Can Relationships Work After A Breakup? | Knowing The Odds

Getting emotionally attached to a person is utterly involuntary. In relationships, being attached to your partner is an expected and inextricable part of the process. This is predominantly why, when relationships end, you may feel a burning desire to get back together, as the attachment is just too strong to let go of.

Relationships can and do work after a breakup, especially in situations where the reason for breaking up is solvable, like change in residence, mental problems, career, lack of commitment, differences in future goals, or a rough patch which results in a temporary loss of love.

The exact situations can be messy, but some problems are salvageable, as we will see in the next section.

When Can Relationships Recover From A Breakup?

Breakups are not always ugly and hot-headed. Sometimes, life throws at us some circumstances that force us to separate from our most beloved person.

You may know in your hearts that if provided a second chance, you could rekindle the relationship.

But those second chances come only when certain conditions are met, as rebuilding a broken bond is not easy. Situations and circumstances need to fall in proper alignment for the rebuilding to happen.

When do such nigh-perfect situations arise?

1. Cause Of Break-up Is Situational

Often, a breakup happens because of unavoidable circumstances, which forces the separation not because the two want to separate but rather because they have to.

Such situations can be one of the following:

Break-up Because Of Change In Residence

This happens when the couple has to break up because one or both have to move away to a different city/state/country, and one or both don’t want to manage a long-distance relationship.

Such breakups are done out of necessity and not because of a dearth of love within the couple.

Thus, when the stars align and the two separated lovers return in the same vicinity as each other- and they’re both available, old love can reignite the relationship.

They restart, albeit with a new beginning.

Break-up Because Of Change In Residence

Break-up Because Of Mental Distress

This is observed in couples where one or partner is learning to cope with mental illness (like OCD, BPD, depression, etc.), and the breakup was mutually agreed upon to let the other person be free from the worry of damaging the relationship because of their mental situation.

The breakup also serves as a way to provide some necessary space and me-time to the one suffering and gives them a period to get some much-needed help and get to a better position in their life.

Break-up Because Of Career

In today’s world of growing ambitions and raging hustle culture, it is not uncommon for people to break up with their partners to focus better on their studies/jobs/business.

Mature partners mutually agree to separate to give each other the necessary time and space to get ahead in their respective careers.

Many even decide on a time cap, after which they would get in touch again and begin dating. Such situations demand a lot of understanding and tons of difficult conversations between the partners.

Still, if both are willing, they can continue right where they left off and make their relationship blossom again.

Break-up Because Of Someone Else

It sounds a bit dramatic- right out of a soap opera, but real life is not that different from the reel one.

It’s very likely a happy couple is confronted by an ex, toxic friends, or some acquaintance who wants to express their disapproval and make cracks appear between the couple.

Such break ups are usually caused by misunderstandings fueled by the interference of a malicious third party.

Hence, once the third party is out of the picture or the duo realizes the overall truth, they can come back together, even stronger this time.

Proper and transparent communication is needed to achieve this, but it is only possible if both partners have the same goal in mind.

2. Break-up Because Of Differences In Future Plans

This is primarily observed in long-term relationships.

This conflict arises when although the two are very close, live together, and generally are very happy with each other, a difference in their plans for the future leads to them peacefully and mutually separating.

They might then search for future compatible partners for themselves. The plans can be anything, ranging from career goals to marriage plans to willingness to have children.

Such couples, mostly in their early to late 30s, get back together after discussing compromises in their plans. It happens because they realize they have grown interlinked- having spent so many years together.

3. Break-up Was Because of Lack of Commitment

When one person is not ready for a proper commitment, it usually leads to a breakup.

One person may want a serious relationship (which will hopefully lead to marriage), while their partner cannot agree to a serious commitment to the relationship.

Again, there’s no lack of genuine love and care but a difference in investment between the two.

If the one lacking commitment wants to engage in the relationship seriously, a compromise can reverse the breakup.

This is mostly observed when not much time has passed since the breakup, and the partners remained in contact throughout their time apart.

4. Break-up Because Of Loss Of Love

People can fall out of love just like they fell in it, and it’s more common than you may think.

Falling in love is not precisely explainable; you can’t exactly point out what made you fall in love with them, and similarly, you can’t just pinpoint why you fell out of love with someone.

You break up with the person because you are not feeling the spark anymore, despite having loved them considerably and constantly for a while.

Such rough, dull, and stagnant patches come with any longer-term relationship.

It has been observed that many times, what such a situation requires is not a breakup but rather an honest conversation between the two parties.

The one feeling a loss of love can communicate their thoughts with their partner, and both can work on resolving it, like a team.

Instead of breaking up and staying apart forever, one can decide to work on it and not mistake a stable relationship for a boring one.

Break-up Because Of Loss Of Love

5. Revisiting The Childhood-Sweetheart

You know this one. The breakup that happened way back in your early teenage years, probably in your first-ever relationship.

Such breakups often don’t have a legible reason, maybe a petty fight between you two led to a breakup, or maybe one of you got “bored”, or faced some minor problem that felt inordinately huge back then.

But since it all happened way back, the years that have passed have made both of you different, more capable people.

Then, suppose an opportunity arises where you two could revisit that innocent love of yours.

In that case, it can blossom into a great relationship, as people are often positively nostalgic about their early years, first loves, and fond memories of the point in life when they were carefree and truly happy.

Such emotions can make you bond over a shared nostalgia and can lead to a vibrant relationship.

Having read so many points about things working out, you must think that it all sounds too saccharine-sweet and that reality is grimmer than advertised.

Well, you wouldn’t be wrong about that, as we will see in the next section.

When Can Relationships NOT Work After A Breakup?

Bad breakups are ugly, abusive, and often traumatic. In fact, many breakups are a good thing for at least one of the duo, as they are saved from a lifetime of anguish and being wronged.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that these are the relationships that won’t ever work after a breakup.

1. Break-up Caused By Cheating

The heading above should be enough to describe the situation here.

After all, cheating (emotionally or physically) is one of the if not the worst thing one can do to their partner, and a breakup that happened because one of the duo cheated on the other with someone else, is a breakup that is not just valid but also necessary.

Cheating causes irreparable damage to your partner and can give them life-long trauma. If they had completely put down their walls, it could even make them unable to believe in people altogether.

And a relationship just can’t be rekindled after such a mishap. Period.

2. Break-up Because Of Abuse

Abusive relationships can leave persistent scars. Abuse doesn’t always have to be physical; it can be verbal or mental and is extremely harmful to the recipient of the abuse.

The abuser in the relationship often has a toxic expression of love, and it becomes a nightmare for their partner to tolerate their antics.

Breakups because of the relationship turning abusive are often accompanied by numerous visits to counselors, therapists, psychologists, and even the police in some cases.

In any case, the relationship should never be revisited, as no one deserves to be abused, especially in the name of “love.”

3. The Break-up After A String Of “Breaks”

Breaks are fine to take in a relationship. They tend to give both parties time to figure some things out for themselves, be it regarding the relationship itself or their career, personal life, family, etc.

The problem usually starts when one break turns into two, three, or five; going off and on like a strobe light.

The final break is The Breakup, often leading to a closure of emotions and attachment for one or both parties.

This closure is vital as it signifies the relationship which went through breaks has finally reached its dead-end, and moving on is the better option for everyone.

A patch-up after such a breakup will lead to nothing, but even more stagnation in the couple’s love lives.

The proverb “beating a dead horse” explains the scenario perfectly: trying to put effort and time into something that is just not going to work.

Although we have discussed the situations when relationships can work and not work after a breakup, how often do the favorable outcomes actually occur in real life? Let’s look at that with some numbers.

How Often Do Relationships Work After A Breakup?

Relationships and breakups constitute an essential part of our lives.

When it comes to getting back together, many studies have been conducted regarding how often couples get together after a breakup and other variables, and the findings are interesting.

According to different studies, 50% of couples get back together after a breakup. Amongst the people who got back together with their ex, 15% managed to stay together in the relationship with their partner for the foreseeable future.

Let’s look at the numbers and the statistics in detail.

1. 50% Get Back Together

According to a 2013 Kansas State University study:

Approximately 50% of the couples who break up often get back together, and the reasons cited include, but are not limited to: having mixed feelings about the breakup in the first place, assuming that the partner had changed or would change, or just the good-ol’ Sunk Cost Fallacy, which forces us to keep investing in something suboptimal just because we have been invested in it for a long time and we fear it all to be entirely in vain if we stop our involvement.

50% Get Back Together

2. 15% Get Back Together And Stay Together

According to a survey by Kevin Thompson, who runs the top site

Around 15% of the people who got back together with their ex after a breakup, stayed together with them for the foreseeable future.

This was a fascinating find, as almost all the participants contemplated reconnecting with their ex at some point in their life.

3. 15% Get Back Together But Broke-up Again

Coincidence or not, it was shocking to find that around 14.38% of people got back together with their ex, could not keep the relationship going, and broke up within a year of reconnecting.

Combining this number with the previous one, around 30% of the people managed to get back together with their ex after a breakup.

Though, as the numbers showed us, the success of renewing the relationship is not guaranteed.

Another interesting fact was that 70% of the people in this set of 3,712 did not get back together with their ex at all.


“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” – a quote that may very well summarize what this article is saying.

Although some situations are not salvageable, circumstances may provide enough chances to revisit the one that got away.

It really depends on the two people involved and their willingness to mend their once strong bond whether they get back together or not.

We hope the article will help you recognize those chances whenever they may arise in your life.

Shashank Verma

A trained theatre actor and a STEM graduate who brings perspectives and methods from these worlds into dating and relationships. Also a big time Krav Maga enthusiast and practitioner.

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