After all the pain and the hurt, when you’re staring at your ex’s contact number on your phone at 2 A.M., you realize that starting over a relationship may not be the worst idea in the world. And when you come to the conclusion that you can’t live without this person, you’re probably hitting the call button right away.
Let’s not beat around the bush, starting over a relationship after a betrayal takes a lot of work. The recurring fights will probably get the better of you two, and just because you’ve decided to give it another go doesn’t mean it’s magically going to work out.
What does it mean to start over in a relationship? To help you navigate the murky waters of reinstating what once was, we’ve brought along psychologist Shazia Saleem (Masters in Psychology), who specializes in separation and divorce counseling, to tell us exactly what it takes to restart the flame you thought you lost.
Is It Okay To Restart A Relationship?
Though you may be yearning for the love that you once shared with this person, it doesn’t always mean it’s okay to completely forget about the past and make the same mistakes all over again. For starters, if yours was a toxic relationship that threatened your mental or physical health, attempting to rekindle it is not advisable.
Similarly, if what you yearn for is the safety and the comfort of “being in love” and not the person you were in love with, perhaps you’re just feeling lonely. If you’re looking to start over a relationship with your ex and you haven’t spoken to them in a few years, it’s also important to acknowledge that the person you knew them to be may not even exist.
Perhaps you will never be able to see eye to eye on some of the differences that led to the initial breakup. Simply put, if your rose-tinted glasses are very effectively making you ignore something you know will be a problem, you’re infatuated, not in love.
What does it mean to start over in a relationship? You’ve got to make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Leave your expectations at the door, and don’t assume that the person will be exactly what they used to be; perhaps they’ve changed in ways you can’t even imagine.
So, before you even try to figure out how to start a clean state in a relationship, the first thing you need to ask yourself is if it’s worth it. Do you see room for reconciliation? Or are you letting your infatuation get the better of you?
At the end of the day, you probably already know if this is a good or bad idea, but you may be apprehensive about admitting it. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but a healthy dose of accepting the truth will set you free.
Related Reading: 5 Things That Make A Relationship Work | The Basic Essentials
How Do I Start Over A Broken Relationship?
“If two people feel that they need to get back together, it needs to be a mutual and practical decision. Both individuals must acknowledge the fact that it isn’t unidirectional, and they must both equally want it.
“When you’re starting over in a relationship with the same person, you must do away with any negative feelings toward each other. Treat it as what it is: a fresh start,” says Shazia. Here are some tips on how to start all over again in a relationship.
- Assess if it’s truly worth your time and energy
- If the effort is one-sided, stick to staying friends
- Address past problems like infidelity/jealousy/trust issues
- Confide in your friends to support you through the patch up
- Rekindle your romance by making exciting plans
- Focus on building a friendship with your partner
- Be willing to compromise and meeting them in the middle
- Honestly state their bad habits and offer solutions
- Be a patient listener and offer unlimited cuddles/hugs
- Talk about shared long-term goals (like a live-in relationship)
When starting over in a relationship, some support from a therapist will ensure a clear path for reconciliation has been set out for you. An unbiased professional will help you figure out what went wrong and how to address it. Yes, there may be some “when you say that, it makes me feel like this” involved. If it’s help you’re looking for, Bonobology’s panel of experienced therapists is only a click away.
How To Start A Relationship Over – 9 Helpful Tips
When you’re starting over with your spouse or partner, you may want to immediately get back to the days of old, where you spent entire afternoons just talking to each other. If you can’t seem to get through a few conversations without arguing, the following tips for starting over a relationship laid out by Shazia will help you:
1. Developing mutual respect is a necessity
Sure, you may think you respect each other when things are going well, but a certain level of disrespect must have crept up during those nasty fights. The elements of developing respect in a relationship run deeper than how you talk to each other, it’s also how you think about each other.
“Accept each other as you are, without wanting to change the other person. Respect their individuality, qualities, traits, habits. Developing mutual respect is perhaps the most important when you’re trying to start over in a broken relationship,” says Shazia.
2. Figure out what caused the problems in the first place
It’s time to put your detective hats on and get to the bottom of who pulled the trigger on the relationship and why. You won’t know what you need to fix this time unless you figure out why you two kept fighting and having problems.
If you’re trying to figure out how to start all over again in a relationship when you live together, the best thing to do is to diagnose the problem. If you’re treating a broken leg by bandaging your arm, you’re just going to make things worse.
Related Reading: Top 13 Reasons To Stay In A Relationship
3. When starting over a relationship, let bygones be bygones
Once you get to the bottom of why there was trouble in paradise, you can start forgiving it as well. Sure, forgiving a cheating spouse or a partner who has hurt you isn’t the easiest thing in the world. The person who was hurt might even bring it up again from time to time, but understanding that it isn’t doing anyone any favors is what’s important.
“Bury the past. Forget about it, let it go. The more you dwell on the past, the more you’ll be spending precious time discussing things you shouldn’t. Focus on the moment, and deal with the issues that are coming up right now,” says Shazia.
No, you shouldn’t bottle up your emotions either. If something is bothering you, you probably need to think about why that is. Ask yourselves why past arguments and mistakes are brought up in your “new” relationship. Does it signal an ongoing lack of trust? If so, you now know what you must work on in your new relationship with the same person.
4. A little breathing space will do you both a lot of good
“Especially if you’re trying to start over in a broken relationship, you need to be level-headed. You’re embarking on a new journey altogether, so it’s better to give each other some time and space. Whether you’re trying to get adjusted to the new scenario of things or just need some time off from it, personal space can help,” says Shazia.
Spending some time away is almost a prerequisite if you’re figuring out how to start over in a relationship when you live together. Step out of the firing range for a bit, and spend a relaxing week or two by yourself. Once you’re in a better state of mind, you’re not going to snap at your partner for leaving that wet towel on the bed.
5. While starting over a relationship, kindness is your currency
If you’ve said a few things to each other that you wish you didn’t, there’s always room to make amends. A few small displays of niceties may not mean much at the moment, but the more they add up, the happier you’re going to feel in each other’s company.
It doesn’t all revolve around how you can be with your partner, however. Shazia explains how being kind to yourself may just be the most important thing you can do while trying to start over in a broken relationship.
“Be kind and compassionate toward yourself, each other, and the relationship. A person who is not happy and content with themselves can never give happiness to others or any relationship. Unless you take care of yourself, you won’t be in a state to be kind to those around you.”
6. Adjust the power dynamics
Whether we know it or not, we often fit into particular roles in our relationships. One may act like the victim, and the other may take on the role of the prosecutor. Especially in dynamics where a person always feels invalidated and belittled, there may be very damaging power dynamics at play.
Theories like the relationship triangle may help you figure out who is inadvertently playing the role of what in your dynamic. If yours doesn’t feel like a union of equals, starting over a relationship becomes invariably more difficult.
Perhaps the best way to address such a shift would be to communicate effectively and honestly with your partner. A therapist will be able to help you realize if there’s a lack of respect that triggers such power shifts, and what you can do about it.
7. Establish new boundaries
“From the minute you decide to start things up again, make sure you create healthy boundaries around yourself and the relationship. Boundaries are vital to make sure you have a fulfilling relationship in the long run,” says Shazia.
Boundaries can be as simple as respecting each other’s personal space and help you achieve and sustain your individuality. Especially if you’re starting a relationship over as friends, establishing clear boundaries from the get-go will make sure you’re both on the same page.
Related Reading: How Can I Overcome Feeling Insecure In Relationships?
8. Empathy will be the difference
If you’re starting over with your ex and have been hurt in the past, you’re probably not thinking about what your ex has gone through as well. But once you try to put yourself in their shoes for a while, a whole new perspective may present itself to you.
“Understand each other’s perspectives, and the only way to do that is by being empathetic in your relationship. Understand your partner’s situation, respect their opinions, keep the communication open and clear,” says Shazia.
9. Jump in with both feet
“If even after letting go, you’re now starting over in a relationship with the same person, it’s a sign that you strongly believe there’s something worth working on in this relationship. It’s a sign that you’re meant to be together.
“Make sure you prioritize it. Instead of having high expectations from your partner, think about your part and your role in it. Think about the best you can give, not what you can get,” says Shazia.
Let your actions reflect that you’re committed to making an effort in your relationship. The more your partner can see that you’re committed to making this relationship work through the effort you put in, the more secure they’re going to feel too.
- Tips on how to start a clean slate in a relationship include establishing boundaries and putting yourself in your partner’s shoes
- Prioritize your partner and make honest and consistent effort to fix old patterns
- Forgive your partner for past mistakes but express your needs clearly to them when starting over a relationship
- A new relationship with the same person essentially requires you to take some space and be kind to your partner
Whether you’re starting over with your spouse or have decided to just be friends with someone, the tips we listed out for you today definitely will help. Give it your best shot and work on new patterns and memories. If still doesn’t work out, don’t worry. At least you tried and that’s what matters.