What regrets after a break-up might really mean

As a woman who has penned two books on matters of the heart (Inside of Me and Pure Heart), has been a relationships writer for about two decades, and is a marriage life coach, I'll be the first to admit that breaking up is hard to do.

It sounds so cliche, right? That doesn't make it any less true, though. No matter who did the breaking up, no matter how short or long the relationship lasted, no matter what the reason (or reasons, because there is usually more than one) why you and "yours" decided to call it quits, ending a relationship can sting — if not flat-out take your breath away.

But what if, in the process of processing everything, you come to the conclusion that you want your ex back?

Before sending a midnight text or hitting them up in their DMs, please save your time and heart the trouble by reading some of the reasons behind why you might regret your break-up. That way, if you do decide to give it another shot, you know exactly — more or less — what you're getting yourself into. And why.

You broke up too soon

Relationships are work. Hard work, at times. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either not been in a relationship for more than a couple of months or someone within their relationship is not revealing all of their true feelings (probably in order to keep impressing the one they're with, or to "keep the peace").

Just because you're with a great person (and you're pretty impressive too), that doesn't mean there aren't going to be ups and downs — and disagreements. If every time the two of you don't see eye to eye on something, you end the relationship, you're probably gonna have regrets. Not only that, but you're also not going to do well in the next relationship. Why? It's because you're going to put yourself in the position of always running away from conflict. Every relationship has conflict.

If you broke up just because you got into a fight or you didn't give the relationship enough time to really get to know the other person, I hate to say it, but you definitely broke up too soon.

You need closure

Don't let anyone make fun of you (or tell you that you're "being dramatic") for wanting closure. It's important. Closure is how you're able to get answers to questions, clarity about the relationship and insights that you need in order to heal and move on.

Sometimes we regret breaking up with someone because closure never really happens. This is especially the case if the person we're seeing breaks up with us in a text message (tacky) or calls to break up but doesn't really want to talk about it (selfish and rude).

If you're not able to get your feelings off of your chest and express how you really feel, there will be a part of you that will always want to. And until that can happen, you might regret the break-up (understandably so).

You're lonely

Be honest. Were you in the relationship because it was the best thing that ever happened to you? Or is it more like you'd prefer being with them than being alone?

Some people stay in relationships so much longer than they should simply because they think not being in one will leave them lonely. But you know what? There's nothing lonelier than being in a relationship and not having your needs met or being mistreated.

It takes having a great sense of self to come to this kind of conclusion. So, before hitting up your ex (again), take a moment and ask yourself if you're doing it because it's what's best for you or simply because you don't want to be without someone. The answer to that question will reveal if you genuinely want to give the relationship another shot or if you're just looking to fill a void. If it's the latter, you need to make yourself more of a priority and learn how to "date yourself". When's the last time you've scheduled a pampering appointment?

You need to apologize

Pride has killed a lot of relationships. A huge part of the reason is because one or both people will make a mistake (intention or by accident) and refuse to either admit it and/or apologize for it.

If this point makes you feel uncomfortable, maybe you're the one who fits the bill. Knowing that you need to apologize and refusing to do so is basically saying "My ego is more important to me than you or this relationship." And really, who wants to stay with someone who thinks like that?

Dr. Phil used to ask on his show quite a bit, "Do you want to be right? Or do you want to be happy?" It's a loaded question that has a simple answer.

If you know that saying "I'm sorry" could mend your relationship, maybe that's why you regret breaking up. The good news is, you know what you can do to make things right.

You're still sleeping with them

If you can't seem to get over your ex — even though you know that you should — I have one question for you: Are you still sleeping with them? Continuing to have sex with an ex is like an alcoholic who is trying to stop drinking, but has a shot of whiskey or a can of beer every day! There is absolutely no way that you're going to be able to get over someone while still being under them!

A huge part of this is thanks-but-no-thanks to the hormone oxytocin. Some medical professionals call it the "love hormone" because it makes you feel closer to your partner during and after intercourse (as well as kissing and cuddling).

Do you know deep down that your ex is no good for you, but you just can't seem to let them go? It's probably not so much that you regret the break-up as you need to stop spending the night over their house. Or letting them sleep over at yours. Good sex does not automatically equate to a healthy relationship. Words to live by.

You want a second chance

Sometimes it takes losing someone for you to realize what you had. Don't feel bad if this is where you're at right now. It happens to the best of us.

If you regret breaking up with someone because you hate how things went down or you know that you took them for granted but you're working on changing your ways, don't let your pride or fear get in the way of trying to get another chance with them. Try reaching out and owning where you messed up. That alone may convince them that you're worth the risk of trying to make the relationship work.

Sometimes the second or third chance really is the charm. And that's okay.

You're scared to start over

You may have heard someone breakdown fear as an acronym: False Evidence Appearing Real. It applies to this point because some people think that they regret their break-up because of the relationship — but really, it's more about being scared to start over.

When you've been with someone a while, you've invested a lot of your time, effort and energy into them. When the relationship ends, you can be tempted to think that it was all a waste of time; that it's better to remain in the relationship (even if that also means that you're settling) rather than to begin all over again.

Don't believe that lie. If you learned from the experience, it helped you to grow. Rather than looking at being single again as being without someone, choose to see at it as an opportunity to do better the next time. With a clean slate in a world that's just full of possibilities!

You're not giving it enough time

Someone once said that for however long you were with someone, cut the time in half and that's how long it takes to get over them.

Eh, I don't buy that. All of us are individuals, which means all of us are unique. It's not so much about applying a formula as it is about applying a certain set of habits.

If it's only been a week or two, there are definitely going to be times when you're going to want to text your ex to say "I miss you" or call them to see what they are doing. If you broke up right before a holiday or one of your birthdays, that could be a trigger, too.

The relationship didn't take a day to develop, so it's not something you're going to be able to get over overnight. Give yourself at least a couple of months before coming to the conclusion that you regret your break-up. Wounds hurt, but scars? Not so much. Once you've healed a little more, you may end up having a totally different perspective. On them, yourself, and the relationship.

You're hanging around the wrong people

You might not have seen this one coming, but just hear me out.

When you decide that it's time to end a relationship, you're going to need the right kind of support system. People who will listen to you vent, provide a shoulder to cry on and take you out on the days when you'd really rather stay in bed and listen to love songs on loop.

But what if you're hanging around folks who are constantly talking about your ex, updating you on what they are doing on social media or even trying to talk you out of your decision to end it because they don't agree? One, they are not the kind of people you need in your life right now. Two, they may try and convince you that you regret breaking up when you actually don't. Really? They just need to stop.

You don't know how to be single

This is one of those uncomfortable questions that can actually help you to grow: Are you someone who always has to be in a relationship?

Think about your past three relationships. Why did you get in them? How long did they last? How long were you single before getting into a new one?

If you only feel complete if you're with someone, then pretty much every time a relationship comes to an end, you're gonna regret it. But it won't be so much about the relationship, but the relational status that it puts you in.

If this is you, all day long, it's time to start seeing being single in another light. Choose to see singleness as being whole and complete. Shift your mindset so you can see being single as an opportunity to discover who you are and what you really want out of life. That way, the next time you get into a relationship and you're not getting your needs met, ending it won't fill you with regret, but rather, relief. Relief that comes from knowing that you did what was best for you, followed by excitement about finding someone someday who will love you and make you happy — someone who will leave you with absolutely no regrets!

He loves me, he loves me not

There's probably not one person on the planet who hasn't experienced a break-up who hasn't had some regrets. It's natural. It's a part of life. But hopefully, what this article did was get you to really stop and think about the relationship, including if it's something worth going back to.

Even when a relationship comes to an end, there is a silver lining. When you're single, you can reflect on what you want, what you would've done differently and what you will (unapologetically) look for in the next relationship.

Regretting a break-up is nothing to feel bad about. Just make sure that if you get back with your ex, it moves you forward, not back.