The news of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck dating again – a whole 17 years after calling off their 2004 engagement – coupled with the boom in breakups post-lockdown has made many people nostalgic for relationships past.
Angelina Jolie has been spotted visiting her ex-husband Jonny Lee Miller’s apartment several times recently, sparking reconciliation rumours 22 years after their divorce in 1999. And it would be remiss not to mention the endless shipping of “buddies” Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, divorced since 2005, whose 2020 SAG Awards reunion sent the rumour mill into overdrive.
Celebrities aren’t the only ones embarking on a Hot Ex Summer, though. The pandemic reportedly prompted people to reconnect with their exes in droves, spurred on by a combination of boredom, loneliness and that “world-is-burning” feeling which led them to seek comfort in the familiar.
People reach out to their exes all the time, of course, but there’s a difference between sending a “U up?” text to someone you matched with on Hinge last year and reconnecting with a long-term partner from five plus years ago because your circumstances have changed or your priorities have shifted after a period of personal growth.
When 30-year-old Jasmine* matched with a man she’d dated 10 years prior on Tinder, she was unrecognisable from her early 20s self: she had glasses, and her hair was a completely different colour and length. Her ex didn’t even realise it was the woman he’d dated before. Jasmine assumed he’d swiped right by accident. “He said that while he didn’t realise it was me, he’d be happy to meet up for drinks to catch up as so much time had passed.”
Jasmine had initiated the breakup because of their divergent goals: he wanted to travel, while she was “more of a homebody” and was about to start college. In the decade that followed, they both had other serious long-term relationships that ended for their own reasons, and got to live out their 20s without each other.
“It was nerve-wracking meeting up after not talking for so long,” she remembers. “We were both nervous. I was optimistic about seeing him though.” They’d always got on well and even if they didn’t end up dating again, Jasmine figured it would be nice to catch up.
Her ex hadn’t changed much, save for some more facial hair, and it became obvious that their meeting was more than old friends catching up. “We weren’t really sure if it was a date or not until one of his friends yelled across the bar: ‘Hey man, are you on a date?’ And he went red and said: ‘Uhhh…yes’,” Jasmine says.
They chatted about what they’d been up to for the last decade, what they were both looking for now and how their interests had changed. “We quickly realised we were a lot more compatible than we had previously been.” They went back to his place and started texting the next day to plan their second date.
A few days later, Jasmine asked him straight up “what he wanted [them] to be” and they became official again. After “hitting it off so hard”, Jasmine didn’t have any doubts or worries about rekindling the relationship, especially given how much they’d both changed.
They recently moved in together and plan to get married next year. “Our relationship is much better now than it was before because we both want the same things and have had time to grow as people.”
Looking back, while the breakup was upsetting, neither Jasmine nor her partner regrets it – it was the right decision based on where they were in life at the time. “We wouldn’t have grown by staying together and our separate life experiences have been invaluable because they shaped us into two people that are right for each other now,” she says. They’re just happy they managed to find each other again.
“Every situation is different so while you might be looking at J.Lo rekindling her romance with Ben Affleck and rolling your eyes, remember there are no strict rules about whether you should or shouldn’t go back to your ex,” says Hayley Quinn, Match’s dating expert.
It’s worth remembering, though, that if someone is your ex, they’re usually your ex for a reason, Quinn explains. “As the years go by and you haven’t met anyone else you’ve connected with on the same level, it can be too easy to look back on a previous relationship, thinking it was ‘the one’. Don’t.” If it was a toxic or on-and-off relationship, Quinn recommends writing down 10 reasons why it didn’t work rather than messaging your ex and thinking about why it could.
As dangerous as it is to assume that someone will have changed for the better and be more ready for a relationship than they were the first time around, it’s equally bad to assume that everything will have stayed the same, Quinn adds. “As we go through life we have experiences that shape and change us, so don’t go back to an ex expecting to relive your relationship heyday – you’ll have to rediscover them as they are today.”
A good reason to rekindle an old relationship would be if, like Jasmine and her ex, you’ve come to know who your ex is all over again. “It could be that the first time around you had all the connection but the circumstances weren’t right to make the relationship work; someone had to leave the country, or wasn’t fully single,” says Quinn. There’s no harm in giving the relationship another go if the road is now clear. “Just make sure you take off your rose-tinted glasses first and go into it open-minded.”
Before leaping back into a relationship with an ex, Jasmine cautions, evaluate why you broke up in the first place. “If it was because one of you cheated, you should probably avoid getting back together. If it was because you had different life goals at the time, then it may be worth considering reuniting if you’re both interested and it seems like a better fit. Timing can be everything.”
If it’s been years since you dated, it’s important to rediscover who they are now, advises Quinn. “People change, and sometimes not in the way you might expect, so treat this new interaction as a blank slate,” she says. “It’s also much easier said than done, but be cautious of building too many expectations around them before you’ve had time to get to know one another in the real world. It can be easy to romanticise a returning lost love but remember they still have to show you that your partnership works in the here and now, rather than living in the past.”
Go back to the drawing board and take things slowly, she says – experience ‘firsts’ all over again and enjoy the early stages of the relationship. “Avoid accelerating towards any milestone events, like moving in, before you’re both clear that you’re on the same page and have a future together.” If it’s just an ex-rated summer you’re after though, you probably don’t need to take the same precautions.
*Name has been changed to protect source’s identity
Credit: Original article published here.