Q: I thought breaking up was the best thing, but now I want to get my ex back so bad it’s killing me. How do I make that happen?

A: Whoa. Hold on there, sport. Before we go after your ex, let’s have a quick chat, okay?

See, there’s this post-breakup phenomenon where—for a solid period of time—all you want to do in the whole entirety of your waking existence is be back with that person, no matter how much you know it’s not going to work out. Why? It bites when the person you love is cut off, cold turkey. The pain feels like this— “%*$#!!!!”—pretty much 24/7, and you think it’s never going to pass. But, in most instances, it just does. You move on.

SEE: 10 Ways to Get Your Ex Back>>

That said, it's hard to figure it all out. The trick is determining  whether you’ve got a regular case of the brutal Bad-Breakup-itis, or whether you actually made an epic mistake. Here’s the self-test:

Question #1: Do I want to win her back—or do I just want to win?
Sometimes wanting her back has nothing to do with wanting her, but rather it’s a way of proving your ex still needs you. It can be totally confusing to differentiate between the two, so here’s how to decide: Make a list of pros and cons. “Write down what you liked about her versus what you didn't like,” says Match.com dating expert Whitney Casey. “If the list of the pros isn’t longer than the list of cons, let's stop the exercise here.” In that case, go play pick-up basketball or video games with your buddies instead of re-opening that can of Relationship Fail. You need a challenge… just not this one.

Question #2: Can I identify the reason this relationship headed South?
If you can’t pinpoint the issues that caused the rift in the first place, you can’t get back together. So it’s time to make another list. “This isn't the blame game. This is an introspective look at your actions while in the relationship and how they may have impacted your partner,” Casey says. “Pick the top three things from that list that you earnestly feel like you can fix, like not calling when you are out, flirting with other girls, or arriving home late. These are small concessions that can make a considerable difference in your relationship.” If you don’t see any problem on your end yet? Then you definiteily aren’t ready to tango a second time.

Question #3: Can I own up to my side of the mess?
Imagine seeing your ex again: Can you look her in the eye, tell her you miss her and take responsibility for your half of your relationship’s demise—without breathing a word about her part in it? “This is the final gut check,” says Casey. “Are you doing this for the right reasons?” Tell her you would like to apologize sincerely. Go to a neutral place, preferably where there is no drinking involved, and bring your list from #2 so you can read it to her. This will let her know you really did your homework and are really ready to take action. Then, ask her: ‘Can you help me make these changes and give it another try?’” Say life sucks without her. Man up with a plan for change.

If you both agree to give it another go, then make a real relationship contract on that list of yours—and sign it. If you can’t stick to that, then say goodbye for good, no matter how bad it burns.

ABOUT THE HOT GIRL: Claire Austen is a 20-something freelance writer, sports enthusiast, and polka-dot-lovin’ everygirl trying to bridge the gap between what men know about women and what women wish men knew. She gives smart, super-honest advice about your biggest dating and relationship conundrums.