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Can a failed relationship work again? 6 signs it can & how to go about it

Image credit: Shutterstock - By Dmytro Zinkevych

Thinking about giving a failed relationship a shot again?

You’re in the right place.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what to consider before you try again, the crucial signs that suggest the relationship deserves a second chance and 10 ways to make sure the relationship is succesful a second-time.

Let’s get started.

Do Second-Chance Relationships Work?

Relationships take a lot of work, which comes as a surprise to many people, thanks to the rose-colored tint through which we view romance.

Building a good relationship requires a level of tenacity, and more so if you’re trying to piece back together a failed one.

Second-chance relationships can work, as long as the two people involved know how to grow and take advantage of the time they spent apart.

Unfortunately, second-chance relationships have a bad reputation, because there is a strong tendency for them to fail the second time around.

Why? These couples get back together for all the wrong reasons.

After a breakup, people get into a rut. They feel a keen sense of yearning for the partner they lost and it’s natural to feel lonely, especially after spending years with someone.

However, it’s never a good idea to date your ex again because you couldn’t tolerate the sadness of the breakup or because you couldn’t bear to be alone.

Getting back together for the wrong reasons won’t help you move forward, because the problem that led to the breakup will still be there where you left it.

If you’re thinking of trying to get a failed relationship to work again, you need to take the time and honestly reevaluate what you want.

After all, the last thing you and your ex want is to be back in a doomed relationship.

Before making a decision, consider:

1. What ended things?

If you’re seriously thinking of getting back together with your ex, it’s crucial to recognize what made you split-up in the first place.

Is it something fixable, like communication issues?

Or is it something you’re sure you can forgive?

It’s a waste of time if you can neither fix the problem nor move on from it because you’re only going to bring up old feelings of disdain for your partner.

If one or both of you are still stuck in the past, the second time won’t work; it’s best to forget about the relationship altogether.

2. The time you spent apart

When you break up, the time you spend apart helps you figure out if you’re really interested in the relationship.

For people with a healthy mindset, they tend to fill up the time with new passions or rekindle old interests, which they may not have had time for when they were in a relationship.

The time you spend growing on your own helps you see how your ex fits into your life, rather than the other way around.

Time and maturity also cast a different perspective on the relationship.

You’ll be able to see your partner from a distance.

Maybe you were together in your early 20s and breaking up was the most sensible decision at the time, but reconnecting as older, wiser adults could work.

Remember, you’re going to start from scratch if you do try to work on the relationship again, so taking time to reflect is important.

Many couples try to jump back where they left off in the past, but that never works; it’s a lot like getting back into a sinking boat where no one bothered to repair the holes.

Instead of trying to recreate the “good” without addressing the “bad”, you have to build on the initial connection and work your way towards a better future.

3. The lovin’ feeling

If you try to rekindle things with your ex, will you be able to find the same spark from before?

Would you be as in love as before, or would you realize you can live without each other and still be happy?

Second-guessing and not being 100% sure of how you feel means the relationship is fragile, ready to crack at the slightest problem.

And even if your love stays the same, your ex might have changed a lot.

It all boils down to what you truly feel, for the long-term and not just the moment.

Deep down, you would know if both of you can actually make your love work.

It’s not fair to reconnect with your ex on a whim, or just because you miss them.

You have to be aware of how much this person means to you, how significant they are in your life, and how much you want to continue sharing a life with them.

Signs You Could Give Your Ex A Second Chance

In every relationship, both partners have likely made their share of mistakes.

Many people do deserve a second chance because we’re all trying to do our best.

Forgiveness is an essential ingredient to moving forward; if you want your partner to forgive your mistakes and give you opportunities to fix what went wrong, it’s good to extend the same courtesy to them.

However, you don’t want to push that second chance into a never-ending cycle with a third, fourth, or even fifth try.

Before deciding to push through with repairing a broken relationship, you should watch out for signs that both you and your ex have a good chance of making it work.

These signs include:

1. The original problem isn’t insurmountable.

Before doing anything hasty, it’s important to examine the cause of the problem.

Deciding whether or not to offer a second chance depends on what triggered the breakup in the first place.

If you feel what your partner did wasn’t serious enough to ruin the foundation of the relationship, it’s worth taking the time to think about it.

Some offenses can ruin a relationship for good, while there are others that a couple can move past.

Cheating, for example, is a dealbreaker for many people.

However, other people would still be willing to work on the relationship if they think they can overcome the problem, forgive their partner, and be happy in the long run.

Of course, some problems cannot be fixed and there’s no turning back.

If your partner is abusive, you should get out of the relationship and keep yourself safe.

It’s also unlikely you can resolve anything if you disagree on where to live, what kind of lifestyle to pursue, or whether to have children in the future.

If you’re unable to find a reason for the breakup or unsure whether the problems are fixable, it may be good to ask a therapist for help.

2. Their actions speak louder than words.

It’s best to anchor your decision to give your ex another chance based on their actions, rather than their words.

It’s easy for someone to say exactly what you want to hear, but these words are meaningless.

Even if they promise to change, only their actions can prove how much they actually want the change.

There is no point in placing your trust in someone who can’t show you that they deserve that trust.

A failed relationship will only work a second time if you trust that the other person has changed, and you can fully believe them when they say they won’t hurt you again.

Actions are the only way to see if they actually love you and respect your needs.

3. They’re being honest.

Honesty is a crucial first step to forgiveness and getting back together.

There is a huge difference between apologizing and actually feeling sorry enough to change their ways, so you should be able to tell if your ex is authentic with their apology.

They should recognize the mistake they made, acknowledge the pain they cause, and make amends for it.

And if they’re asking for you back, they may be more honest about their hopes and expectations.

Maybe they can’t promise to change overnight, but they’re willing to try — it’s a good sign if they’re upfront about it.

It’s also a positive sign if they come back to you with their guard down.

If they’re vulnerable enough to admit any fears, insecurities, or feelings of doubt about the relationship, they may be more mature for a second shot at love.

Everything else can be negotiated through compromise, but honesty and vulnerability takes time and wisdom to cultivate.

4. They really want to be with you again.

Mutual desire to continue the relationship is essential for its longevity.

It will only work the second time if both of you are willing to give up your other options and wholly commit to the other.

You would know how much you want to be someone if you were miserable without them — not because you hated being single — but because it felt like losing your best friend, the person who brightens your day.

Aside from love, you should still have the foundation for a happy and healthy relationship: trust, loyalty, respect, and honesty.

Before considering giving them a second chance, ask yourself if you were able to maintain these qualities in the relationship before the split.

5. You share the same values.

Imagine making the relationship work for more than a few months: would both of you want the same things for the future?

Will you agree on whether to be exclusive, whether you want to get married, or whether you want to have kids to raise in a particular way?

In the long-term, you need a partner who supports your needs and core values. Love can be cultivated in a relationship, but values are a given.

Your values are central to who you are, so people can’t change them as easily as they can choose who to love. In order to change their values, they have to betray themselves, their family, friends, culture, and a lifetime of beliefs to be with you.

If you think you’re going to compromise on values, morals, and what you want, it’s better to let the relationship go for your overall health and happiness.

6. You’re both taking responsibility for what went wrong.

An “I am who I am and I am never going to change” attitude won’t get either of you anywhere.

A failed relationship will only work the second time if you fix the issues that caused the breakup in the first place.

Discuss what went wrong with your ex and figure out a way to move forward without repeating the same mistakes.

Otherwise, you’re going to re-enter the same toxic relationship that is doomed to end the same way.

There is no point in trying again with someone who doesn’t want to own up to their wrong doings.

Both of you would need to have learned your lesson to make things right. In order to make it work, you need to look honestly at yourselves, confront your fears and flaws, then make an attempt to change for the better.

7. You’re both committed to making it work.

It takes more than just hard work to break old patterns and behaviors.

To change up your dynamic, both of you have to get creative and try something different.

Maybe you need to sit down with a good couples therapist or take a break before coming back together for a fresh start.

Remember, the important thing here is to make a conscious effort on both sides.

It takes two to tango, so there’s no point in trying again with someone who is disinterested in doing the work.

10 Ways A Broken Relationship Can Be Fixed

“Can dating an ex work?”

The short answer is yes.

If you’ve both decided that you can live without each other but choose to anyway, there’s a good chance you can make it work.

However, you can’t enter a new relationship with old relationship skills; doing the same thing over and over again will always breed the same results.

Here are some ways you can mend a bad pattern and start anew:

1. Re-evaluate why you want to be together.

One theory in psychology is the ‘rubber band effect’, where one or both people in the relationship seek greener pastures, not thinking they are truly meant to be together.

Then one day, they wake up and realize what they lost, regret it, then snap back stronger than before.

For some couples, the rubber band effect is the wake-up call that makes them sure about the person they want to be with.

Maybe this theory won’t work for you, but it’s always good to go back to the beginning and develop a new perspective about your partner. Ask yourselves:

  • What drew you to each other?
  • What qualities do they have that are valuable?
  • Which values do you share?
  • What makes them amazing?

2. Fix the original problem.

Relationships fail for a number of reasons: timing, distance, emotional immaturity, individual failure, or the slow death of romance.

Once you pinpoint the issues, it’s best to address them through a conversation.

The hardest and most important step to making a second-chance relationship work is to admit you failed to do your part the first time around.

It’s not easy because people can become stubborn and defensive against blame.

However, you have to talk about it and try to find a solution from there.

Commit to working on your problems and establishing a new dynamic.

3. Forgive each other for the past.

The secret of every successful couple is a short-term memory; they don’t hold onto petty grievances and hurtful memories, because this only drags the past into the future.

To forgive your partner means to let go of any bitterness, anger, or animosity holding you back from enjoying happiness with them.

Start with a clean slate and learn how to forgive each other whenever someone slips up.

We’re all human, so a little kindness to each other and ourselves goes a long way as we grow into better people.

4. Give your partner a chance to win you back.

For some people, it takes more than a few chances for to finally get it right.

If you notice your partner is actually listening to your needs and making an effort to change, it’s worth being patient and giving them multiple chances.

This, of course, does not include cases of abuse or blatant disrespect; in fact, it’s best to get help and leave an abusive partner immediately.

Give your partner the benefit of the doubt and don’t automatically assume the worst of them. It’s a waste of energy and they will reveal it on their own eventually.

Give them a shot to succeed through an exercise of letting go, forgiving, and slowly rebuilding your trust in them.

5. Break bad communication habits.

Honest communication is the best way to fix a bond between two people, but it’s also a component where many people fail.

Some good communication habits to instill are:

Appreciate your partner: It may surprise you, but verbally expressing gratitude can go a long way.

If your partner does something wonderful, tell them and make them feel appreciated.

Listen to your partner: Never interrupt your partner or be dismissive when they’re speaking. Rather than offering a barrage of opinions, it’s best to ask them questions and pay attention to their point-of-view.

Speak your mind: Your partner is not a mind-reader. If something goes wrong, the best thing to do is to tell them. Not only will they know they made a mistake and learn how to fix it, but you’ll also be able to get it off your chest and avoid harboring resentment.

Set expectations: Set expectations and definitions clearly. For example, everyone has their own idea of what counts as cheating — so it’s important to establish these ideas clearly and get on the same page with your partner.

6. Reaffirm your connection.

People tend to become too busy and preoccupied over time, which leads them to forget about good memories with the people that matter.

When you spend more time reminiscing the emotions that fueled your happy past together, you can reset your priorities and bring yourself back to a time when you were deeply in love.

Have dinner at your favorite restaurant from before or enjoy a date in the spot where you first fell in love.

Physical spaces connected to powerful memories of strong attachment can definitely help rekindle how you feel about each other.

7. Cut out external influences.

Often, there are external voices that make their way into private relationships and plant toxicity.

Keep an eye out for the people who play a less-than-positive role in your relationship and commit to keeping their energy out.

As much as possible, keep your relationship as private as possible and avoid sharing your woes to others.

They probably don’t hold the answers to those problems anyway.

8. Set boundaries.

Everyone needs a healthy dose of personal space.

Staying together 24/7 will undoubtedly be a suffocating experience, so it’s important to respect your differences and give each other the freedom to live a fulfilling life outside the relationship.

You can guide each other by setting boundaries to get everything fair.

If your partner agrees not to stay out late on Friday nights, you should stick to the same rule too.

Be prepared to make negotiations and set comfortable boundaries for both of you. Putting everything in place will help you avoid arguments and promote a sense of security.

9. Change up your routine.

The humdrum routines of daily life can definitely put a strain on any relationship; being with your partner can seem dull and boring, especially if you do the same things everyday.

Why not introduce exciting new changes into your schedule, like doing hobbies you enjoy together every weekend?

Or relive early courtship days by sending each other love notes and planning cute dates.

If you’re inclined, you can also go on a fun backpacking trip together.

Shared experiences are the key to building trust with someone.

Both of you may feel more passionately about each other when you step out of your comfort zones together.

10. Learn to cultivate respect with each other.

Trust and respect are really the basis for a strong, healthy love, so it’s important to balance the fine line between honesty and nastiness.

Treating your partner without consideration for how their dignity and how they feel would definitely harm your connection.

It’s cruel to hear and experience certain things from someone you want to share all your vulnerabilities with, so it’s important to cultivate a strong sense of respect with each other.

Love Could Be Sweeter The Second Time Around

It’s not easy to love someone; it takes a lot of patience and work. Still, if you think this person is worth it, then go for it.

You may find your renewed connection makes life sweeter and happier than before.

 

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Written by Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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