A lot of “get your ex back” advice glosses over signs you and your ex are mean’t to be, assuming most people have an intuitive grasp of them and know why they’re so important to a successful relationship.
Instead, the advice focuses on the nuts and bolts of re-attraction: what to say, where to take your ex, when to kiss, how not to look needy, or how to implement no contact. This advice also caters to people in need of a “quick fix.” The people who want to know how to game their ex to get them back.
The reason discussions about the signs you and your ex are meant to be are mostly ignored by conventional “get your ex back” advice is because these signs can’t be faked, changed, or controlled. You’re either have them ticked off with your ex or not.
All of this changes here.
Determining whether you and your ex are meant to be is a complex matter due to its multivariable nature. Some people define them in broad ways, and other people define them in narrow ways.
You may consider feeling passion toward your ex as a sign that you’re meant to be. You may consider a match in values and beliefs, a sign they’re meant to me. You may consider your food preference as a sign you’re meant to be. The list goes on and on. Then there are a bazillion other theories out there of what makes two people compatible and what doesn’t.
That being said, I’m convinced that compatibility is slightly more intricate than that. I think of it as a pyramid with five levels.
- Shared values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices.
- Physical attractiveness.
- Emotional attractiveness.
- Flaw management.
- Shared hobbies and/or preferences.
To have any chance of rebuilding your relationship and keeping it intact, you’ll have to be compatible with your ex in at least the first level of the pyramid. That said, being compatible only on the first level guarantees that your relationship will become dull at some point, thus harder to maintain.
A rule of thumb: If you’re compatible on at least levels one through four (from the bottom up), attempting reconciliation may be worth a shot. And depending if your ex still likes you and your last relationship was not a toxic shit show, cultivating a new one may be doable.
This is the equivalent of ticking off 70-80% of the signs you and your ex are meant to be. In fact, think of each level of the compatibility pyramid as a separate sign.
Signs You And Your Ex Are Meant To Be
Below, I’ll cover the five signs you and your ex are meant to be and unpack the theory behind them. The more of them you have checked out, the better your chances of rekindling your relationship and making it last.
1. Values, Beliefs And Lifestyle Changes
This is one of the most important signs you and your ex are meant to be. Values are the things you care about, beliefs are what you believe in, and lifestyle choices relate to how you live your life. All three areas have to be a match for a lasting relationship to blossom between two people.
Now, they don’t have to be identical necessarily — even though that helps — they simply must be in optimal alignment.
Generally speaking, high achievers will date and be in relationships with other high achievers. Close-minded and unmotivated drunks will attract other close-minded unmotivated drunks. People who value family will get involved with other people who also value family.
Tension arises when two people have a conflict in their values, beliefs, and lifestyle choices.
For example, a reckless and overweight drunk and an ambitious award-winning fitness model probably won’t date each other, let alone have a relationship together. The same goes for a dead-set Christian who values commitment and family and someone who abhors religion and wants to have a polyamorous relationship.
The fewer core values and beliefs you share with your ex, and the more your lifestyles differ, the less compatible you are with them. And you can often notice this. You’ll feel as if something is missing when you’re interacting with your ex. You’ll feel you’re not going in the same direction in life, and it will cause worry and sometimes even build resentment.
A solid indicator of incompatibility would be if you ever began to obsess about “the grass being greener on the other side” when being with your ex. Nevertheless, that can also be the issue of an avoidant attachment type.
The only way to really know the cause of your desire to leave the relationship and date other people is by deep introspection, often accompanied by a therapist.
Now, I want to make one thing clear before we move forward: it is possible to make a relationship work when there’s a case of opposing values, beliefs, and lifestyles, but it isn’t easy. It commands exceptional communication skills, mutual effort, and a shit-ton of compromises.
If you and your ex share opposing religious views, you still have to find a way to respect each other if you end up committing. Or, if you want three kids while your ex wants none, you both have to communicate your needs and compromise on them. Sometimes, that means having only one kid instead of three, and other times, it means having pets to replace one’s need for kids.
I’ve seen compromises like the ones above work. I’ve seen people of different religions reconcile. I’ve seen people with different parenting styles reconcile. I’ve seen people with different views on family reconcile. I’ve seen people with all kinds of toxic hangups reconcile and even transform into more mature and healthy people.
The only expectation here is logistics. If there’s one thing that almost always guarantees a breakup, it’s a long-distance. If you and your ex are long-distance and don’t have any plans to close the gap soon, the odds of getting back together — or even just maintaining a relationship if you’re already together — are next to null. Sorry fellow LDR peeps, but these forms of relationships are glaring signs that you and your ex are not meant to be.
2. Physical Attractiveness (Sexual Compatibility)
I know this is obvious to most, but if you want to create something lasting with your ex, or even if you’re just interested in a hookup, you must be physically drawn to them. This physicality threshold will vary from person to person, but it will also vary depending on where you are in your life and how desperate you are at the time.
It’s not very PC of me to say this, but physical looks genuinely matter. More to men than women, but they matter nevertheless. If my ex gained 100 pounds after our breakup and looked like the back of a Fiat Multipla, I would not try to get them back. I don’t care if they went to Harvard, were a six-figure earner, and cured cancer; I would not attempt to get them back. Period.
What’s not so obvious about this topic is that there is much more to physical attractiveness than mere looks. There’s a reason physical attractiveness is also called sexual compatibility. You and your ex must also be sexually in tune to check this compatibility box.
So if your ex just doesn’t “do it” for you in the bedroom, you shouldn’t be so eager to get back with them. However, this is a minor sign of incompatibility. If you’re already together and struggling sexually, try communicating your sexual needs and work something out or maybe try out a new position or have sex in a new environment. As a last resort, consider the possibility of an open relationship.
3. Emotional Attractiveness (Chemistry)
Chemistry is an emotional bond or reaction that happens unconsciously and keeps two people excited about one another. It’s when their personalities, emotions, and worldviews align in a certain way to stimulate each other.
It’s chemistry that makes all the hours you spend together go by like seconds. It’s chemistry that deludes you into thinking they have the most seductive smile. It’s chemistry that causes your dopamine receptors to go berserk whenever you interact with them. It’s chemistry that makes sex bed-shatteringly amazing.
Now, as fun as that sounds, there is a danger to chemistry. People often assume that since they have chemistry with their ex, they’re fully compatible. That’s sadly not the case. Chemistry is only a part of the compatibility equation. And what exactly does chemistry entail? Well, no one knows. Still, there are best guesses. Most experts say that relational chemistry is based on four factors: shared values, vulnerability, and complementary personality traits.
Shared values. This is when the signs you and your ex are meant to be, start to overlap. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Essentially, the more similar values you share with your ex, the more chemistry you would theoretically have with them.
Vulnerability. The more vulnerable you are with your ex, the higher the likelihood of having high chemistry. Think of it this way: if you hide all the bad parts about yourself, you’ll fail to build deep emotional connections with others. And since chemistry is a form of an emotional connection, you’ll fail at that as well.
Complementary personality traits. This is likely the primary cause of high chemistry. Here’s a practical example: I’m a very laid-back person, someone with low neuroticism. My girlfriend is a very anxious person, someone with high neuroticism. In short, she’s constantly freaking out about something, and I’m always calming her down. This dynamic creates a synergy in our relationship and sustains chemistry. The same holds true for other relationships and expands beyond simple neuroticism to areas like extraversion, agreeableness, openness, and conscientiousness. (1)
4. Hobbies And Preferences
Most people believe that the more shared hobbies and preferences they have with their ex, the better their chemistry if they end up getting back together. This is bullshit. Take my partner and me. I’m a huge bookworm; she prefers podcasts. I’m a lover of exotic food; she hates exotic food. I like to drive without music; she only drives with music. I like to play video games for fun; she likes to play with Lego blocks instead.
And guess fucking what? None of these things are obstacles in our relationship. We make it work in spite of them. We have so many other, more important commonalities (i.e., values, beliefs, lifestyles, life goals, etc. ) that things like hobbies and preferences become trivial. The same will probably hold true for your ex if you have other areas of compatibility handled.
Are We Ever Fully Compatible
This is perhaps the most important question to address — one that transcends the mere signs you and your ex are meant to be: are you ever fully compatible with your ex?
No, you’re not. There will always be something that will bother you about them and vice versa. Maybe you’d swoon every time they smile while at the same time get irritated about their slouched posture.
Exclusively focusing on compatibility, feel free to attempt reconciliation if you’re only 70-80% compatible with your ex. Is there a way to measure this? Fuck no. The percentages come down to your subjective feelings. But aside from that, 70-80% is still more than enough to have a well-functioning, healthy relationship with someone.
And one more thing: forget about the remaining 20-30%. It’s actually dealing with your ex’s flaws and irritating quirks that will ultimately lead to your relationship feeling meaningful and fulfilling.
So stop looking for signs that your ex is 100% compatible. They’re just not. They’re never going to be. And even if your ex was fully compatible, there’s no guarantee that they will stay compatible next week, next month, or in the next ten years.
As obvious as it sounds, your ex will change. They will let go of their old values and beliefs replace them with new ones. They will deprioritize some goals and prioritize others. They will alter their lifestyle at some point. They will become a totally new person in time. A person that, for the better or worse, you won’t even recognize anymore. And that’s okay. You’ll change as well.
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