First love can be beautiful, terrifying, and completely transformative. Even after all this time, you still get a kick out of hearing the song you shared, driving down their old street, or seeing their face on social media. Why not go for it if you’re still thinking about that special “one that got away” and wondering if you can make it work? We understand that reaching out can be intimidating, so we’ve created a step-by-step guide to reclaiming your first love.
Part 1 Setting Priorities and Expectations
1. Try to identify the factors that contributed to the relationship’s demise. Even if it’s difficult, understanding past issues in your relationship will help you work on yourself. The reasons you split up also have an impact on whether it’s a good idea to get back together. Couples frequently divorce due to misaligned priorities/expectations and differences in how quickly they progress through different stages of life. The good news is that your priorities may now be more aligned with those of your first love!
Check in with both your past and present selves: “Have my priorities or expectations for a partner shifted?”
Consider your current life stage: “Am I ready to date right now?” “Am I prepared to be in a relationship?”
“What am I willing to commit to?” you should ask yourself. “What do I anticipate my partner wanting to commit to?”
If you ended your relationship because your partner was abusive (emotionally or physically), be extremely cautious about resuming your relationship. Abusers can change, but it takes decades for them to fully admit their wrongdoings.
2. Manage your relationship expectations. When was the last time you saw your first love? Consider how much you’ve changed since then, and realise that your ex may have changed just as much—if not more! Embrace the exciting mindset of connecting as present versions of yourselves, rather than attempting to connect with past versions of yourselves.
“What do I hope to gain from this relationship?” ask yourself.
If possible, look them up on social media to see if they already have a partner or family.
Allow your first love to go if your ex already has a spouse. Remember that there is no such thing as a “perfect partner” (including your first love!). This means you will still be able to find happiness with someone else.
3. Work on your mental and emotional well-being. Reach out to friends and family to expand your support network and assist you in creating an independent, thriving life that is ready for partnership. If you want to reconnect because you’re lonely, understand that getting into a romantic relationship may not solve your problems right away. Consider working with a therapist to better understand how you feel as you strive to be a happier version of yourself.
Begin an emotional processing ritual, such as meditating or keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings.
Spend time doing things you enjoy and pursuing your passions to demonstrate to your ex that you are someone who is willing to put effort into your life and future relationships.
Part 2 Reaching out to Your Ex
1. Find out how to get in touch with your ex. Begin by looking up their full name on the internet or on a social media platform. Add any relevant information to your query (such as your hometown, birth year, job title, or nickname). To find a good phone number or email address, search through school alumni databases, professional networking sites, or contact shared friends. If you can find a profile on social media, feel free to contact them directly.
2. Make contact with your ex and request a catch-up. Rather than jumping right into the conversation about getting back together, send a single text, email, or phone call to say “hi.” If they do not respond, be patient and give them more time instead of coming on too strong with multiple calls, texts, and so on. It may seem intimidating to reach out, especially if it has been a long time, but shift your perspective and realise that they may be overjoyed to hear from you!
Recognize that you haven’t spoken in a while. When reaching out, use phrases like “throwback,” “reconnect,” or “blast from the past.”
Confidently request an in-person meeting (or a longer conversation via video call or phone): “I’d love to catch up with you some time.” Please let me know when it is most convenient for you.”
Make them feel at ease by providing an easy way for them to say they’re not ready: “I completely understand if you’re not ready to talk. Please notify me!”
3. Find out where they’re at in life. Before you get into your previous relationship, connect on a human level first. In order to learn how they’ve grown and changed since your relationship ended, inquire about their family, work, and interests. It may feel awkward at first, but once you start talking, you’ll be able to get back into your groove. You’ll be able to find out if they’re single as they talk about their lives.
“Hey, I remember you used to be a big fan of kitesurfing.” “Do you still do that?”
“What do you have planned for this week?”
“How are your parents?”
4. Reconnect over common interests and your shared history. Bring up your favourite memories from the relationship and begin a conversation about them. It’ll be enjoyable and sweet, and studies show that nostalgia reinforces positive feelings about relationships.
“I went downtown yesterday and noticed that little coffee shop where we used to meet. “Can you believe how much better it looks now?”
“What do you miss the most about the place where we grew up?”
“I have to say, I’m still listening to that playlist you put together for me.” “Can you tell me what you’re listening to these days?”
Part 3 Building a New Relationship
1. Look for indications that they may be interested in a relationship with you. Pay attention to both the big cues of flirting (whether they have a family or a partner) and the smaller cues of flirting, such as tone and body language.
Look for nonverbal cues such as casual touching, eye contact to show interest, a lot of smiling or nervous giggling, and mirroring your body language.
Take note of what they say: matching your level of interest in reminiscing about the relationship, and asking questions about your love life.
Remember that they may be in a different stage of life right now and may not be ready or able to be in a relationship with you. While that outcome may be difficult to accept, try to enjoy the moment of reconnecting with someone you care about and who cares about you!
2. Accept responsibility for your mistakes in the past and explain how you’ve improved. It takes a lot of courage to admit when you’ve made a mistake, but doing so lays the groundwork for moving forward. If you need to apologise for something, it’s never too late! Begin your statement by describing how you understand the situation, the impact, and how you’ve changed.
“I know I was terrible at communicating how I felt about you when we were dating. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate having you in my life, and now I’m working hard to make sure all the important people in my life know how much I care.”
“I never took full responsibility for cheating on you.” I’d like to express my heartfelt apologies. That was a bad decision, and I’m working hard now to accept responsibility for my mistakes in all aspects of my life.”
3. When you’re both comfortable with each other again, bring up the possibility of getting back together. Wait until talking feels natural again, which could take a few days, weeks, or even months. It’s tempting to want to speed things up, but try to enjoy the process of reconnecting (and possibly falling in love) again. Then, be direct and honest about how you feel. Remember, unless you ask, you’ll never know if they feel the same way you do.
“I’d like to be completely honest with you and tell you that I still have feelings for you.” “Would you ever consider rekindling your relationship?”
“I adore you, and I believe we’d still make an excellent couple, especially now that I’ve learned from my mistakes.” Will you give me another chance?”
If they say no, accept it confidently and gracefully. That way, you’ll come across as strong rather than desperate. Give yourself credit for making an effort!
4. Make new memories by going on fun dates. While you two have a wonderful history, don’t lose sight of the importance of creating a beautiful future together. Approach your shared time with an open mind, treating experiences as “firsts” and a chance to get to know one another. You’ve probably both changed a little over time, and it may take some time to reestablish teamwork and a strong connection.
Take a class together, or try out a new hobby together.
Visit new places: try a new restaurant, drive to a nearby city, or go on a weekend trip.
Commit to spending time together away from screens and distractions.
5. Make future plans and/or figure out long-term logistics. You and your first love may now have different lives and social circles, and you may even live in different cities. Those day-to-day details may appear to be a lot to think about, but you can make it work. Consider the logistics of how often you’ll see each other, whether you’ll eventually move in together, and so on to build a relationship that will last.
If you prefer to keep things slow and casual, that’s perfectly fine, too! Make enjoyable plans, such as going on a vacation, visiting a new museum or concert, or throwing a party together.
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