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Once upon a time, you had a romantic relationship with someone, and then it ended for some reason or another.
Maybe it was because of distance, or you just weren’t ready for each other at the time.
Whatever the reason, it ended… but that doesn’t mean you didn’t have a really strong connection together.
In fact, you two might have thought about one another for ages afterward. You may have kept in touch, whether as friends or just occasionally checking in with one another.
Or, you might have lost contact entirely, only to bump into each other again at a random event.
And then that old coal that had been smoldering in a dark corner started to flicker again.
So, now it’s a matter of trying to decide what to do about that spark. Should you try to coax it back into a roaring blaze? If you’re both into the idea, then it’s worth a try, right?
That said, whether you’ll be able to rekindle an old flame depends a great deal on one very simple question:
Why Didn’t It Work Out The First Time?
There are millions of reasons why relationships fail, and your breakup story will likely have a huge influence over whether or not you’ll be able to stoke this fire back into a solid burn again.
For example, if things ended because of circumstances beyond your control, rather than because you had a horrible fight or experienced a trauma together, your chances are a lot better.
I’ll share a personal experience of this kind of scenario. When I was 16 years old, I was involved with a guy who was a couple of years older than I was. Like so many other 18-year-olds, he went away to college so he could immerse in the program he really wanted (and have some much-needed freedom away from home and family!).
We recognized that we wouldn’t be able to do the long-distance thing, so we broke up. This was because of distance and circumstance, not because we didn’t get along.
We were both teenagers, so we didn’t exactly expect to spend our lives together, but all breakups hurt.
It was a sad parting, but one that we recognized was necessary at the time.
Fast forward a couple of decades and we got back in touch after someone we both knew passed on.
We remembered the friendship and bond that we’d had then, and wanted to reconnect. Quite simply, nobody knows how much time we have left here, and it’s good to nurture great connections with good people.
Despite not having seen each other for 20 years, there was still a little simmering spark in the background.
We’re great friends now, as we’re both in happy, committed relationships… but if we weren’t? It’s quite possible that we might have given things another chance.
Is It Really A Good Idea To Try To Rekindle This Flame?
In contrast to my own experience, a friend of mine ran into a former lover at an art show last year. The sparks were as sparkly as ever, but despite the fiery attraction, they both knew they could (should?) never get involved again.
Why not? After all, they had incredible chemistry, had an incredible amount of fun together, and had some spectacular travel adventures.
Well, despite the chemistry and adventuring, their relationship had been volatile the entire way through. It had ended with a massive screaming match in the middle of the street, and the aftermath was a veritable emotional/psychological dumpster fire.
Depending on what your own pairing was like, it’s a good idea to be really honest about whether reuniting with this past love is a good idea for everyone involved.
What Barriers Are You Facing This Time Around?
If you two split up quite a while ago, your lives may have changed significantly since you were last together.
A lot can happen in a relatively short period of time, and you two might be significantly different from how you remember one another.
In addition to personal changes, life circumstances may be significantly different as well.
For example, you (and/or your potential rekindled flame) might have children now. That will be a seriously different dynamic to the one you had before, especially since those kids’ other parents will still be in the picture.
Unless someone is widowed, there will inevitably be an ex partner to contend with, as well as their extended family, depending on relationship dynamics.
If your flame and their ex are on good terms, that’s great. If not, that has the potential to throw a wrench in your rekindling. Especially if they split up fairly recently.
Other potential issues to contend with may include new health challenges, aging parents who have moved in with either of you, or incompatible work schedules.
Be honest about whether you’re willing and able to negotiate these circumstances before taking the leap to try and rekindle.
Be Honest: Are You Trying Again For The Sake Of Security?
Just about all of us know a couple that has broken up and gotten back together half a dozen times (or more). Despite not being compatible on several levels, these folks just keep finding their way back to one another.
Things may be great for a while, but then the old issues resurface and the fights start anew, and the next thing you know, they’re broken up yet again.
Why does this happen? Don’t they learn their lesson?
Or are they just so passionately drawn to one another that they keep gravitating toward one another despite the obvious friction?
In most cases, this is a “devil you know” situation.
Quite simply, many people try to rekindle past relationships because they’re familiar, and familiarity is safe.
Even if things went to crap the first time around, a situation (or person) that you know is likely far less intimidating than something new.
This is one of the main reasons why people stay in unhealthy relationships far longer than they should. They may have a bunch of coping mechanisms for dealing with these less-than-stellar circumstances, and where they are might seem a lot more comfortable, and safer, than the great big uncertainty looming out their front door.
So, you need to ask yourself honestly if this is something you’re doing. Are you turning back toward the familiar because it feels safer to you than risking a new situation?
How To Make It Work This Time Around
If you’ve gone through all the pros and cons of rekindling that smoldering little coal you’ve got going, then you have some work to do.
First and foremost, the most important thing to do is have an open conversation with your potential rekindled flame. As with all relationships, communication is key, and you both need to be open and honest about how you feel about all of this.
As part of trying to navigate this reconnection, it’s important to find a middle ground between retreading old paths, and rediscovering one another.
After all, you won’t go through the usual motions of getting to know a new person, since you already know each other.
That said, you may have undergone some great changes during your time apart. As such, there will be aspects to one another that will most certainly be new and exciting to discover.
Turn this into a fun pursuit, if you can. Games and activities that allow you to get to know one another better are ideal for this, as they may prompt you with questions that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of yourselves.
Books like “All About Us” can also be fun, and will allow you to get a better understanding of each other.
Depending on how much time has passed since your last go, your interests and personal pursuits may have changed exponentially. This is a great way for you to go out and do new things together, rather than relying on the stuff you used to do.
After all, if the last time you dated was decades ago, you might be more inclined to share a museum or art gallery membership than go hurling around a mosh pit until 3 a.m.
Or maybe that’s something you both still really like. And that’s absolutely cool too.
Be Honest, And Keep Checking In
Communication and honesty really can’t be stressed enough here. Rekindling an old relationship can be just as challenging as a new one, if not moreso.
Although you might think that re-treading familiar ground is easier, remember that none of us are the same people we were a few years ago, let alone decades ago.
Experience changes us – sometimes exponentially.
Because of this, we may get frustrated if a person we dated ages ago expects us to be the same as we were when they knew us.
Rather than this being a comfortable situation, we may find ourselves constantly being compared to the younger version of ourselves that they used to know.
At best, this might entail them commenting on how much you may have grown as a person, how much more grounded you are, or how much more comfortable you are in your authentic skin.
At worst, they might constantly ask you why you aren’t as wild and spontaneous as you used to be. Why you don’t share the same interests anymore.
Comments like “you didn’t used to _____” can become very draining after a while, and you may feel resentment about their expectations of you.
Or vice versa.
You might expect them to behave a certain way because that’s how they used to be, and feel a great deal of disappointment that you’re dating a different version of the person you thought you knew.
The best way to negotiate all of this is to try to get to know and appreciate each other as you are now.
Not as you used to be.
Talk, spend time together, be open and honest.
If this spark is meant to be rekindled, you’ll find the right way to fan the flames.
Still not sure how to go about rekindling the relationship with an old flame? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out. Simply click here to chat.
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