Just think … an old flame runs into you at the coffee shop, or the crosswalk, or the farmers market … or on a dating app. They’re either still single or freshly single. They have a new gleam to them; something is different but you just can’t put your finger on it. You feel a hint of the old butterflies and a comforting sense of familiarity. The feeling seems mutual. What next?
Maybe there were some differences the first time around. Maybe there was a loss of spark, a “fizzle” as Teen Vogue might say. But you’re feeling open, and wondering if it’d behoove you or be a major waste of time to give an ex-lover another shot. We figured our resident relationship coach and expert and author of The Dang Factor, Michelle Afont, would have some answers.
“Taking a chance on an old fling can be a great idea, as long as you have one caveat in place: don’t get your hopes up too high,” Afont warns off the bat. This is a decent rule of thumb for all new dating adventures, but especially important when taking a stroll on those blocks we’ve uh, already been around.
“Revisiting an old fling in hopes of a more serious relationship this time around can be a great idea as long as core changes have ensued since your last encounter.
If years have passed since your last hookup, there is a good chance you have both grown up considerably. It’s likely you both have a new set of life priorities and have a more mature mindset when it comes to your future. What you don’t want to do is go back to the same situation and circumstances of the fling. Something needs to have changed since the last time you hooked up; otherwise, you are simply having a second fling, which does not move you forward in life.”
That is considering you want a partnership. If you’re just looking for a little fun, what’re a few encounters with the comfort of an old *special* friend? But if you’re looking for more of a commitment, conversations with yourself, and this person, need to be had.
“It is important that if you do take the chance on a second shot at love, things that bothered you about him/her during the fling have been resolved (or alternatively, your tolerance level for his/her quirks has expanded). For instance, if he had no drive or ambition back then, there is a good chance that with age came a renewed force of motivation. Because there is natural maturity with age, meeting up with a past fling can have fun and positive benefits. This is especially true:
- If you harbor any sort of unresolved feelings toward him.
- If you commonly ask yourself ‘what if?’
- If you are looking him up on social media.
- If you are asking friends about him.
- If you genuinely miss having him in your life.
- If you are both single and available.
- If you are fairly certain the circumstances have changed since the last fling.”
Getting back with a not-quite-ex doesn’t always have to equal the danger zone, or setting yourself up for another failure. In fact, timing often has much to do with couples either working out, or not, so if this person had potential that still rings clear in your head, it could be worth exploring. The bottom line? Just don’t let yourself fall back into old patterns and let history repeat itself. Be clear about your needs, boundaries, and expectations, and be ready to give it up if nothing’s changed since round one.
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