustrated with the relationship."

You got that? If you’re going back for more, accept your partner for who they are. Don’t try to change them -- if that’s your intention, you shouldn’t even consider getting back together in the first place.

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Taryn Brooke is a freelance writer at Thrillist who always gives fantastic advice that she can’t take. Follow her dating and comedic adventures throughout NYC (catch her in an improv show at UCB) and beyond on Instagram and Twitter: @tazbrooke.