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Stages of Getting Back Together with an Ex

by Lisa K. Stephenson


I dated my ex-boyfriend so you don’t have to date yours. By now many of you have read my book Covenant – if not, it’s a great read. In it, I recalled the events which all took place after I learned from Facebook that my ex had cheated and was expecting a baby with his co-worker, who, at the time, was nine months along. Ah, the memories. Anyhow, afterward, things went up in flames as one could only imagine.

Well, that was in 2015. Since then my ex and I have managed to keep in touch—three changed phone numbers and some other criminal acts later, here we are yet again in 2022 trying to, oh, I don’t know, be…friends and perhaps date. Weird, I know. But I’m single, he’s “single” (because once a cheater and liar can you ever really be sure if they’re telling the truth?) This brings me to some of the tips I plan to share here today with you all. Taking things slowly with an ex-boyfriend requires many things: learning to trust again, communication, emotional maturity, transparency, and love.

HOW TO TRUST AGAIN AFTER BEING CHEATED ON: this is probably the hardest thing to do and unless you have a remorseful partner it can feel almost impossible. Actually, it is impossible. You see, exes come back for several reasons: sex, guilt, remorse, boredom, to cheat with you instead of on you this time…and so, of all the aforementioned, which would you prefer? Sure, remorse. What is remorse? Remorse is a deep regret for a wrong committed. In my case, my ex can never have remorse because from his actions he made two, yes, two children with this woman, both of whom he loves dearly. So immediately we know there can only be four other reasons for his return. You and your ex ended things for a reason. You have to take a look at why the breakup happened in the first place and what his or her motive could be for wanting to return to you, date you, and potentially start a new relationship with you.

If it is sex, here are some signs to look out for:

  • He tries way too soon for sex

  • He does not invite you on a date – this can be something as simple as a movie or something straight out of a rom-com

  • Conversations are surface level, meaning he shows no real interest in your life or sharing his life with you. (i.e., asking you to meet his friends)

  • He does not mention the thought of a new relationship

  • You don’t feel he cares

If he’s just bored:

  • You do most if not all of the initiating. Sure, he responds, but you my dear are no longer the chase

  • He does not ask about your day

  • He does not plan a date

He’s in a relationship and wants to cheat with you:

  • Love bombing happens almost immediately

  • He calls only during work hours but never after he’s off and you can’t call him after a certain time

  • He does not initiate dates but will happily come by your place, you can never go to his

  • He leaves after sex

Signs he’s just keeping you around out of guilt:

  • He hasn’t changed the behavior or the reason you both broke up in the first place

  • He values his ego over your feelings

  • His apologies lack accountability and in-depth acknowledgment of what went wrong (I’m sorry vs I am sorry for ____________ and I see how much my actions have hurt you; I don’t ever intend on putting you through that again)

  • He may be a sociopath or narcissist

WHAT TO SAY TO AN EX: This may be hard to process but sometimes that person who used to be the first person you called when something good happened is now a person you look at with emptiness, confusion, and anxiety. Dating an ex can be overwhelming because in some cases you could be looking to start a new relationship and want to make a good impression so that he/she will like this new you. But what we fail to realize sometimes is that people do outgrow one another. Perhaps you no longer have anything in common or you both have a different method of communicating.

For example, my ex gave me a bunch of trauma and so my communication style with him is anxious. His is avoidant. Immediately you can spot the problem. I need constant reassurance and he would rather swim with sharks than have certain discussions with me. You have to ask yourself, is this kind of stress and unhappiness worth it? It isn’t.

EMOTIONAL MATURITY: This is a big one, so big in fact, I’m going to write a separate article on it. What does it mean to be emotionally mature? Emotional maturity means being honest about your feelings, your intentions, and having self-love. Being honest with an ex means telling them straight away what your intentions are so there is no confusion among you. If one person thinks you’re getting back together and the other does not want that, then someone is being dishonest and that is immature and hurtful. Put your cards on the table, let your ex know that you are only looking for a new relationship, and if he/she cannot give you that then neither of you should waste your time. Unless you’re both OKAY with just being friends. A person who loves themselves will not by any means subject themselves to anything that is considered to be a waste of time. Time is one of the most precious things we have and no one wants to waste it. If your ex is looking to waste your time, it is because 9/10 they do not value theirs and a person who does not love themselves cannot properly love someone else.

TRANSPARENCY AND LOVE: “I love you” and “I am still in love with you” are some of the most beloved words you would ever want to hear. But along with those words come actions. Love is a verb I always say. Show me better than you can tell me and I am sold. When you love someone you will want to be open with them because you understand the value of their trust and their love as a whole. People who refuse to be transparent are usually people who have secrets and as Tamar Braxton said, “Secrets equals shenanigans.” And again, who has time for that? If your ex is an open book and adores answering your questions—as they are smart enough to know that anyone asking questions is a person who is invested and therefore interested. If the interest is mutual, questions will be a dream come true for your ex-bae.

What’s the takeaway? Don’t settle.


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