Rumours that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck have been spending time together following JLo’s split from Alex Rodriguez have sent social media into overdrive, with fans thrilled that the iconic Noughties couple might have rekindled their romance 17 years after the end of their relationship.
While it’s fun to speculate about the love lives of celebrities, when you think about it, people aren’t usually so ecstatic when they hear that a non-famous couple are giving it another go.
Statements like ‘It’ll never work’ and ‘They just don’t want to be alone’ are often bandied about by sceptical friends and family. But is it always a bad idea when exes get back together?
“It does vary,” says psychotherapist Neil Wilkie, founder of online couples therapy platform The Relationship Paradigm. “It depends, first of all, why they got together in the first place. Was it a great relationship to start with?”
Even more crucial is to consider why a couple broke up, he says: “Getting back together just because it’s the best you can do is a really bad mistake, [as is] getting back together because you’re hoping that magically, things will have changed.”
Wilkie says there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself if you’re thinking of reuniting with an ex-partner.
“How did the relationship end? Was it their decision or was it mutual? If it was your decision, was it a mistake? And if it was their decision, have they changed their mind?
“Imagine you’d never met before. If you met as strangers today, would you be attracted to them? Would you want to start a relationship with them? If the answer to all of those is no, then nothing’s changed. Going back would be more than disappointing.”
Alternatively, you could write a pros and cons list, focusing on the values that you and your ex-partner share.
“Prioritise what’s really important to you – get in touch with your own values, what’s fundamentally driving you in life,” Wilkie says. “If you’re aligned [with your ex] on those values that’s really, really good. If there’s a mismatch on those values, then it’s going to continue to be a problem.”
Finally, it’s important not to rush into anything, no matter how excited you might be about the prospect of finding your happily ever after with ‘the one that got away’.
Wilkie says: “Unless you think things through, you’re not just going to hurt them, you’re going to hurt yourself. Because you’re limiting yourself, potentially, to a relationship which is not as good as you could have with somebody else.”