Should You Text Your Ex On Their Birthday? Here’s How To Figure It Out
It's an age-old question, pondered for centuries by philosophers, anthropologists, sex and dating writers, and other great thinkers. You know what I'm talking about: Should you text your ex on their birthday?" While there isn't a one-size-fits-all "correct" answer, there are a number of factors to consider before ultimately making a decision. It's important to note that especially if your heart is still broken or you think you want to get back together with this person, texting them could end up with you (or them) feeling even more hurt than before. On the other hand, this kind of brief communication can also give you some closure in the relationship, or simply be a friendly way to stay in touch with an ex if there are no hard feelings between you two.
I spoke to Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist and relationship coach, about why texting your ex on their birthday can be either a good or bad idea, depending on your motives and your state of mind. She knows what she's talking about — she created the Your Happiness Hypothesis method, a solution to the relationship challenges that occur in today's tech-driven dating world. A large part of her method involves trying to place less of an emphasis on your ex, and instead focus your energy on empowering yourself. So if you're wondering whether or not you should text your ex on their birthday, ask yourself the following five questions.
1. What Are You Hoping Will Happen?
For her Happiness Hypothesis study, Silva conducted in-depth interviews with men and women between the ages of 28 and 73 who are active online dating app users. When asked how often they check their ex's social feeds after one month, 90 percent said daily. Once they have been broken up for three months, it becomes weekly for 40 percent. And even after the one year mark, some stalk the pages of their ex's new significant other.
So if you have an ulterior motive behind your "HBD" text, it's probably best not to send it. How do you expect them to respond, if they do at all? Perhaps this is your way of trying to restart the relationship. If so, you shouldn't get your hopes up. "Reaching out to wish your ex a happy birthday seems harmless, but only a small percentage of these rekindled romances actually work out the second time around," says Silva. Before pressing "send," consider what your true intentions are.
2. Do You Still Need Closure?
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 their most frustrating traits. Remembering what was missing can also help you define what you need from a future partner.
3. Are You Romanticizing The Relationship?
"Sometimes we idealize our exes because we haven’t found a replacement or don’t want to go through the dating process. It's easier to romanticize your ex and the relationship in those moments and make you want to reach out and wish them a happy birthday," says Silva. It's definitely difficult, but try not to reminisce about the 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.
4. Could You Be Looking For An Ego Boost?
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.
5. Are You Completely Over Your Ex?
Silva's Happiness Hypothesis study also found that 95 percent of young people reported remaining Facebook friends with an ex, and 10 percent continued to comment or add likes on photos and posts. Even if you've cut romantic ties, this person may still show up on your feed — especially on their birthday. If their online presence stirs up feelings for you, it might be best to block, unfriend, or unfollow them on social media. Social media stalking slows down the healing process and causes increased anxiety, according to Silva. "If you are constantly wondering what they are doing and checking their social feeds, that diverts focus from what you need to be happy and only focuses on their happiness without you," she says.
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.