Why Reuniting with Your Ex Works (or Doesn't), According to Science


Gabrielle White

What is it about lost love that’s so romantic?

An article by Quartz tries to answer this question by diving into research at California State University, Sacramento. Researchers surveyed 1001 people in the 1990s who had ever reunited with an ex lover. Of them, 72% were still with the ex flame they had reunited with, 71% said the reunion had been their most intense romance ever, and 61% reported that the second romance had raced forward much more quickly than the first time around.

Another study by the same research team from 2004 to 2005 aligned similarly with those rosy findings. Of the few who did marry their lost loves in the second study, those marriages had a virtually 0% divorce rate– just .4%.

Feeling encouraged by the numbers? Not so fast.

According to Dr. Nancy Kalish, who led the study, there is one crucial thread among the group of successfully reunited former lovers: the relationships that were successful later on had usually ended the first time because of some external factor, rather than the relationship itself (e.g. needing to move for work or family, disapproving parents, etc.).

So while the intensity of rekindling a former love is appealing– no small talk! no awkward in-between stage!– revisiting an ex love may not be wise across the board. But for some, it could be fair to say a fizzled flame stands a fighting chance. Maybe.

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