Counter Offers and Reuniting with Exes Do Not Work

In business, should you inform your current employer that you have been offered a job elsewhere and they make an attractive counter offer to keep you, don’t accept it!.  Documented history over the last forty years indicates that within six months, nine times out of ten you will be gone, unhappily and maybe involuntarily so.  The same goes for reuniting with an old romantic flame once you have broken up.

Be it hopeful, naïve, or just plain stupid, the odds toward successfully rekindling and developing a better relationship and also improving it enough to make it worthwhile and lasting, the odds are less than one in ten that it will be successful.

So you met up with that old flame, gotten a phone call or an email about how things or they have changed.  They want to get back together again.   They will tell you how much they changed or now they are ready for a commitment.  You will be on a better track if you resist this reunion regardless of the “chemistry.”  Now if you are in a marriage, go for it with some third-party help, but otherwise the “friendship” route is almost certainly the best move.

I’ve worked and met more than 1,800 men and women in their forties and older.  They are old enough to be have lived enough live to be able to voluntarily validate this thesis without me leading them there, but many are nonetheless also still tempted to hope that the ‘Bad Boy or Girl Gone Good’ could still work for them.  How sad.  I’ve succumbed to it twice myself and ended up ending the relationship both times.  And youngsters, this applies to any age.

It has been my experience that women have a much harder time resisting this temptation.  In addition to the passion and nostalgia that rears its head during any post-breakup grief cycle, the natural tendencies to compromise, bargain, and feel in control of the situation further clouds already hazy judgment.

It’s so tempting to start over with someone that you already know you love, especially when they barrage you to get back with them.  I do believe that people change, and you may actually experience months of improvement, but eventually things will change with time or pressure.  Many agree with me that it is almost inevitable that you fall back into the old dynamics and patterns you had before – they’re like old habits and you’ve both brought all your baggage with you.

If I have described you, don’t beat yourself up over this.  Isn’t craving old times why we get back with exes in the first place?  Sadly that is also the comfort zone that makes meeting someone new, and ultimately a lot better for you impossible.

Again, where you may have a committed relationship or marriage at stake, the same odds exist so I would strongly recommend that you hire a trusted marriage counselor to help you and definitely not take the “do-it-yourself” route.  Otherwise, take a deep breath and recount exactly why the relationship didn’t flourish in the first place and move on as friends.  And to be completely candid, if one out of ten actually does work as it does in business with counteroffers, I’ve never seen it.  Leave your baggage behind and find a better match, and remember that a new paint job doesn’t change the old car – it just looks better from afar.

Bob Fagan continues to accept a limited number of  coaching clients and can be reached at

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