I – like many others – am a creature of habit. I crave familiarity, comfort, predictability and routine.
Boring? Sure. Comforting? Absolutely.
Because of this mentality, breakups have always been particularly hard for me.
The idea of completely cutting off contact with someone who was part of my routine and part of what I pictured for my future? The notion of having to enter the unfamiliar dating pool again? The thought of not knowing what my daily life is going to look like anymore?
Well, it freaks me out.
I've had plenty of heartbreak over the past few years. So, I've learned that – for better or for worse – this complete upheaval of your routine and overwhelming sense of discomfort is where the real growth happens.
It's a chance for you to figure out who you are in the present, without any distractions. It's a time to deeply connect with friends and family, and it's a great chance for you to pursue something new, thanks to all the free time you have.
But despite all that being said, I've more than once – and much to my personal shame, really recently – reached out to exes, simply to feel that sense of comfort and control. Ninety percent of the time, this contact has inevitably led to confusing breakup sex, hurt feelings, and an even greater sense of loneliness, discomfort, and heartbreak.
Is it always bad to reach out to an ex, though? Definitely not.
If you're reaching out for the right reasons, contacting an ex can reestablish a friendship and help with closure. And that real growth you're searching for? Well, that can happen here, too... if you're cautious.
So, before you reach out to an ex, ask yourself these five questions. Make sure you're reaching out for real reasons and at the right time. You shouldn't do it just to fill the void in your discomfort.
1. Would you lecture your best friend if he or she was doing the same thing you are?
Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend. (FYI, you should be your own best friend.)
You're always looking out for your friends' best interests because you only want to see them happy. Consider all of that for yourself, too.
Give yourself the same advice you would give your best friend if you were viewing your situation from an outside perspective. Look at your circumstances as objectively as you possibly can.
2. If he or she asked you to get back together, would you?
Make yourself aware of where you stand on this question, no matter whether it comes up or not.
Be totally honest with yourself. Is a reunion feasible? Does your ex feel the same way? Make sure your feelings are on par with your ex's if you do plan to reach out.
Do you both just want to be friends? Just keep in mind that things ended for a reason.
3. Is your ex dating someone new?
Is this a move of desperation?
Are you trying to show your ex that you're better than his or her new boo? Would you be mad if your ex contacted you just when you began seeing someone new?
4. Has anything changed?
A breakup means something was broken in your previous relationship. Has enough time passed for the “broken” things to change?
Are you sure those issues won't arise again? Realistically evaluate if anything has changed, and whether something can be fixed.
If nothing has changed, don't look back.
5. Are you lonely?
This is natural. Loneliness is a very real feeling, but you can work through it.
Seek out friends and family. Recognize the reason for your breakup, and realize that contact won't solve the loneliness.
All in all, what's going to make you happy in the long run? What's going to help you grow?
Figure that out for yourself.