Take a second chance?

Many of us will have faced a relationship that has broken up; indeed, a large part of the music industry’s output relies on this aspect of the human condition. It may have been a marriage break-up or a relationship that came to an natural end; it may have been something more traumatic like infidelity. What do you do if you find yourselves back together - should you try to give the relationship a second chance?

If the relationship has just broken up there can be a sense of longing and a belief that, when you go back, you will know about the other's faults and that everything will be okay this time. Yet if you were the partner who was hurt it can be difficult to believe that you won’t be hurt again. A good place to start your decision making process is to ask yourself - why did the relationship fail the last time. If you go back without considering this there is a very real danger that you will both fall into old and unhelpful habits and the whole story will replay itself.

It will be good to talk to your ex about your doubts and look at what needs to be different this time. It helps to be specific and set boundaries rather than to accept rash promises; “I’ll stop going for a beer after work”; “I’ll speak to my mother”. If you find that you can’t get the commitments that you need or that your values and needs just don’t match up, then no amount of trying is going to make a difference. Both of you need to make changes to avoid the problems that you had before.

Of course, as well as looking at what didn’t work it is worthwhile looking at what did work. Why was the relationship good? What did it add to your lives both individually and as a couple? This will help you to understand what you have from the relationship. Of course, if we long for our partner back there can be an element of looking at the relationship through rose-tinted glasses, so try to be as honest as you can and acknowledge what you can get from the relationship.

One of the key questions you will have to face is: can I forgive my partner? This may be "can I forgive them infidelity?" or it may be "can I forgive them for what they said when we broke up?". Any emotional problems like that can be a time bomb in a relationship. Can you be honest and discuss it? Talk about how you felt and what you expect in the future; if you cannot agree or feel that this will be an obstacle it will probably not work. Similarly if you are being asked to make a change that you feel you cannot sustain, be honest lest it derail the relationship down the line.

Sometimes a second try at a relationship really works; in some senses your timing may have been off the first time, or the breakup made you realise important things about each other. Some people find that talking through the problems, while less spontaneous, does deliver results. In giving it a second go, be honest with yourself and your partner and only take it forward if you feel you have addressed the problems of the past.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Glasgow, G46

Written by Graeme Orr

Glasgow, G46

I am an Accredited Member of BACP offering counselling for both individuals and couples on the Southside of Glasgow. You may be struggling to cope with difficult thoughts or feelings. It can feel a very lonely place, with nowhere to turn. Problems happen to us all and at any time in our lives. If y...

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