Texting Your Ex Is OK In Only These 4 Situations, According To An Expert
Some of life's most perplexing questions — like, "Why is the sky blue?" "Is there a god?" and "When is it OK to text your ex?" — only hit us when we're completely alone. Picture this. You've just finished watching The Office on Netflix for the 12th time and you realize, alarmingly, that you have a lot of time to yourself now. In fact, you're bored and the silence in your tiny, empty apartment is uncomfortable. Like, did you know that your upstairs neighbors have nightly fights about whose turn it is to change the cat litter? You do now. That's how quiet things have been on your end.
Even the high from text messages about canceled plans doesn't do it for you anymore. You miss hearing your phone buzz and picking it up to see a familiar name that's just popping in to say hey. And, TBH, you don't care that you have to be the one to initiate the conversation so you do it. You text your ex.
I know because I've been there. I've sent those messages and yeah, maybe they worked at the time. I probably got the attention or company or comfort I was craving. But I've also been on the receiving end of those messages and all I truly felt was awkward — especially if I'd been happily moving on with my life since the breakup.
Is it ever OK to text your ex, then? Yes, of course, it is. If your split was amicable and casual texts back and forth don't set either of you back emotionally, it's OK. But this isn't the only rule. I spoke to relationship coach Chris Armstrong about when you should and shouldn't text your ex. Here's what he had to say.
Can you text your ex immediately after you break up?
You shouldn't wait too long after a breakup to text your ex if things ended cordially, according to Armstrong. "That creates awkwardness," he explains. "Instead, it's best to build a nice and immediate bridge between the relationship and a friendship."
Of course, that doesn't mean you should text them right away, either. I've walked away from breakups in the past only to receive three text messages from my new ex before I even made it to my car. I swear this is a true story: The breakup was at a frozen yogurt shop and my car was parked about 20 feet away. I felt emotionally drained — like I had just wasted my time on two hours of tearful conversation that fell on deaf ears.
Once things have definitively ended, it's best to wait a few days before reaching out platonically. Giving your former partner time and space to come to terms with the state of your relationship is a much more effective way to maintaining a healthy friendship with them than calling them up the night of your breakup.
Can you text your ex on special occasions?
Friends text each other on their birthdays, so why shouldn't you and your ex? That's Armstrong's stance, anyway. "If you and your ex are still friends, absolutely text them on birthdays and holidays," he says.
On the contrary, this is a bad idea if one person wants to be friends while the other is still heartbroken about the relationship. For example, if your ex still tries to reminisce with you about the good times you shared together or hints at the idea of you two reuniting later on in life, they're probably not over the breakup. In that case, it's wisest to give them space.
Wishing them a happy new year might send the wrong message about your intentions or give them false hope about a future together. When one of you is still reeling from the breakup, Armstrong says, a text or any form of communication will only derail any progress that person has made and prevent them from moving on.
Can you text your ex when one of you is in a new relationship?
Keeping in touch with an ex when you're in a new relationship is risky, but not impossible. Because there are now more people involved, it's important to consider everyone's feelings. Armstrong says there are two times you should avoiding contacting your ex — when they are just starting a relationship with someone else and when you are doing the same.
That's not to say you can't be friends with them while one or both of you are in a relationship, but you should give each new relationship time to develop on its own. It's difficult to establish trust with someone new if you're still in constant contact with your ex.
Can you text your ex first thing in the morning or late at night?
Armstrong warns, "Texting your ex in the morning or late at night is something I would not advise. Not unless you have a really strong post-relationship friendship." Good-morning texts (other than those from your mom and your friend group chat) typically suggest that you share a more meaningful relationship. If I text you before I scroll through my social media feeds, it's serious. I mean, I certainly don't text those kids I studied abroad with every morning because, well, we're just not that close.
I'm with Armstrong on this one. He explains, "We all know what communication in the morning and evenings means between two people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship. It means good morning and goodnight in a not-so-subtle way, and you don't want to get those signals crossed with an ex." My advice? Aim for a much more casual 2:36 p.m. emoji-free message if you have to.
I like to remind myself of post-breakup text etiquette by immediately removing any identifying emojis and nicknames from my ex's contact card on my phone. I know it doesn't sound like much, but it's a visual indication whenever I open a conversation with them that things aren't the way they used to be. It always helps me adjust the timing and tone of my text messages.