The ex-files: should you take them back or move on after a break up?

Man thinking about his relationship

A 2010 TED talk showed that spring is one of the most popular times to end a relationship. But, it seems that with these fresh starts come many fresh regrets. In fact, a recent EliteSingles study revealed that nearly half of Kiwi singles (46%) have had a partner dump them, then beg to be given a second chance.¹

Lost that loving feeling

In 2010, journalist and designer David McCandless digitally combed through 10,000 Facebook statuses to find phrases like ‘break up’ or ‘broken up.’ What he found was interesting: the use of these phrases fluctuates throughout the year, dipping dramatically on Christmas Day and rising on Mondays (and after the likes of Valentine’s Day). However, there were two peaks that loomed above all others – the start of spring and the start of the festive season. 2,3

Now, this was a Northern Hemisphere study, but there is no reason to think that New Zealand is different, especially when our spring leads right into the festive part of the year. Essentially, we are perfectly placed to combine the study’s two biggest peaks into break up Everest.

So what does this expected rise in the number of break ups mean for Kiwi men and women? Well, if the results of a recent EliteSingles study are anything to by, we should also prepare ourselves for a rise in the number of cases of break up regret.

Baby come back

Indeed, such regrets are more common than you’d think. In fact, our recent study of 200 New Zealanders found that nearly half of those surveyed have experienced a ‘boomerang break up,’ with 46% reporting that they’ve had an ex-partner dump them, then beg for a second chance.

What’s more, 38% have been guilty of such behaviour themselves. It seems men are slightly more likely than women to experience dumper’s remorse: 43% of Kiwi men admit to breaking up with someone and regretting it, compared with 35% of Kiwi women.

Breaking up is hard to do

So, what happens if an ex-partner does come back to you, pleading for another chance? For 48% of Kiwis, the answer is quite simple: they’d take them back.

But is rekindling the sparks of an old flame really such a good idea? As marriage and family therapist Sherri Myers told the Huffington Post, it actually can be. After all, sometimes a short break from each other is all you need to ‘’ breathe new life and love back into a relationship that has lost its luster.’’4

Indeed, if the pair of you are both still in love, and if the reasons behind the split were small enough that you can both truly acknowledge them, fix or forgive them, and then learn to live with the fact that they happened, then there’s every chance your relationship will be even stronger the second time around.

Never, ever getting back together

Yet, not all romantic reunions are a good idea. Indeed, there are a number of reasons to join the 52% of Kiwi singles who insist that a relationship rift be made permanent.

As Stuff columnist Chaz Harris points out, sometimes you simply have conflicting goals in life (for instance, you want to be child free; they want a baby, stat). If that’s the case, then the best way forward might be to say goodbye: a little heartache now can save a lot of pain and resentment in the future.5

In Psychology Today, Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D emphasises that it’s also important to understand if you really do want your old relationship back (complete with the flaws that broke you up in the first place), or whether you are pining for an idealised version of it that only exists as fantasy. If one or both of you is nursing expectations that life will be radically different, then there’s simply no point in rekindling that spark.6 That way can only lie pain and, eventually, resentment and emotional distance.

You will survive

Essentially, if you know, deep down, that neither of you will really change and that you won’t be able to stop dwelling on the reasons behind the break up, then it might be time to think about moving on separately, rather than moving forward together. However, that can often be easier said than done – for even if you know, rationally, that a relationship is not good for you, your emotions don’t always step into line.

EliteSingles’ resident psychologist, Salama Marine, acknowledges that moving on after a break up can be really tough. She says ”why do so many people turn back to their ex? Because they know that that person loved and valued them in the past, so it’s easier to go back to them instead of try to find someone new. Yet, doing this can be really painful and lower your self esteem which is the opposite of what you should be doing in the post-break up period. It is important to maintain self worth and if anything, try to boost your ego.”7

So how can you boost esteem while forgetting the pain of the break up? Salama advises ”Go out, meet your friends! Having fun will build your confidence and allow you to see that you are pleasing and interesting to others. You may even meet someone new who interests you! If you don’t feel ready to meet new people offline, you could join a dating site. This could be a good way to start believing in the possibility that there could be new romantic story in your life.”

She adds ”we cannot estimate how long it will take to fully get over your ex as it is different for everyone, but by giving yourself the tools to meet new people, you will finally meet the person you truly deserve.”

Are you ready to move on from your break up and start meeting singles who share your relationship goals? Try EliteSingles today.

EliteSingles editorial October 2016

If you have any insights on getting over a break up, then please let us know! You can comment below or email us at [email protected]


1 This and all other New Zealand specific statistics from the EliteSingles ‘Breaking Up’ study, 2016. Sample size: 200 New Zealand singles.

2 Doug Gross, writing for CNN, ‘Facebook knows when you’ll break up.’ Found at

3 Ellen Huerta, writing for the Huffington Post, ‘It’s Officially Breakup season.’ Found at

4 Sheri Myers, writing for the Huffington Post, ‘Making Up With Your Ex: Time To Go Back Or Keep Moving On?’ Found at ‘

5 Chaz Harris, writing for Stuff, ‘Should you end it if you want different things?’ Found at

6 Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D, writing for Psychology Today, ‘5 Ways to Move on When You Still Love Your Ex’. Found at

7 All Salama Marine quotes from an exclusive 2016 interview

About the author: Sophie Watson

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