I think, for many, the hardest part about a breakup is that you not only lose your lover, but you lose your best friend. Replacing sex is no big deal, but replacing your best friend, the person who probably knows you better than anyone else in the world, is difficult AF. Because of this, when a relationship comes to an end, there’s a need to hang on to those pieces or, depending on how the breakup came about, rekindle what was once there. But since it’s safe to assume you broke up for a reason, is it ever a good idea to reach out to an ex and start a conversation again?
“Talking to your ex is a tricky subject,” Licensed Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Rhodes tells Bustle. “One may choose to re-engage in hopes of getting back together or it accidentally happens.”
Then that raises the question: Do you really want to get back together? I had one ex whom I would reach out to every couple months. I had no desire to get back together with him, but missed him so much and wanted him back in my life, that I’d come up with any reason to email him. I’d actually have to restrain myself on a weekly basis from contacting him because, as anyone who misses their ex knows, it’s really easy to come up with reasons to contact an ex, like REALLY easy. But just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean you should do it.
Here are seven times when you should absolutely not talk to your ex, according to Dr. Jennifer Rhodes.
1. You Just Broke Up
If there’s ever a completely horrible time to talk to your ex, it’s definitely right after your breakup. I mean, let those wounds at least begin to heal before you start pouring salt all over them. “You need at least 30 days of no contact to process the emotions connected to this relationship,” says Dr. Rhodes. “If the breakup is real, I suggest trying very hard not to re-engage for a period of time.”
2. You’re Drunk
Um, nope. Don’t do it. In fact, drunk texting an ex, for whatever reason — to beg for another chance, to yell, to cry, to pass blame — is the epitome of a bad idea and the worst possible time to talk to an ex. If you’re going out with your friends and you think you might feel the need to text or call your ex later on, after you’ve had a few too many, then give your phone to one of your friends before the night even starts or delete their number.
3. You’re Not Sure About Your Intentions
Maybe you’re not sure why you want to talk to your ex — like, what exactly are you looking for? To get back together? To cry to them about how much you miss them? For comfort? To yell at them for “ruining” your life? If you think, for even a second, that the result of contact them is going to induce a negative emotional reaction, Dr. Rhodes suggests you just steer clear of them all together. Not just in talking, but in keeping your physical distance, too.
“If you cannot walk into a room and hold it together when you see him or her, it is best to not have contact until such time you no longer have such a reaction,” she says. What this also means is taking a break from mutual friends for awhile.
4. You’re Feeling Lonely
We all feel lonely sometimes; it happens. No matter how down in the dumps you are, don’t cave and reach out to your ex. You have friends and family to turn to when loneliness strikes, so find solace in them instead.
5. You’re Second-Guessing Your Reasons To Contact Them
Whether or not we choose to listen to it, there’s a little thing inside all of us called intuition. Intuition, if we actually acknowledge it, can save us a lot of problems. “If you know in your gut it's not the right thing to do [then don’t contact them],” says Dr. Rhodes. Instead, she suggests taking a trip by yourself.
“If there is any hope that the two of you will get back together, focusing on your own life is necessary prior to re-establishing any contact. Travel can be incredibly therapeutic.” As someone who leaves the country after every breakup, I agree with this one wholeheartedly.
6. You’ve Just Started Dating Someone New
As much as you might feel the need to throw it in your ex’s face that you’ve moved on (although contacting them does prove otherwise), restrain yourself. Talking to your ex at this point isn’t just proof that you’re still hung-up on them, but it will open the doors to playing the comparison game between the new person you’re dating and your ex. And, since we tend to romanticize the past, conveniently forgetting all the shit, you end up not giving this new person in your life a real chance. It’s not just unfair to them, but unfair to you, too.
7. If Your Ex Was Abusive In Any Way
This one should just be a given, but just in case, Dr. Rhodes says no way, no how is it ever a good idea to contact your ex if this is the case. “If your ex was abusive in any way — no further contact is recommended,” she says. “In cases of abuse or domestic violence (and yes, destroying someone’s property in a fit of rage counts) it is best to involve the police and make sure you keep yourself safe.”
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