After a breakup, it's normal to have a lot of confusing feelings. You might miss your ex but feel simultaneously angry with them. You could be feeling lonely but know your ex probably isn't the best person to console you. It’s even possible you’re second-guessing your decision and want to reconcile already. How long after you break up is it OK to get back together? While there’s no one answer for this, deciding how long you should wait to talk to your ex after a breakup depends on a few things.
If you’re asking yourself, “Should I reach out to my ex and try to work things out?,” then you should first consider how you two ended things. “It is not a good idea to contact your ex when the relationship was destructive and the desire to get in touch is driven by unhealthy relationship needs," Grant Brenner, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and co-author of Irrelationship, tells Elite Daily. If the relationship was healthy and things didn't end in a terrible mess, then reaching back out might be a different story, but Brenner still advises taking a step back before hitting send.
According to experts, here’s what you should know before reaching out to that old flame.
How Long Should You Wait Before Contacting Your Ex?
Someone who misses their ex and simply wants to reach out as a friend “should wait until the acute reactions settle down,” according to Brenner. As he explains, "When the feeling of wanting to be back together, the painful loss, the longing for the other person (if it is there), the erotic feelings, and so on, are still strong, it is more likely to be problematic to reach out to the other person." You might miss them, but Brenner emphasizes that reaching out could lead to more complications if you do it too soon. "During that initial post-breakup period, getting in touch is more likely to lead to difficulties, either hooking up and regretting it, getting back together and second-guessing it, saying hurtful things out of anger and disappointment, and so on," he adds.
If you're unsure whether an appropriate amount of time has passed before you contact your ex, Brenner suggests waiting until you’re certain their response (or lack of response) won’t hurt. "I think knowing one's own state of mind and emotions is more important than a specific timeline," he explains, "but usually it takes several months for most people to even have a chance of getting past the post-breakup phase to the extent they can contact an ex, if the relationship was important and the breakup difficult or uncertain."
However, if you are looking to get back together, then waiting may or may not be necessary, depending on the situation. “It really depends on why the breakup happened," breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast Trina Leckie previously told Elite Daily. "If it was over something really trivial, for example, you may be able to patch things up in a day or two. If it was over something more serious, it’s a good idea to take a month apart so that you have time to get your emotions in check and get clarity about the situation. Often, when people get back together too quickly, it’s just due to attachment, fear, and loneliness. Then, they get back together and find themselves arguing about the same problems within days."
What Should You Consider Before Contacting Your Ex?
Again, this all depends on your intentions and how the relationship ended. Never got the closure you needed after your breakup? Starting a convo with your ex may not give you the closure you seek, and it may only perpetuate the pain instead. According to Brenner, "The only caveat here is that sometimes it seems like we need to reach out, and find out what that is like, in order to move on successfully." In other words, you may need to reach out to your ex too soon and get a disappointing response in order to learn your lesson the hard way, especially if you think that reaching out (no matter how much time has passed) might eventually bring you closure.
If friendship is what you have in mind, then make sure this is a realistic and worthwhile goal before sending that message. As Samantha Burns, dating coach and author of Breaking Up & Bouncing Back, previously told Elite Daily, you can cultivate a friendship with an ex, but it takes time. "No one goes from lovers to friends overnight,” she said. “To fall out of love, there needs to be a period of usually at least 90 days with zero or very limited communication before you can realistically evaluate whether you can have a truly platonic relationship." If that time period hasn’t passed, then you might want to hold off — at which point you may not even have the desire to reach out anymore.
And of course, if you’re hoping to get back in contact with your ex in order to possibly reconcile, then you need to figure out whether you’re missing your ex or missing the idea of them. Leckie said to be real with yourself. "Do you truly have faith it will work, or deep down, do you feel like you’re fooling yourself?" she previously asked. "If trust was broken, are you going to be able to get past it, or are you going to keep bringing it up, only to cause more arguments? Are they truly the right match for you or do you just miss not having 'someone'?" When reconciliation just isn’t possible, then it may be best not to contact that ex at all.
When Is It A Bad Idea To Contact An Ex?
Getting back in contact with an ex — as friends, lovers, or just acquaintances — can be a good thing... if you've done the introspection, spent time working through your past problems, and both of you are willing to give it an honest effort. But in general, it may be better to get to the root of the problem before you decide to get back into contact in any capacity. "Both people have to take responsibility, accountability, and acknowledge what they need to change, and then actually make the changes," Leckie previously explained. "Both people have to be willing and able to let go of the past and concentrate on the now." If either you or your ex (or both!) can't agree to work on things together moving forward, then having any sort of relationship may not be the best thing for you.
The truth of the matter is that "to break up successfully, the intensity of the bond has to lessen, and shift away from a romantic bond," Brenner says. When you break up with someone, time can feel like it moves incredibly slowly, and the desire to reach back out to an ex can feel inescapable. "We don't just lose a partner, but we lose the idea of who we would have been with them and the life we would have envisioned together," Brenner explains. Breakups are hard, but even though it can feel like reaching back out to your ex will fix things, Brenner advises waiting a while before doing so — at least a couple of months.
Until then, keep yourself occupied with friends, family, and activities, and know that this pain will eventually pass.
Trina Leckie, breakup coach and host of the Breakup BOOST podcast
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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