Welcome to our advice column where our editors offer thoughtful answers to your pressing inquiries. Head here to submit an anonymous question, and follow here for new Good Questions.

 My ex and I broke up for practical reasons, i.e. long distance and different life situations—not a lack of feelings or a betrayal. Since then, those practical reasons have shifted towards more favorable ones: I’ve moved back home early and I got the job I wanted in his city.

There is this feeling in my gut that the universe is setting us up to come together again, but I feel like how people normally view exes is rather negative (“don’t talk to them ever again”, “never get back together with someone you used to see”, “don’t be their friend”, “you get over someone by getting under someone else”). I am torn between this gut feeling and societal norms about exes.

What are your thoughts on rekindling past flames that didn’t end negatively? How can people decipher between gut feelings/knowing and their ego/these thoughts coming from a less positive place?

I’ve been thinking about your question a lot in the past few days, contemplating the best way to begin. Should I start with an anecdote? Should I present a list of rhetorical questions? But then I decided, I’d rather begin by simply stating the obvious, as I think that is what will best serve you and any other readers who find themselves in similar predicaments. So here it is: 


Seriously. Make your ex not an ex—like right now. With the hot mess that is 2020, there is seriously no time like the present to do what feels right and true in your gut. You want to be with him, and it sounds like he wants to be with you. Nothing in your question alludes to unhealthy patterns or red flags. You yourself said you broke up for practical reasons, not lack of feelings or betrayal. 

Who said it’s not normal to get back with an ex?

And who said it’s not normal to get back with an ex? Sure, your relationship ended, but I know more than a few couples who’ve called it quits for a season and then rekindled the love, my parents included. They dated in their mid-twenties before splitting up because my father said he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship (I think he knew my mom was the one and just got scared). They spent two years seeing other people before embracing the inevitable and living out their love story. They just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this past spring. 

Relationships are complicated and messy, and there is no such thing as “normal.” Every relationship is as unique as the people involved. The one thing I’d challenge you to consider is your focus on societal norms. We all put too much emphasis on what others will think when we go against the flow of “normal,” myself included. All those clichés about how we should and shouldn’t interact with an ex are just not helpful. You have to do what is best for you and for your partner, period. If you want to be together and feel the relationship is right, honor that. 

And trust your gut; it sounds like you have strong intuition. If you’re still feeling conflicted and like you can’t differentiate between societal narratives and what’s true, perhaps carve out some quiet time to journal, meditate, and sit alone with your thoughts and feelings. Sometimes our true voice only comes forward after we’ve cleared out the internal clutter and silenced the critical voices. Relationship therapists can also help with this. While therapy isn’t always accessible, some online counseling platforms offer sliding scale options.

Sometimes our true voice only comes forward after we’ve cleared out the internal clutter and silenced the critical voices.

Remember this: you know yourself best, and you’re the only one that can make this decision. Not your family and friends. Not society. Not even your ex. You must decide if this relationship is what you want. As your internet friend, I would say you already know the answer. x

P.S. Congrats on getting the job you wanted!!

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Kayti Christian (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. Growing up beneath the evergreens in the Sierra Nevadas, she returns to California after a decade split between states—including three years lived abroad. With an MA in Nonfiction Writing, she’s passionate about storytelling and fantastic content, especially as it relates to mental health, feminism, and sexuality. When not in-studio, she’s camping, reading memoir, or advocating for the Oxford comma.