Just met up again with my ex of five years ago, and we’ve arranged to go out for a meal next week. I’m so, so tempted to take it further – he’s as handsome as he’s ever been, has just moved back to our home town to take a great job, and when we bumped into each other it was clear that the chemistry is still so there.
But when we were an item it ended badly. He was very jealous of my career success, and could never support me. He’d whinge if I had to go away to conferences or work late and was never willing to talk through my work problems or even what I did day to day. It didn’t help that he was struggling in his own career and it all came to a head when I got a huge promotion and he refused to celebrate with me. I walked.
Now I’m torn. I absolutely don’t want to get back into the same dynamic again, but in every other way I’ve always known we’re well suited. When we’re good we’re very good and he can always make me laugh. So should I meet him for dinner or not?
Yes, I think you should meet your ex for dinner. Because although usually I advise against restarting an old relationship, if enough time has passed and if you’ve both changed enough, then you can sometimes start a new one. And the only way you will find out if enough has changed to start a new relationship with this guy is by getting to know who he is now. And that means spending a little time with him.
I absolutely agree that you don’t want to end up in a situation where he’s still jealous of your career success. And it could be that jealousy of that kind is so much part of his personality that if you get back together, he’ll just run the same numbers again. So if you have the slightest doubts in that direction, back off.
But five years on, your ex may have grown up. He may have learned from what happened between you first time round. He may have learned from the relationships he’s had you were together. He may also have learned from his career improvement – though don’t rely on that to keep things good between you, for what happens if at some time in the future he loses his job and so once more feels he’s playing second fiddle to you.
So go to dinner – but go with an agenda of gathering information. Is this man more secure in himself? Is he more secure around work? Does he realise what he did wrong last time and is he aware of how things would need to be different this time? Also, have you changed? Could you handle his jealousy better, help him feel unthreatened by your success whilst not compromising yourself or your own achievements?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then of course take things further. Another meal, another drink, a day spent together, a long weekend. I wouldn’t rush into commitment – you and your ex have a lot to get sorted. But if you do get sorted, then potentially it could be a good move to start again.
Susan Quilliam also offers email, phone and face-to-face coaching on relationship and sexuality issues. Contact her here