Do You Want To Text Your Ex After A Breakup? This Is When To Put The Phone Down
Maybe you’re bored, maybe you’re a few glasses of wine deep, or maybe you just miss them. Regardless, your fingers are already hovering over the text thread with your ex's name on it, and you've already begun crafting your message. There are many legit reasons why you might be tempted to text your ex after a breakup, but sometimes, it can be a truly terrible idea. Like, doing shots of Patron on a Sunday night or letting your sister’s friend do your highlights at home level bad idea.
Which begs the question: How are you supposed to know when to put the phone down? As a general rule, it’s important to remember that there’s a reason why you broke up in the first place. Sometimes we forget this as time passes, which makes it much easier to romanticize the idea of getting back together with someone. After all, it’s comfortable — they already know us. There may still be a lot of love there. And it's definitely easier than trying to find someone new.
Still, hanging on to hope in a relationship that probably didn’t work out for a good reason is a risky territory. No matter how badly you want to text the ex, experts say these are some scenarios in which you should resist the temptation.
When something reminds you of them.
Oh, nostalgia. It could be that Ed Sheeran song you both loved, a rom-com you went to see together on your first date, a cologne you smell on a stranger passing by, or a sushi restaurant you frequented on date night. Whatever it is, when something triggers happy memories you had with your ex, you may start feeling nostalgic about your relationship and miss them, which then inspires you to shoot them a text. The problem with this is that many of us tend to focus on the positive aspects of our previous relationships and forget about where they went wrong.
“While it is tempting to reach out and say you remember the good times you had, it is not productive or healthy when you should be focused on moving on,” says licensed clinical social worker Melanie Shapiro. “While reaching out when reminded of your ex may feel like a good way to say you remember them — it actually holds back both you and your ex. Also, you may expect a certain response and when you don’t get it, it leads to disappointment.”
It’s natural to have an emotional response when something reminds you of your ex. Take a moment to acknowledge the memories and how they make you feel, but don’t get carried away with your reminiscing and allow it to convince you that you should rekindle things.
When you’ve heard that they’re seeing someone new.
Whether you've spotted some Instagram evidence or you heard it through a mutual friend, finding out that your ex is seeing someone new is a pretty tough pill to swallow. “What do they have that I don’t?” you wonder, while pondering a quick text just to remind them of your existence. There’s something to the notion that we want what we can’t have, and this is definitely true in cases where an ex seems to be moving on with someone else. Still, according to Shapiro, it doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate time to reach out.
“It can hinder them and their new relationship and ultimately hold you back from moving forward and toward the next relationship you are meant to be in,” she explains.
Sure, there’s a chance that your ex still regrets losing you. There’s a chance their new relationship might not last. The point is, it’s their journey — they have to figure that out on their own. Focus your energy on healing rather than trying to revisit the past, and before long, you’ll be ready to see someone new, too.
When they’ve asked you not to.
If your ex explicitly told you not to contact them, it’s best to respect those wishes.
“If your ex has told you not to reach out, the most proactive move you can make is to hear what your ex is telling you and to believe them,” says Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and the podcast host of Thank You Heartbreak. “Your ex needs to feel both heard, understood and respected.”
According to Trescott, many people are so dead set on getting their ex back that they lose sight of their ability to respect boundaries.
“The problem is their desire, and often times anxiety, prevents them from listening to what their ex has told them which is often to give them space and time to sort through their emotions or to let them reach out first,” she explains. “To their detriment, they wind up coming from this position that they must act on their desires in order to prove their loyalty and love, and that to do nothing is to appear passive and without care.”
Trescott advises keeping one thing in mind: not making a move is a move in itself. Besides, if you do have any residual hope that things will work out in the end for you and your ex, the best way that you can show them that you’re a supportive partner is to respect their needs.
When you’re only longing for what’s familiar.
Loneliness is a powerful feeling — so powerful, in fact, that it can inspire us to reach out to an ex because we start to wonder if being with them is better than being alone.
“One of the most intimidating aspects of a breakup is not knowing who will comfort you physically and when those desires will be awoken again,” says Trescott. “It’s easy in the evening and morning hours to feel those pangs of nostalgia, especially when you’re alone and afraid of how long it will take to be in a relationship of equal passion and comfort again. Instead of trying to override this discomfort by reaching out to your ex, in an effort to feel close again, remind yourself that you’re capable of creating a loving bond and genuine intimacy and that, in thanks to your relationship with your ex, you are going to prioritize passion in your next relationship.”
It may seem a lot easier to rekindle things with your ex than to try and meet someone new, but it’s important to remind yourself of why things didn’t work out in your relationship. Unless you both have committed to working on those differences in your time apart, it’s likely that you’ll just face the same problems all over again when you get back together.
“Rather than returning to your ex, or texting them only to find that they are now cold and removed, focus on the bond you want moving forward and the wounds you’ll need to heal in order to show up desirably and genuinely for a new relationship,” advises Trescott.
Being single might feel scary at first, but remember: there are tons of benefits to being unattached, including having more time to focus on your needs, goals, and self-growth. And ultimately, being single opens you up to the opportunity to meet someone who might be more compatible with you than your ex.
When you're looking to point fingers.
You never got the last word, and it’s killing you. Now, you’ve had plenty of time to reflect on everything your ex said or did wrong, and you’re itching to dump it on them. It may seem like this will bring some sweet satisfaction, but before you start furiously typing away, remind yourself that reaching out to the ex to prove a point simply isn’t worth it.
“If you noticed that they just landed a big break in their business or found out their in a new relationship via social media, do not try to minimize or challenge the authenticity of what they are creating for themselves,” says Trescott. “Making them feel small will never, ever make you look bigger.”
So instead of focusing your energy on breaking them down, work on building yourself up.
If you feel tempted to text your ex but know you shouldn’t, Shapiro says it’s important to distract yourself, whether by socializing with friends, going to the gym, pursuing your hobbies, or going out and meeting new people.
“Make active steps toward moving forward,” she adds. “Join a new dating app. Ask out someone you’ve had your eye on. Making steps toward building your future can feel helpful when you are tempted to slide back and text your ex.”
If you really feel stuck on your ex, Shapiro advises making a trip — a new setting may help to shake up your perspective.
“Take a road trip, book a vacation, or take time to visit old friends,” she says. “Removing yourself from reminders of your ex can be helpful and having a different physical environment can allow you to see new places, new things, and new people and also serve you in terms of building and improving the next phase of your life — without your ex!”
Just to clarify, it’s totally fine to want to text your ex. When someone has played a significant role in your life, it takes time to adjust to their absence. You may find yourself wondering “what if?” Curiosity gets the better of you, and next thing you know, you’re typing away and hitting send. But in some instances, reaching out to your former flame may only extend or exacerbate the pain. Ask yourself what your motive is in texting your ex. Be honest with yourself about how you’re going to feel if you don’t get the response you want. And remember: time heals all wounds.
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