Those who have dated to their heart's satisfaction often advise others to stick with "devil you know" rather than "the angel you don't know". But is there any wisdom in this?
With relationship breakdowns on the increase, what are the chances that you really are better off with someone you know?
"After a break-up, you hear a whisper saying 'good riddance to bad rubbish' and you can actually sit back and think that at least your ex is someone else's problem. But when you find yourself thinking about him without the anger anymore, but with affection, you might have lost a good thing," says relationship counsellor Stella Bosman.
First, the reasons for the break-up determine if it's a good thing to pick up the phone, says Bosman.
"If the break-up was caused by a misunderstanding such as mistaking his sister for a secret lover, and you have proof, then things could work out for the two of you," she says.
"But in a situation where you had valid reasons for breaking up, such as lifestyle incompatibilities, you know you have a problem. If your man stays in Alexandra and you stay in Boskruin and getting together means you still have to fetch him from his workplace in Kempton Park, getting back together would only worsen things for the two of you and reliving the circumstances can only make you resent your partner,"
But who are we to set the terms in relationships? Let's say you resolve that he is "The One" regardless of the number of babies under his belt and he opens the door for you to walk back into his life, what then?
Leave the past behind
Bosman warns to be aware that you do have a history, but you have to make a pact to start with a clean slate.
"Recheck each of your expectations ahead of time. This time make a list of points to discuss. Take it in turns to talk and then compare your answers.
l What do you mean by "a committed relationship"? What do committed partners do that people who are "going out" don't?
l How do you ideally see us once we're together, whether that's living together or married?
l How do you imagine things changing between us once we're together?
l How will you want me to be once we're together?
l What do you think is a man's role in a committed relationship? What do you think is a woman's role?
l What about the practicalities: Where would we live? How will we manage our money? Would I work?
If you share similar answers to these questions, then you've no big problems to tackle. You might, however, find you clash over some of these issues and have pinpointed areas that need tackling. You need to work to understand each other's expectations and to negotiate a deal that suits you both.
"No matter how 'in sync' your answers are, be mindful of the possibility to disagree and that you will be tempted to break up again. However, your experience has taught you otherwise and keep in mind the promise you make to each other."
Below are four of the most common problem spots, and some advice on how you can handle them:
l Blending lifestyles
The older you are, the harder it is to move into someone else's life or have them move into yours. Be prepared to allow each of you to have "private space".
Allow each other to spend time alone each day. Make sure you do things together, but that you also have the opportunity to do things independently.
l Ex problems
While you were away from one another, you might have acquired other "exes". Some find it hard to let go even if you tell them you have moved on. Make a deal with your partner about how you're going to handle your "exes".
l Coping with kids
The secret to avoiding difficulty is the same secret that underpins all strong relationships - communication. Talk about how you are going to handle your respective children. Discuss your expectations, especially how you're going to handle spending time with your kids.
l Repeating the same mistakes
If you start slipping into the same horrendous situations with your new love as you did with your old one, don't panic. It's not surprising you do that - after all, there's one major unchanging factor: you. But it's possible to change. - Additional info sharpman.com