Going through a breakup with an S.O. is hard enough that most people don’t take the decision lightly. Before you call it quits, you probably spend a lot of time soul searching, thinking through the subtly unhealthy elements of your relationship, communicating with your partner in hopes that you can fix things, and psyching yourself up with reminders that you can rule the world as a single lady just as much as you can when you’re attached. There may be one choice that’s more challenging to navigate than breaking up, though — and it’s the choice to get back together with the same person you split from.

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According to recent data from online dating giant eHarmony, women are more likely than men to make the choice to break up and the choice to “recycle” their ex for another round of relationship fun. Per an eHarmony rep, 41 percent of the women who participated in the survey admitted to getting back together with a former S.O. — citing reasons like sentimentality, continued attraction, shared resources, and sexual access — compared to 36 percent of men. “Typically, it is the women driving to a certain destination in a relationship,” eHarmony’s Chief of Advice Jeannie Assimos tells us. “Women, in general, are great at making changes in their lives when they don’t see things playing out as they planned. But there are also women who feel like they might be able to change their [exes], so they might go back down that difficult road.” Generally speaking, Assimos recommends caution and “a long moment” of thought to anyone thinking about reigniting a relationship with an ex. If you’re still not sure whether or not you want to welcome a former flame back into your life, she suggests that you consider these 12 questions — six to ask yourself, and six to ask the other person — to help guide you through the tough decision at hand.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself

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1. “Why did we break up in the first place? Am I willing to go back down that road again?” If you haven’t taken the time to really reflect on the chain of events that led to your breakup, it’s absolutely critical that you do so before you give the relationship another chance. Even if it’s painful, you can’t skip this step. After you’ve gotten clear on the reasons behind the breakup, ask yourself if you’re ready to potentially relive a similar situation. It’s one thing to give your ex the benefit of the doubt, but if it happened once, it can happen again — and we want you to be emotionally prepared for that possibility.

2. “Am I just lonely?” Don’t allow your feelings of sadness or loneliness to be the primary reason that you and your former bae reconnect. Loneliness is temporary, but a perpetually bad relationship is, well, perpetual.

3. “What do I still like about my ex?” With a bit of distance from the original split, you will hopefully have a fresh perspective on your ex’s better qualities. Make a list of what you really like (or love!) about this person — then think about whether or not the person’s past behavior is consistent with those qualities. If there’s a disconnect between what you think you like about your ex and how they actually behave, you might consider doing a little extra contemplation before you pull the trigger on officially getting back together.

4. “What changes would I make this time around if we got back together?” You and your ex broke up once, so clearly, the relationship can’t continue the way it was if you’re going to give it another shot. Get really clear about what changes would need to happen in order for things to be more successful this time around. That way, when you talk to your ex (more on that later), you’ll have specific terms and conditions to discuss.

5. “What kind of relationship do I want now?” Your relationship with your ex taught you important lessons — for better or worse — about what you’re looking for with future significant others. Given what you know now, what does your ideal relationship look like? Is your ex someone who can give this to you?

6. “Are there other people I need to consider before I make this decision?” If you have friends or family members who were seriously affected by your split, you need to consider what it would mean for them if you backpedal on the breakup. How will your relationships with those people be affected once your former S.O. is back in the picture? If there are kids involved, this is an especially important question to ask yourself.

6 Questions to Ask Your Ex

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1. “Why do you want to get back together?” Just as you shouldn’t be the one to go back to your ex simply because you’re lonely, you shouldn’t want your ex to agree to get back together with you because they’re feeling isolated. Make sure that your former flame is into reconciliation for the right reasons.

2. “Why do you think it didn’t work out before?” It’s time to unpack all those icky feelings about the relationship that didn’t work. You might have your own thoughts and opinions about why the breakup happened in the first place, but before you take steps forward toward a fresh start, it’s important that you understand the other person’s perspective. This is a great opportunity for you to learn how you can be a better partner in the future (even if it’s with someone else), but use caution if your ex’s view of the breakup is wildly different from your own.

3. “Are you committed to making this work?” It’s not enough to want to get back together. Both parties need to be ready to commit — to show up for each other even on the difficult days when you find yourselves reliving prior hurts.

4. “Where do you see this relationship going?” If being without your ex for any period of time made you realize that they’re the one and only person you want to spend forever with, you’ll want to be sure that they feel the same way about you… Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for more inevitable heartbreak. On the other hand, if you’re approaching the situation cautiously and just want to have fun, you’ll want to be sure that your ex isn’t ready to take things super-seriously, either. Regardless of what your respective intentions are, they should match, so you can move forward together effectively.

5. “Can we agree to have open lines of communication and be honest with each other?” You’ve heard this before, but communication is key — especially in a relationship that’s already encountered challenges. If you and your ex are going to kindle the spark between you back to life, you need to be prepared to talk about concerns as they present themselves.

6. “How can we improve our communication?” We all could benefit from improving our communication with the important people in our lives, and never is this more true than in round two of a romantic relationship. Find out what your ex is willing to do in order to improve communication, and construct a plan together to make sure it happens.

How have you decided to get back together with (or stay broken up from) an ex? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)