How Long Should You Go Without Contacting Your Ex After A Breakup? It’s Complicated
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 you know your ex probably isn't the best person to console you. Logic interferes with emotion, and it can feel overwhelming all around. Even once you clear your head a little bit and time goes on, you might still feel the urge to text your ex. If you've made up your mind to go for it, just how long should you go without contacting your ex after a breakup?
Honestly, it depends. Most importantly, however, "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.
On the other hand, if the relationship was healthy and things didn't end in a terrible mess, then reaching back out might be a different story. Still, Brenner advises that it's crucial to take a step back before hitting send. When it comes to your ex, lingering feelings may remain, so be aware of what those feelings mean for you before you contact them, he says.
"Generally, you should wait until the acute reactions settle down," Brenner advises. "In other words, 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. "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, understanding that reaching out to an ex too soon isn't exactly beneficial might be a lesson you have to learn the hard way, if you think that reaching out (no matter how much time has passed) might eventually bring you closure.
If you're unsure about whether or not it's been an appropriate amount of time before reaching back out to your ex, Brenner offers some more guidelines to consider. "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." Again, Brenner emphasizes the idea that it's important to wait before getting back in contact with your ex.
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.