How to date your ex all over again

Sometime late last year, my ex and I worked up the nerve to become friends again. We had been broken up for two years and decided that we could definitely be friends. We would meet once or twice a month for coffee or pho, catch each other up on the latest in each others’ lives, and in general, have a nice, easy-going time.

These “friend dates” soon grew longer. After coffee or dinner, we would go over to each others’ house and watch a movie. And then show each other silly videos on YouTube…and then play each other our new favorite songs. We would find ways to continue spending time with each other without delving into the potentially disastrous territory of admitting that maybe, just maybe, there were some residual romantic feelings worth exploring. Months later, after one of these prolonged hang outs, we finally addressed the elephant in the room and started dating again. And it’s been AWESOME.

Dating an ex can be insanely tricky. There can be weird hang-ups about your past relationship, concerned friends who don’t approve, and a myriad of other things that can lead to a sad sizzle-out of a potentially fantastic rekindled relationship. If you are considering seriously dating an ex, here are some things to keep in mind.

Date them as if they were a new partner.

Dating an ex has its perks: you know what side of the bed they prefer, their favorite pump up music, and all of the little quirks and habits that made you fall for them in the first place. My advice, however, is to not assume anything about your new/old partner, but to relearn about this person. In your time apart, your ex could have done a multitude of really cool things, like contemplating a new career path, getting really into meditation or become the biggest Chicago Bulls fan in the world. Even if you know these new things from, ahem, “online research,” it is worth actually hearing it from them.

Don’t jump right back into your old ways

This is someone you have been intimate with in the past, and it may be tempting to have your second date on the couch binge watching Game of Thrones and ordering in Indian food. But it’s worth it to establish a new relationship pattern rather than rely on the intimacy you already have. (After all, there’s a reason the first time around didn’t work, right?) Dress up for dates. Go to places you haven’t been with this person. Your new “old” relationship will only benefit from it.

Don’t hold grudges from the past, but DO address past issues

If you guys had a fairly horrible break-up, the idea of bringing it up when you are in the fun stage of dating may seem like the least appealing idea ever. Guilt trips about past relationship failures will tank a new redo relationship fast, but being open and honest about what went wrong will help prevent history from repeating itself.

As tempting as it is, don’t ask about flings in between

You may have seen photos of your ex with other men or women, but delving into the nitty gritty of what they’ve done with whom since you first dated is a recipe for disaster. You weren’t dating at the time, so they were allowed to see whomever they wanted. As were you. Unless you are warning them that a person you dated is still in your social group or that you have remained friends, getting into details could lead to unwarranted jealousy and trust issues.

Keep friends’ warnings in perspective

Once things become a little more official, friends and family may feel the need to remind you of all the terrible things that this person put you through. Remember that they are doing this out of genuine care for you. They’ve seen this person put you through the wringer and the idea of the same person throwing you for a loop again may shoot up red flags for them. If a friend or family member feels the need to talk AT you and tell you that you shouldn’t be doing this, thank them for their concern, but remind them that you are an adult and you have thought this through.

Speaking of – DO think it through!

It can be very easy to fall back into a relationship with an ex-partner, so be sure this is something you WANT and not something you are doing out of loneliness or because you simply want to be dating someone. Really ask yourself why you want to be with this person: have they changed in a positive way since the last time? Have you? Do your long term goals line up? Does this person seem to be on the same page as you as to where the relationship is going? Taking a personal inventory can be daunting, but it will help you determine whether or not this second round is for real.

Sure, sometimes dating an ex is a giant mistake, but in my experience if you approach it maturely and honestly, it can be all sorts of wonderful.

Maggie Clancy is a horror film aficionado living in Los Angeles. She writes about freelancing and feelings with her sister over on Unbound Process and makes what her parents refer to as “hippie candles” on Etsy. Feel free to follow her sporadic musings on feminism, film, and puppies on the twittersphere: @maggieclancy.