It's natural to think about all the things you wish you could have said or done after a breakup. Though it may be impossible to pick just one thing you wish you'd told your ex, thinking about how everything went down with an old flame can be the first step in getting closure. Don't get me wrong, calling it quits with someone can be totally disorientating. And whether you never want to see them again or you'd like to eventually be friends, being clear about how you feel can be a super important practice and help you to eventually move on.
Like relationships, breakups come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes, people realize they're more like siblings than lovers, and other times, they come to terms with the fact that they're better off living as perfect strangers that have no reason to interact with each other (@ me). Whatever the case, you know what's right for you as you heal your heart. Still, thinking about the one thing you wish you had said can help you move forward as you build new relationships.
I asked 10 people about the one thing they wish they had said to their ex, and what they said really covers it all.
1. Older doesn't necessarily mean more mature.
I wish I had told my ex that being a few years older than me doesn't make them more mature. There was always a weird dynamic between us. They were so condescending all the time.
— Lucy, 26
2. Stop sending me mixed signals.
My last ex kind of ghosted me for a week and then eventually dumped me over a text conversation that I had to start. A few weeks later, he came into the restaurant that he knew I worked at and was super flirty. If I saw him again, I'd say to drop it with the mixed signals. It wasn't cute — it was really confusing and terrible.
— Cora, 24
3. Say it to my face.
I was seeing someone for months. Months. One day, he literally fell off the face of the earth. The sex was good. I never asked him for anything. We never fought about anything, and I never thought something was wrong. For months after, I was so nervous that I would run into him somewhere, so I stopped going to all the places that I liked going to. It's been a year now, and honestly, I would love to face him just to hold him accountable. I just want him to have to explain himself to my face.
— Liz, 25
4. I wish you well.
Honestly, I would just say that I hope they got the support and help they needed. They clearly couldn't get that from me.
— Phoebe, 21
5. I hope you've learned some things.
It wasn't until college that I realized that my high school boyfriend was super closed-minded. He got mad when I didn't shave, and he thought going down on me was 'gross.' I hope he's learned more about respecting women's bodies.
— Bekka, 23
6. I hope you figured it out.
I dated someone who said they were looking for a serious relationship. We established that they weren't seeing other people. Then suddenly, they got super distant and said they felt strange being 'obligated' to do things with me. I never intended to make them feel 'obligated' to do anything. I just wanted them to be a part of my life. I think we had different ideas of what a serious relationship meant. I hope they figured out what it was they were looking for and got better at articulating that to people.
— Hanna, 24
7. We weren't a match.
At the time, we were so in love that when it ended, we had tried everything to force it back together. I think we put so much pressure on ourselves. I would say that we just weren't a match and that's OK.
— Jo, 26
8. Do you remember me?
I see my ex around all the time. They pretend that I don't exist when I see them, but they'll like all my stuff on the internet. I think if I were braver, I would just ask if they remember me.
— Aly, 20
9. Thank you.
Years later, I can look back and say that that was a really sweet first love. I think I would just thank them and hope the best for them.
— Jenna, 24
10. I regret how it ended.
I don't want to get back together, but I could have ended things a little, nicer. I would extend the olive branch and apologize for how I acted.
— Victoria, 22
If you think talking to your ex would be helpful, try reaching out to them about how you feel. Of course, if you never want to see them again, ending your lines of communication is OK, too. No matter how you move on from love, honoring yourself after a breakup is the best way to put the ex in excellent.