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Love is Complicated: Advice on Navigating Relationships With Exes

Relationships are messy. Especially when those relationships involve exes. In this flashback episode of Five Minute Shorts, we see Haley and Luke, two exes with a complicated history, reunite unexpectedly on a blind date set up by Haley's brother.

As someone who has had her fair share of awkward run-ins with exes, I sympathized with Haley and Luke's situation. Seeing your ex, the person who you were once intimate with and shared your life with, can bring up a lot of unresolved feelings and tension. Haley and Luke's conversation is laced with bitterness, hurt, and defensiveness - all normal emotions when interacting with an ex.

While their date doesn't seem to be going well at first, Haley and Luke eventually open up to each other. They talk about what went wrong in their relationship, laugh over memories, and show genuine concern for one another. By the end of the episode, they share a kiss, suggesting unresolved feelings between them.

Navigating relationships with exes can be extremely tricky. Here's some advice I'd offer Haley and Luke, as well as anyone trying to deal with an ex:

Don't Force It

Trying to force a renewed romantic relationship with an ex rarely works out well. Haley attempts to convince Luke to continue their date, suggesting they go to a restaurant she has booked. But Luke shuts her down, saying a date is a bad idea. As much as we want to revive the passion and comfort of an old relationship, both parties need to enter a reconciliation for the right reasons. Haley and Luke should take things slow and focus on rebuilding trust and friendship before considering romance again.

Talk Openly and Honestly

Open, honest communication is key to any successful relationship, especially with an ex. Haley and Luke need to discuss what factors led to their breakup in the first place. Why did Haley end up having an affair with Luke's dad? What underlying issues or resentments built up during their relationship? Airing grievances and expressing vulnerabilities can help both parties find closure and clarity.

Forgive Each Other

To move forward, Haley and Luke need to leave the past behind them. Carrying bitterness and anger toward an ex is like drinking poison and expecting them to die. It will only breed resentment. Haley seems genuinely apologetic about the affair with Luke's dad, explaining the circumstances around it. Luke needs to find empathy and realize Haley is human and made a mistake. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.

Don't Let Others Influence You

Haley reveals her brother keeps pressuring her to be involved in his dysfunctional marriage. But we all need to make relationship decisions for ourselves, based on our own desires - not what others want. Haley needs to set firm boundaries with her brother and refuse his attempts to meddle. And Luke shouldn't let Haley's brother sway his feelings or actions toward Haley either.

Listen to Your Heart

Logic doesn't always apply when it comes to affairs of the heart. Haley and Luke need to listen to their true feelings, not just their heads. While their painful history suggests they may be better off apart, the attraction and affection they clearly still feel indicates they aren't ready to let each other go. At the end of the day, Haley and Luke need to listen to their hearts and let that guide them.

Take Things Slow

Rushing back into a relationship with an ex often leads to more heartbreak. Instead of jumping back into romance, Haley and Luke should take things slowly. Start by spending time together platonically, without expectations or physical intimacy. Make sure you can interact in a healthy, positive way before considering dating again. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to reconciliation.

Don't Ignore Red Flags

Past behavior can predict future behavior. Haley and Luke can't ignore warning signs or major incompatibilities that caused issues before. Haley needs to ask herself if she tends to get bored easily and seek excitement outside her relationships. Does Luke have trust issues rooted in his past? Recognizing these red flags can prevent history from repeating itself.

Consider Counseling

Speaking to a professional counselor, either individually or as a couple, could really help Haley and Luke work through their emotional baggage. An objective third party can help identify unhealthy patterns in their relationship and give tools to communicate effectively and rebuild intimacy. Haley may still have grief about her mom. Luke may have deep resentment toward his dad. Counseling provides a neutral space to air these issues.

Focus on The Present

The past is done and can't be changed. Haley and Luke will drive themselves crazy endlessly rehashing old hurts and regrets. Instead, they need to focus on the present. If they choose to reconcile, they have an opportunity to create new memories and a new dynamic going forward. They both seem to have grown and matured since they dated. Nurturing who they are now, instead of past versions of themselves, will help them find happiness.

Trust Your Gut

No one can predict the future. Haley and Luke can't know for certain if reconciliation is the right path or whether more pain awaits. But sometimes we need to quiet the mind and listen to our intuitive wisdom. If being together feels right in their hearts, Haley and Luke owe it to themselves to find out if their remaining spark can be kindled into lasting love. And if it doesn't feel like the right fit anymore, they need to walk away for good. Trust your gut.

Love takes courage. Deciding whether to give an ex another chance requires vulnerability, forgiveness, and emotional risk. My hope is that Haley and Luke are gentle with themselves and each other as they navigate next steps. Their story proves that love and relationships are often messy, complex and confusing. But if two people are meant to be together, an amazing relationship can rise from the ashes of the past. Wishing them both happiness, however that looks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I get back together with an ex?

A: Every situation is different, but proceed with extreme caution. Make sure you have both grown and are not just longing for the comfort of old habits. Take things slowly and focus on building a friendship first. Don’t ignore past issues and be willing to do the work to create a new foundation.

Q: What if my family or friends disapprove of me reconciling with an ex?

A: While you should consider outside opinions, ultimately this decision is up to you. Set boundaries with loved ones if they try to interfere or control your relationship choices. Follow your heart.

Q: My ex wants to get back together but I’m hesitant. What should I do?

A: Don’t feel pressured to jump into anything you aren’t ready for. It’s okay to need more time or suggest friendship rather than romance. You both need to be enthusiastically on the same page before reconciling. Trust your gut.

Q: How do I build trust with an ex who hurt me in the past?

A: Healing takes time. If you see genuine remorse and change in your ex’s behavior, it’s possible to become vulnerable again. But proceed with caution and pay close attention to whether words match actions. Forgiveness is key.

Q: Can a relationship with an ex really work long-term?

A: There are definitely couples who have reconciled successfully and built lasting love. But it depends on the individuals, level of commitment, and willingness to grow. Don’t give up at the first conflict. Stay present and nurture the new bond you’re forming.

Listen to Haley and Luke's story on That Love Podcast to hear their experience with an unexpected reunion between exes. Get more relationship advice on our blog.


Navigating complicated relationships with exes requires self-awareness, maturity, forgiveness, and open communication. Each situation is unique. Listen to your intuition and proactively work to build trust and a friendship, rather than expecting to pick up where you left off. Love can rise from the ashes of pain, but also know when to walk away for good. Focus on today, not yesterday. Though reconciliation is challenging, it can ultimately be rewarding when both parties are all in.

Haley and Luke's journey shows that exes can learn from the past, grow from mistakes, and maybe find their way back to each other again. But this takes courage, wisdom and emotional work. My hope is that their story provided insight to those trying to navigate their own complicated relationships. Wishing everyone out there wisdom and compassion - with themselves and their exes.

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