6. Avoid rehashing the past. After you’ve acknowledged the problem, look ahead. “Don’t go down memory lane and hash out all the things you thought were wrong with the relationship,” Spira says. Focus on the positive qualities that brought you together in the first place, like that same crazy sense of humor, or the way your laid-back personality complements her type-A tendencies.
7. Use the friend group. While you want a new beginning, you should still tap back into those old loving feelings. And an easy way to recreate happy times is to meet up in a safe, familiar environment—like an outing with your mutual friend group. Just make sure you can easily break off from the pack to talk. Alisha, from San Antonio, TX, had an ex take that approach—and it worked. “We were telling stories, joking and laughing together. It was comfortable, fun. Then my ex pulled me aside and asked me if we could give things another try. We talked a lot about our futures, and I felt things could really work.”
8. Don’t compare notes. Look, forget that relationship-station hiatus even existed. You both up and went on with your lives while you were apart—but that doesn’t mean you need to talk about what went down. “She doesn’t need to hear about the bad dates you went on,” says Spira,“ or about your conquests either.” Would you want to hear about the guys who took your place? Didn’t think so.
9. Tap your romantic side. While chivalrous acts aren’t the most important thing, they are important. Chocolates, cards and flowers (sent to her office so all her co-workers can get green with envy) are time-honored clichés for a reason: they kind of work. But here’s how to make it a legit, not cheesy, gesture. “Write a love letter,” says Frances. “Tell her why you love her and what it is about her that makes her completely special. It’s OK to rip off lyrics or poetry. Send the letter with flowers. Good, old-fashioned courtship works.”
10. Buy a ring. Relax. This advice isn’t for everyone, obviously. But if you’re absolutely positive about this girl, the ultimate bold move has had unparalleled success, says Frances. “Most of the time, the split is about commitment issues, so you’ve got to be coming back with terms she’ll be happy with.” And even if you’re not ready for the ring? You can learn something here: You have got to step it up and have a plan for the relationship. Period. No woman will rekindle a romance that’s not moving her forward…at least a little bit.