Hitting rewind

Updated: Jan 28, 2020, 09:53 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

With speculation rife about Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston considering getting back together, experts deliberate on what reuniting with an old love entails

Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt in a photo from 2004, when they were still married. Pic/AFP
Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt in a photo from 2004, when they were still married. Pic/AFP

Being in a steady relationship with someone isn't a walk in the park. It's more like a full-time job. The sort of daily adjustments that the two people need to make in their personal lives makes or breaks their future as a couple. Both have to function on an even keel. But what often happens is that for some reason or the other, matters come to a point where it isn't feasible to carry on. The couple separates. They take time off from each other to reassess their lives. And in the hindsight that this distance provides, chances are that they eventually come to an understanding where they decide to start afresh and give the relationship another shot.

It's what social media users are hoping is the case with Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, after photos of the two exchanging tender moments at the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards went viral. The duo was married for five years before filing for divorce in 2005. Both had public romances after. But they are single again, Aniston having gone through a second divorce with Justin Theroux, and Pitt with Angelina Jolie. That is what's given birth to the will-they-won't-they speculation. But regardless of how things pan out, getting back with your ex-partner shouldn't be a hasty decision. There are things to consider. Why did you break up in the first place? What's your emotional growth been like in the intervening period? How much has your partner matured? And were your initial differences irresolvable? These are some of the questions you need to ask before rekindling the flame.

Nupur Sen
Nupur Sen

Read the situation
"You have to look at the situation objectively," says Nupur Sen, a counsellor. "Before blaming others, you have to ask yourself, 'What was my role in the separation? What were the responsibilities that I didn't fulfill?' The other person had their share of duties, too. So you also have to consider whether they pulled their weight or not when you were together, and if they didn't, you have to figure out how you can help them achieve that the second time around," she adds.
Sen also tells us that one of the reasons why couples get back together is that they had an emotional support system when they were in the relationship. When that system is broken, a void gets created. And unless a person has a high tolerance level for stress, that hollow feeling is difficult to cope with. "There was someone who came to see me after breaking up with his partner and told me how little things like making one cup of tea instead of two get him down. He'd formed a habit of staying together, which has been hampered," Sen says.

Second-time lucky?
She also adds a caveat for people who are thinking of getting back with their ex. If your partner has some sort of disorder that makes them behave erratically, it's best to think long and hard before re-igniting the relationship. There are also people your paramour is close to who might not have the best intentions. So you need to ensure that those bad apples don't manipulate him or her in any way.

But if all said and done, you ultimately start a second innings, Sen says that there is a sense of maturity that gives the relationship a different dimension. You and your partner know the sort of triggers you pulled that made you part ways earlier. Chances are thus that you won't repeat those mistakes, though Sen warns, "This isn't a hard and fast rule since no two people are the same." Either way, it's a fresh start. A new chapter begins. So, make the most of the fact that life has given you a second chance to find happiness with the person you have chosen, once again.

A marriage slips away

It was an unconventional wedding ceremony. But the day I got married remains the most beautiful day of my life. One of the smartest minds I have ever come across was willing to give me love, affection and so much more. But that's all gone today. She's now my ex-wife, mainly because our lifestyle choices didn't match. I did try going back multiple times. But it didn't work out. Every time I went back, things seemed to be going from bad to worse.

Shayan Chowdhury

Our marriage slipped further away in the time that we stayed separately, each passing day perhaps giving her the clarity and reasons she was looking for. She believed that her decision to leave me was the right one. That's why we didn't try therapy or marriage-counselling, since she was so sure. I tried for a year to make things work out, but to no avail. And she couldn't have explained it better than she did the last time I saw her, when she said, "You broke my belief in going the extra mile for anybody" Some marriages are never meant to be.

Shayan Chowdhury, 35, marketing professional

More understanding and forgiveness

Tridib, my boyfriend, and I met in the most Bombay fashion possible — at an after-party at a common friend's place. I already knew of him through some friends, which helped in the initial getting-to-know-each-another phase. After that night, we somehow bumped into each other quite a bit, which lead to us becoming Facebook friends. We would share memes and articles to read, and he casually asked me one day if I was going for a gig. It was DJ Daisuke Tanabe's first India tour. The pub was filled to the brim. He made the first move, and we eventually started a whirlwind romance that involved frequent amounts of dinners, drinks and Netflix.

Devarshi Gohil

For reasons we both know, we ended up parting ways a couple of times. But the last time really felt like it was the end of our four-year chapter. In my time apart, there was a lot of healing and trying to piece together my own identity. I spent a month away in Goa and after finally getting back to the gig scene in Mumbai, we saw each other again. That's when it just hit me like a bus. There was a sense of familiarity and comfort I felt with him that I could never find in our time apart. We eventually decided to see one another again, and felt that we just couldn't do without the other.

This time, though, we are smarter and more understanding. We are more forgiving and have put in the effort it takes to make us work, as a couple. I'm beyond glad that we found our way back.

Devarshi Gohil, 30, graphic designer

Keys to return

. Look at the situation in an impersonal manner, to understand whether you're making the right decision.

. Evaluate the reasons for your break-up, be it something like not helping around the house or your social lives not matching.

. Try and mature as a person in the time that you are separated.

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