A few years back, I was in an on again, off again relationship. Every few months, something (big somethings and small somethings) came up and we would call it quits. At least for a few weeks. Then, we would get back together and declare our undying love for each other. Oh, and we’d also vow to never break up again. Sounds like a functional relationship, right?

Wrong. I was just kidding. That relationship was anything but functional and far from healthy. By the second or third breakup, we should have realized that we weren’t right for each other. And that we were way better off apart. But this back and forth dynamic went on way past our third or fourth split. We probably broke up at least 12 times over the course of 6 years. And every single time, I wondered: will we get back together?

I finally realized that I was asking myself the wrong question. A much more important and appropriate question was: should we get back together? The answer was an overwhelming no. But that’s not the case for every couple that’s failed to make it work the first time around. If you find yourself wondering if you and your ex will get back together, adjust your thinking to focus on whether you should get back together. And find the right answer by exploring a few additional questions…

Why did we break up?

Something led to the demise of your relationship. Something significant. If you’re even slightly considering getting back together, you need to revisit the reason for your split. Did you break up in the heat of the moment? Is it a problem you can overcome? Why didn’t/couldn’t you work through it the first time around? These are all important questions to ask yourself. And if you do ultimately decide to get back together, you must come up with a more effective way of handling future issues. Here are a few healthy communication strategies to implement in your relationship, should you give it another try:

  • Use universal statements
  • Be kind and empathetic
  • Practice patience
  • Validate each other’s feelings
  • Be open and honest
  • Try to remain unbiased
  • Treat each other with respect

Did we foster a healthy relationship?

Now is the time to really dive into your relationship’s foundation. A healthy relationship isn’t just built on love, but support, honesty, and understanding. It takes hard work and meaningful time together. This might sound easy enough, but many couples realize that they either aren’t equipped for this kind of commitment right now, or they just don’t mesh well enough together. Others fail to acknowledge all it takes to foster a healthy relationship and make each other miserable for a long time to come instead.

So, was your relationship a healthy one? Or did you drive each other crazy? Were you able to talk through issues and concerns, or did it always turn into a screaming match? Every relationship comes with its uphill battles, but if the relationship is an uphill battle in itself, then you’re probably better off apart. If (yes, another if), on the other hand, you just recently started having trouble then there’s hope for piecing your relationship back together. Consider talking to a couples counselor about rebuilding your relationship and adopting healthier habits.

Can I see a future with this person?

Oftentimes people ask, “Can you imagine your life without this person?” But I think that’s nonsensical—of course you can picture your life without them. There was a time when you didn’t even know this person. Maybe you’d rather not picture your life without them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Instead, I challenge you to imagine your future with them. What does it look like? Consider the following…

  • Are you living happily ever after, or are you struggling to get along?
  • Do you support each other, or do you lead completely separate lives?
  • Do your hopes and ambitions align, or do you have different visions?

If you like what you see, then maybe it is worth giving this relationship one last chance. And if that future isn’t super bright, then it probably isn’t worth giving it another shot. Whichever you decide, make sure you don’t get sucked into a never-ending, back and forth, on and off and on again routine like I did. If you ultimately decide to go your separate ways after giving it further thought, then stand by that decision. It’s hard now, but trust me: you’re better off.