Whenever I go through a bad breakup, I always remind myself that no matter how much it hurts right now, there will come a time when I'll be completely over them, off living my best life, and they (like clockwork) will most likely pop back up and beg for forgiveness. That's when I get the pleasure of saying, “thank u, next,” and it's glorious. Sound familiar? If you're ready to talk to your ex again or pursue a friendship, that's great! If not, that's totally OK, too. But it helps to know how to nicely turn down an ex when they slide back into your DMs and inevitably reach out months (or even years!) later.
Your first instinct may just be to say "lol" and hit the block button, which is fine, too, since you owe them nothing. However, it's also totally possible to be diplomatic while still making it very clear that the door is closed — for good. Or at least until you're ready to open it again. To help break down when and how to shut down an ex nicely, I reached out to the experts. Here is how they say to best handle the situation in a way that will both let them know you're not interested and still keep it classy.
When exes tend to pop back up.
According to Diana Dorell, intuitive dating coach and author of The Dating Mirror: Trust Again, Love Again, exes making an appearance months or years after a breakup isn’t rare. “It is more common than we think,” she tells Elite Daily. “It usually will happen … when you’ve moved on, when you're about to take an important step in the relationship that you’re currently in, such as getting engaged or moving in together.” She adds that it might be because they're seeking closure. “You’ve moved on they haven’t, and a conversation needs to happen for them.”
Erica Gordon, millennial dating expert, founder of The Babe Report and author of Aren't You Glad You Read This?, tells Elite Daily this is especially true if you were "the one who got away” or the one who ended it. “If the breakup was a result of them messing up in some way or another, they're hoping you've forgotten all about their wrongdoings and would be willing to see them again,” she says.
Dorrell stresses that, regardless of the reason they are reaching out again, if you don't want to engage, you don’t have to. “It doesn’t mean you have to give into that,” she adds. In that case, you should let them know nicely.
How to turn them down nicely.
When deciding what to say, dating coach Erika Ettin tells Elite Daily that that the key to dealing with the situation is to focus on “tact and honesty.” She adds that there is nothing wrong with showing your vulnerabilities, but "it’s important to be deliberate about what you say so there's no way anything can be misconstrued.”
Dorell agrees, and advocates for a “less is more” philosophy for dealing with the situation. “There's no need to over-explain, to justify, or defend why you’d not want to see them, it's really none of their business,” she says. “What you can do is tell them, ‘I appreciate you reaching out to me, I want to let you know I’ve moved on and I wish you all the best. Take care.’ That really is all you need to say.”
When to stop worrying about being nice.
While being nice is appropriate in some scenarios, there may be instances when, honestly, you don’t have to be anything but honest. “If your ex doesn't deserve your kindness (ie. they were abusive, etc.), then don't worry about being nice and simply tell them that you haven't forgiven them and you therefore have no desire to see them,” says Gordon.
You can also ditch the diplomatic route if your ex is not taking no for and answer, says Dorell. “If you say ‘no’ a couple times and in a couple different ways, and they are still pushing back, this shows you that they do not respect your boundaries — or you,” she explains. “It’s all about their agenda and getting something that they want. If you were very clear that you don't want to get back together or don’t want to entertain that that, it's absolutely OK to block them. So block them on your cell phone, just shut it down. Block their email address just so that message is clear that you are not going to tolerate a boundary violation.“
Most importantly, you have to prioritize your safety over being nice. Period. “If you ever feel unsafe, then it’s totally appropriate to bring in the authorities,” Dorell says. “If you can, get a restraining order. Hopefully [it] will never get to that point, but you have to take care of yourself.”
Ultimately, the decision just comes down to self-care. What is the best response to your ex that will most protect your emotional and physical well-being? In most cases, being firm but cordial is fine, but only if they respect that tone. If not, try to remember that you don't owe them anything, including friendliness. They are an ex for a reason. So, take care of you, and keep on living your best, post-breakup life.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.