It's very tempting to go back with a previous partner. After all, there might be very good reasons why you were attracted to this person in the first place as well as very understandable reasons why you broke up. But can you really re-kindle old love?  Unfortunately, there is no right answer for everyone. Here are some thoughts, questions and tips to consider.

1. What do I do if I am still attracted to my previous partner, but the person had serious problems such as drinking, anger and control issues, compulsive spending or depression?

It's true that no one is perfect and that you have to "choose your poison" when it comes to what you will tolerate, or not, in a relationship.  Regardless of the problem, however, you and your partner need to address solutions. Great sex leads to great promises but not necessarily great changes in behavior.  Actions, as they say, speak louder than words, and, I would add, kisses.  Here is a brief guide to help you handle serious issues. 

Ask your partner the following questions:

  1. What have you done to address the issue?
  2. Why do you think you had this problem? 
  3. If I contributed to the problem, what did I do? 
  4. What can we specifically do now so we don't fall into the same trap? 
  5. Will you go to therapy as soon as we have problems?

2. What if I was the one with the problem?

Sometimes, you are the one with the issues.  If you are serious about getting back together, you owe yourself and your partner an action plan.  I strongly recommend doing the following:

  1. Explain what you've learned about yourself.
  2. Own up to your contribution to the problems in the relationship.
  3. Develop a plan for how you will handle the problem as a couple.
  4. Make a pact to go to therapy the moment you see warning signs. Or, get into therapy now as a preventive strategy.  Of course, this option is your best plan. Be amongst the smart people and take this step.

3. What if we are really good for each other, but one of us was in a committed relationship or marriage?

Yes, even very nice people find themselves having affairs.  A very small number of affairs result in the end of the old relationship and a clean beginning of the new one. Here are some thoughts to consider about your longing and hope.

  1. Overall, it's just not a winning strategy to go back until the previous relationship is over. 
  2. Even if all previous ties have been legally and emotionally resolved, you might not find that it is smooth sailing once you get back together.  You might discover that the automatic distance and passion of affairs are what enabled you to fall in love.  The real life of a relationship begins when there are no more obstacles to genuine closeness.    
  3. Get professional help either immediately or the moment problems arise.
  4. Explain to each other how you got into your predicament.  For example, why did you choose your previous partner? 
  5. Discuss your expectations.  Don't expect that the problems you had in your previous relationship will not surface.

4. What if there weren't any big problems, but we broke up anyway?

There are many reasons why a good relationship can sour. Whatever the reason, make sure you explain to your partner how your life has now changed. Here are the top scenarios that contribute to the loss of a good partner.  See if they describe your situation. Usually, one of you:

  1. Was too young in years.  Being too young often means being too immature or being in a different stage of life.
  2. Had schooling to finish.
  3. Had parents who disapproved.
  4. Was serving in the armed forces.
  5. Experienced an illness or the loss of a parent or other close family member.
  6. Had financial problems.
  7. Has a change in values or goals.

5. If I do decide to go back to an old love, how do I do it?

Some people remain in touch.  However, if your past love has moved on and you have not stayed connected, here are some suggestions, which can also apply to you and your previous partner even if you do stay in touch.

  1. Ask people who know your partner about his or her love situation. Perhaps they will give you an opinion or even help you to reconnect. Stay in touch or renew contact with your shared friends.
  2. Search the person on sites that pertain to your previous partner's profession. Sometimes, these organizations include a detailed biography where you can learn whether the person has a spouse.
  3. Never stalk; however, you could join the same church or go to your old places, see familiar faces and take a chance on seeing each other.
  4. Search Facebook. Consider whether you feel comfortable asking to become a friend.
  5. If you went to the same school or camp, search for class and group lists.
  6. Get bold.  Make a cold contact.  Don't be aggressive.  One "excuse" that works is to tell the person that every year you make a resolution to contact an old friend, and this year, you are contacting them.