2 women sitting on white couch

Trying a relationship for the third time? Here’s the only way it’ll work.

I started dating my now husband in university. We were madly in love, but we were also young and inexperienced.

The first time we broke up, it didn’t take long for us to make up. We both knew it had been a mistake, and that we would be happier together.

The second time we broke up it was a completely different story. I couldn’t help but think that maybe we kept breaking up because we just weren’t right for each other.

I felt we were getting into unhealthy relationship patterns. Was it really worth it to try another time?

It’s more common for people to try a relationship for the third time then you’d think

Approximately 50% of couples have broken up with each other at least once. That’s because relationships are hard.

Sometimes we feel so frustrated that we act out of anger. We start to doubt ourselves and our future. And we act rashly.

But remember, it is absolutely possible for a relationship to survive 2 breakups.

My husband and I are living proof of that

While deciding whether to give our relationship another chance, I decided to speak to a therapist to determine what she had to say about it.

I expected her to tell me that we should remain broken up – after all, that’s what all my friends told me when they found out we were trying our relationship for the third time.

Therapist telling me what to do when trying a relationship for the third time.

Here’s What My Therapist Actually Said

“Don’t listen to what anyone else tells you. Only you know what the right decision will be.”

I was surprised that she hadn’t immediately written off our relationship, given our repeated break ups.

She told me that repeated breakups definitely meant yes, there was something which we clearly are doing wrong in our relationship. But no, that didn’t mean our relationship was doomed

However, we had to change something

Because if we planned on getting back together without making any changes, then ultimately we would break up again – and for good this time.

The truth is that unless you deliberately make changes to your behavior, your past will always repeat itself.

But if you make the right changes, your relationship can survive.

Then she sent me home with a list of ground rules to consider and act on before making my decision about whether or not I should date the same guy again.

woman sitting on sofa thinking about her reasons for trying a relationship for the third time

Step 1: First consider what your reasons for trying again are.

Be honest with yourself. What is your real reason for staying with your partner?

Is it because you’re afraid of being alone or because you’re afraid of change? Are you secretly scared that you’re not good enough and you won’t find someone else who loves you?

If this is the reason, then the right thing to do is break up. That means your ex is not the right person for you.

And the more scared you are of being alone, the more essential it is that you spend some time alone.

On the other hand, if your reason for trying is that you love your partner, and genuinely believe he is a good person, then move on to step 2.

I knew what my reason was – we loved each other. And we made each other happy.fff

Step 2: Figure out what you need in the relationship to be happy.

This was honestly the most helpful part of the entire exercise for me.

When I sat down and thought about what I wanted from a relationship, I realized I hadn’t been communicating my needs to him in the first place.

But more importantly, I hadn’t spent the time to really understand what I needed in a relationship.

Journaling helped me clear my thoughts, and understand what exactly it was that I wanted.

Once I was clear on what I needed in the relationship, I was able to create a list of things I could discuss with him.

The list wasn’t a deal breaker. It was simply a way for me to be able to determine whether our relationship had the potential to keep me happy in the future.

Sit down and spend some time thinking about it. Do you think your ex can give you what you need. Have you asked him?

If there are things on your list that are deal breakers, and your ex refuses to change them, then you either need to break up, or discuss them with a couples counselors.

man and woman talking to feel heard in the relationship

Step 3: Discuss what went wrong & how you can fix it

When we made the decision to stay together after the first breakup, we didn’t really talk about what had gone wrong.

We both knew it had been a mistake and were willing to make up again without any discussion. That was a mistake. What we needed was to find out why our relationship had broken down in the first place.

So the second time it happened my ex and I sat down and discussed it in great detail.

I love lists, so I convinced him to create a list of what had gone wrong in our relationship, and what we were going to do to change it.

If you’re not sure what’s causing your breakups, that’s okay! But you do need to figure out what triggered both of you so badly that you broke up twice.

Step 4: Are you both willing to leave the past behind?

Your previous relationship is over. It was a failed relationship. At this points its time to talk and decide whether you and your partner are willing to leave the past behind and start fresh.

That means you both have to almost treat your relationship like its new. Remember you are both making changes and neither of you will be behaving the same way anymore.

If you’re serious about getting back together, then you need to be willing to forgive each other for the mistakes that happened.

That doesn’t mean you don’t learn from them. It simply means you don’t keep bringing it up when you have a fight.

My now husband and i decided that we had spent enough time blaming each other, and we weren’t going to do that anymore.

The important thing was that we were moving forward. So we decided to use the whole experience as a learning opportunity.

woman in blue denim jacket leaning on man's shoulder near body of water

Step 5: Decide your next steps

If you’ve gone through the above steps and you and your ex both think it’s time to try one final time, then you should absolutely get back together! Be boyfriend and girlfriend again!

You’ve had the important conversation and discussed all your feelings. You’re both on the same page. It’s now time to get back together.

The only thing you have left to do is decide on your next steps. You already have some idea regarding what needs to happen to make your relationship work.

You just need to solidify what you’re going to do. Here are some things that helped strengthen our relationship.

  1. Understanding each others attachment styles
  2. Learning our love languages
  3. Working on our communication skills so that we both felt heard in our relationship.
  4. Completing a 30 day relationship challenge to reconnect.

Understand both your attachment styles

Your attachment style is the pattern of thoughts and behaviors that you use in relationships.

Your attachment style is usually shaped by how secure and loved you felt as a child, but can also change based on your past relationships.

You develop an attachment style through the relationships that you have with your parents or other caregivers during childhood.

Understanding what your attachment style is will allow you to understand whether your partner and you are caught in unhealthy patterns because your attachment styles conflict.

woman lying on bed

Anxiously attached individuals

Anxiously attached individuals focus on having a perfect relationship, and are preoccupied with closeness to their partner.

They fear rejection and abandonment by their partners, and will constantly seek reassurance that they are loved.

They are much more likely to be the more giving person in the relationship. But they are also usually the person chasing after their partner.

You may be anxiously attached if you are obsessed with self improvement. You are the one who is always trying to improve or fix your relationship. And you need lots of reassurance and love from your partner to feel loved.

Avoidantly attached individuals

Avoidantly attached individuals are afraid of commitment, and view themselves as self-sufficient.

They do not want to rely on others for support or love, so they stay “as far away from intimacy as possible.”

You may be avoidantly attached if becoming too close to someone terrifies you. And it makes you feel like you need to be alone, because you feel claustraphobic.

How do you know which one you are?

If your ex was the distant type then perhaps he is avoidantly attached, and if he was clingy then perhaps he is anxiously attached.

If you are unsure, try to think about the dynamic in your past relationships.

For example, do you feel that you have a hard time being intimate with someone?

Or maybe, when the going gets tough in your relationship, it’s always been your ex who ends up pushing you away and distancing himself.

Work on both your communication styles

Communication skills are probably the biggest reason for long-term relationship breakups. Particularly in long distance relationships .

No matter how much you love each other, if you can’t communicate properly, then your relationship will never work out. And you might as well break up right now.

Think about fights that you and your ex have had. What were his expectations about how the discussion would unfold. What were yours?

Discuss it without blame. Really listen to each others point of view. And then figure out a compromise.

My experience with communication differences

My partner and I both have different ways we communicate, so it was important to learn each other’s styles.

For instance, I enjoy discussing what is bothering me until I feel satisfied I have finished dealing with it. I expect my partner to talk or fight the issue until it’s run its course.

My husband, on the other hand, feels overwhelmed when we fight, or talk about our feelings.

We realized that we have a difference in the way we communicate, soon after our second break. And that if we didn’t figure out how to communicate better, it was going to become a major issue.

Our compromise was that my husband would tell me he was getting overwhelmed, and gave me a concrete time as to when we would continue our conversation.

Sometimes I would ask for a hug before we took some space. That way I felt reassured that he still loved me.

man and woman kissing near green leafed tree

Figure out your love languages

Love languages are messages of love which are often communicated without words. We all have at least one dominant love language, and this is how we feel loved in our relationship.

One of the reasons relationships don’t last is because one or both partners feel like the other person isn’t doing enough to make them feel loved. The problem is that we all express and feel love differently.

Understanding both of your love languages which help you both express your love language better There are 4 different love languages. Which one is you and which is your ex.

Words of affirmation:

Using words to express the way you feel about someone else. Telling your partner how much you love them. What exactly you love about them. What you admire about them.

Acts of service:

Doing things for your partner without being asked. An act of service can be anything from filling gas up for your partner, or cleaning the house. It can be organizing their sock drawer or making a phone call that they were dreading.

Quality time:

Spending time with a significant other without interruptions from their phone or anything else. Putting your devices away and giving all your attention to them is a great way to show someone you love them!

wrapped gift box

Receiving gifts:

Giving the person in your life presents as a way of showing that you care about them. You also feel loved when other people go out of their way to gift you something. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just well thought out.

If you are planning on getting back with your partner consider completing the 30 day relationship challenge. That will help you connect, improve your communication skills, and learn more about each others need.

My love language is Words of affirmation and physical touch.

My husbands is acts of service. This meant he would do acts of service for me, to express his feelings. But I had a hard time believing them because I needed to hear the words.

The moment we decided we were getting back together, we both started paying more attention to what the other person needed.

I started helping him out with chores, and started making an effort to use other words to express just how much he loved me.

Have Hope But Know When To Give Up

It’s alright to hope for the best, but you also need to know when to give up on your relationship. If your partner isn’t making the same effort as you, or if you both want completely different things then it is time to give up.

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