To text or not to text? That is the question.
It's an age-old question, pondered for centuries by philosophers, anthropologists, dating writers, and other great thinkers. You know what I'm talking about: Should you text your ex on their birthday? Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer, as it totally depends on your situation (and your current relationship with that ex). This kind of brief communication could give you some closure in the relationship, or it could simply be a friendly way to stay in touch with an ex if there are no hard feelings between you two. Harmless, right?
On the other hand, if your heart's still broken or you think you want to get back together with this person, wishing your ex a happy birthday could end up with you (or them) feeling even more hurt than before. As behavioral scientist and relationship coach Clarissa Silva tells Elite Daily, there are certain factors you should consider before you say happy birthday to an ex. According to her, the best thing you can do is place less of an emphasis on your ex and instead focus your energy on empowering yourself. Yes, it may be their birthday, but you should put yourself and your feelings first by asking yourself these hard-hitting but helpful questions.
If you never got closure after the breakup, a happy birthday text could actually help you find it. "While wishing your ex a happy birthday seems like an easy way to start the relationship up again, it can also help you see very clearly why the relationship wasn’t ideal," says Silva. Sometimes, talking to your ex again is just what you need to reaffirm the reasons for the breakup, if only for yourself. Even a brief interaction can help remind you of your ex's most frustrating traits. Remembering what was missing can also help you define what you need from a future partner.
If your goal in wishing an ex a happy birthday is to have a strictly platonic relationship with them because they mean something to you, it’s definitely possible. 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 until their next birthday.
Sometimes, people idealize their exes because they haven’t found a replacement or don’t want to go through the dating process, and it’s especially tempting to revisit those exes on their birthdays. However, Silva suggests avoiding the temptation to romanticize your ex or reminisce about your relationship. "When you do that, you are only extracting the moments of the relationship you want to remember," she says. "You are recalling only the things that created an illusion of belongingness." When you start to think that this person should be back in your life, consider the reasons that you are no longer together. The cons of getting back together will likely outweigh the pros.
The feelings created by a breakup — like self-doubt, anger, rumination, and lowered self-esteem — can affect your confidence. "Sometimes, reaching out to your ex helps to provide some sense of security because of the familiarity and mutual growth you both developed over time. Knowing you can still reach out to your ex and possibly rekindle can provide you the ego boost you need," Silva says. If you could be looking for a confidence boost, it's probably best not to go through with a happy birthday text.
Even if you've cut romantic ties, it’s possible you still have residual romantic feelings for an ex, which can be cracked open by sending that birthday text. "It’s possible that one (or both) of you still has feelings and you’re having difficulty cutting the emotional cord,” Burns said. And if you're not entirely sure what your reason is for wanting to wish your ex a happy b-day, fret not. According to Burns, a good indicator that you're romantically motivated is if you get angry or anxious when they don't respond or take a long time to finally reply.
Breakups are never easy, but it's important to remember the reasons why your relationship ended in the first place. A happy birthday text to your ex might seem innocent enough, but if it's going to slow down your recovery time or prevent you from moving on, it's probably better not to send it at all.
Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and relationship coach
Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.
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