Should You Call Your Ex To Get Back Together?

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated March 25, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Thinking about calling your ex?

Sometimes, an ex-relationship looks so good in the rearview mirror that you wish you hadn't ended it. You may find yourself thinking of your ex often. The good times you had together, the laughs and fun experiences. With rose-colored glasses, you may start to reflect on what it could have been with your ex. Even when you try to move on in a new relationship, maybe you can't help but obsess about your ex.

These feelings can be even more compounded if the new relationship comes to a close as well. If it was a good relationship, you might consider renewing it. But before you do, it is important to make sure you were safe, healthy, and happy in the relationship before, and that this desire ("Should I call my ex?") and rekindling an old flame won't burn you.

Calling your ex: Taking a real look at the past

Deciding whether to call your ex-partner or even get back together with this person can mean starting with a clear and honest understanding of your previous relationship. This can help you to answer questions about why the relationship ended in the first place and whether or not it should be rekindled.

Try to think back to the time before the breakup but after the honeymoon period. Was your ex ever physically, verbally, or mentally abusive? Did you fight more than you laughed? Did they cheat or disappoint you or call you names? Cross boundaries or make you cry all the time?

Surprisingly, many people forget about physical abuse after time goes by. But there is a scientific explanation. The recalling of good memories but not recalling bad incidents is our brain's way of helping us process trauma and things that hurt us.

By blocking out these painful memories with an ex, we can continue with life without being burdened by bitterness. However, this coping mechanism can backfire. So, while revisiting your past with your ex, make a list of any of the unhealthy or abusive aspects.

If your relationship was abusive or toxic in any way, then you probably don't want to call your ex. In fact, a no-call tactic is likely the best option. The "no-call" practice is one of the only ways to successfully heal from a relationship that was toxic and traumatizing.

Is codependency a factor?

Besides distorted thinking, another thing that often leads people back to their ex-lovers is codependency. Codependency is excessive emotional or psychological reliance on an ex-partner, typically one who requires support on account of illness or addiction. This condition makes for stressful and turbulent relationships.

Once a relationship has been codependent, it can be very hard to recover your independence. Yet, it can seem comfortable and effortless to slip back into the familiar pattern you established in the relationship. It's tempting to relax into that pattern instead of facing the pain and making an effort to solve your own problems. The healthiest relationships tend to be between two independent people who try to collaborate rather than to be constantly reliant on each other.


Other factors to consider

In reflecting back on your relationship with your ex, you might also consider whether there was compatibility in your values, goals, and hopes for the future. For example, maybe one ex-partner envisioned having children one day and the other did not. It can be easy to forget about these kinds of differences, especially if you still care for the other person; however, it is important to make sure there is alignment in what each individual wants from a partnership.

Also, you might reflect and call on memories to see whether your ex-partner was receptive to meeting your needs. Were you able to have open discussions around what allows each of you to feel loved and safe within the relationship? Was your ex-partner willing to put in the effort required to meet your needs? According to relationship expert John Gottman, each person having their core needs met is essential for a partnership to thrive. If your ex-partner was not attuned to your needs, or willing to make changes to better fulfill your needs, this could signal that returning to the relationship may not prove fulfilling in the long run.

Talk to a neutral family member or friend and ask them to give you a summary of your relationship from their point of view. Then sit down and do your own review. Write out a condensed version of your relationship from start to finish as if you were writing it for someone who doesn't know you to read. By doing so, you'll see the bigger picture and can decide if moving forward with the phone call is even worth it.

So, will you call your ex?

Calling your ex means taking a big chance. Something about the way the two of you interacted didn't work in the past, so it might not work now. Perhaps things seemed good between the two of you until something unexpected or traumatic happened to one or both of you. Maybe you realize now that you left for a petty reason. If the relationship meets all the above qualifications, listen to what your intuition is telling you. Do you have a nagging feeling that something isn't quite right about it?

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Thinking about calling your ex?

An online therapist can help you talk it through

Seeking the support of a licensed therapist may be beneficial to help you process past events as well as consider possibilities for the future. They can help you to clarify what you ultimately desire from a relationship and navigate the emotions that accompany the thought, "Should I call my ex?". Through BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. Consider taking this step today to talk with someone who can provide helpful insight and support in making this important decision. 

You may worry about whether or not online therapy can work as well as traditional methods. Recent research suggests that not only is online therapy just as effective as in-person meetings, but it is also ultimately more reachable to those who may not otherwise have treatment options available at all, and can be more affordable for those who have financial concerns keeping them from seeking help. 

Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from people experiencing similar issues.

Therapist reviews

“When I signed up for BetterHelp I was in the midst of a major life crisis. I was seeking a compassionate, experienced counselor like Jillian to help me cope with the initial pain, anger, and anxiety. Also, I chose Jillian because in her self-description she states, "I'm a big believer in seeing life challenges, especially the most painful ones, as a catalyst for self-discovery, personal growth, and positive change." This really resonated with me. I knew that I wanted my experience to be an opportunity for personal growth. I am incredibly grateful that Jillian indeed helped me grieve and work through the challenges of divorce and early motherhood. She helped me learn about myself and transform my life in a positive way. She offered practical, specific tools to incorporate into my daily routine. She helped me to reconnect with myself and clarify and move towards my life goals. She offered constructive advice for interacting with my ex-husband and maintaining boundaries. Through working with her I was able to care for myself so that I could be a mindful, present mama and really soak in the precious moments with my newborn daughter. My sessions with Jillian made a huge difference as I navigated this time in my life. I could not recommend her more highly.” Learn More About Jill Hopkins

“It was a pleasure to match with Rebecca. She listened to me and understood what I was going through. She was great when it came to messaging her. I would pour my heart out or just about anything I was thinking about or feeling and she would respond in a timely matter. She made me realize my worth and gave me great advice. With that advice, it helped me with the grieving process of a breakup. It's nice to know someone cares about my mental health, without putting all the blame on myself. She made me realize it's not always "you're" fault and that it is okay to feel sad or whatever emotions you're having. I don't know in what mental state I would be in without her. Today, I feel much better than I did during my first session with her. I'm glad I signed up for counseling and cannot recommend it enough to those who can get to it. Overall, Rebecca was wonderful to work with!” Learn More About Rebecca Mayer


Before making the call to your ex, you can ask yourself helpful questions such as, “What are my intentions with this call? What outcome am I hoping for? Is there a possibility for our relationship to be different than the last time? Was our relationship truly healthy?” Answering these questions can help you figure out if you actually want to make that call or you really want to move on and find a safer, healthier relationship with yourself and potential future partners. A relationship therapist can help you determine the healthiest way to move forward.
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