Back With the Ex is an Australian reality TV show about four former couples who have been split up for years, and have three weeks to decide whether they want to give their relationship a second chance. It premiered on Netflix in January, and watching it feels like snorting a highly concentrated line of every breakup you have ever coached a friend though — you dearly love these beautiful dummies and want to piece together the fragments of their fragile, shattered hearts with your own two hands, but also you hate them and wish that they would, for love of God and you, meet someone new and move the fuck on. It is the perfect show and I love it.
If you haven’t seen it yet, (1) What are you doing!!!! (2) Here is a brief summary of the couples and their respective relationship hurdles:
• Cam and Kate are former high-school sweethearts who broke up after Kate cheated on Cam at a party. Kate wants to get back with Cam, but he doesn’t know if he can trust her again.
• Erik and Lauren dated on-and-off for six years, during which time he would only see her on Sundays because he was focused on his abs and his career and tracking down the deepest V-neck T-shirts he could find. Erik looks like he’s a DJ, but he’s not. He wants to get back with Lauren, but she’s worried about him being Erik.
• Diane and Peter dated long distance in their 20s and, as they both say repeatedly, had really great sex. Now, they’re both divorced and in their 50s, and they haven’t seen each other for 28 years. Peter wants to get back with Diane, and they’re both horny for each other, but she’s worried about the practicalities of being together.
• Jeremy and Meg are chaos.
I will not give you any spoilers, because I am not a monster. But before you start reflecting on whether Cam will ever be able to trust Kate, or whether Erik will ever be able to be less Erik, let’s consider the basic premise of the show: Should you get back together with your ex?
According to New York City relationship expert Susan Winter, the prospect is increasingly popular.
“In the past, exes were exes for a reason,” Winter told the Cut. But now, “relationships are on the fly, and nobody knows what’s going on … I have never in my life seen this obsession with getting an ex back.”
As Winter explains, the confusion and ambiguity of online dating can be daunting, and has led many people running back to relationships they know once worked.
“With exes, we’ve had success. There is a known win,” she explained, adding that there is so much loss in dating, that it makes sense that after a while you would want to go back to something that felt like a win at some point.
While reuniting with a long lost love may seem appealing after a string of disastrous Tinder dates, is it actually a good idea? Winter says that if 75 to 80 percent of the relationship was good, you might want to try again.
If you do get back with an ex, it may feel amazing. At first. Like any relationship, there’s a honeymoon period, but as Winter notes, over time, old issues and patterns will begin to reappear. To move through these, there has to be a willingness for both partners to change, even if it seems like one has wronged the other. In a relationship where one partner previously cheated on the other for example, Winter explains, it’s not enough for the cheater to apologize and show that they have addressed the issues that led to their infidelity, the person who was cheated on also has to be willing to change and trust their partner in order for the relationship to move forward.
Although she hasn’t seen it, Winter says she likes the concept of Back With the Ex. “They are trying to get resolution. Movement is good.” She says she can’t predict which couples will successfully get back together — maybe Peter and Diane — and I don’t tell her because, as I mentioned before, I am not a monster.
If you do want to get back with your ex, Winter recommends opening the door of communication by using another reason to reach out — holidays, birthdays, alumni events. Ideally, this would invite some sort of back and forth that you can build on, and while texts and phone calls are good, the real prize is an in-person meeting, says Winter (during which you both fall madly in love and magically resolve your issues, says me).
Maybe you don’t want to get back with any of your exes, though. Maybe you just want to watch attractive people with good accents work through their emotional shit on TV. In that case, I would recommend Back With the Ex, on Netflix now.