The type of relationship you have with your ex is completely up to you. You might stay friends, occasionally check in, or completely pretend like the other doesn't exist. Whichever option you decide is healthiest and most reasonable, go ahead and go for it. But keep in mind, if you decide to reach out or keep in touch, there are some things you should never say to your ex — especially if you're in a new relationship.
Talking to an ex can be tricky business, but never more so than when a third person is in the picture. In this situation, you have to tread lightly so as not to rub all our joy and happiness in your ex's face, while also taking into account how your SO feels about things. It is possible to stay friends, however, if you go about it in a polite way.
"There is nothing wrong with talking with an ex as long as your intentions are appropriate," psychotherapist Kathleen Nelson, LMSW, ACSW, GC-C, tells Bustle. "Are you doing so to make the ex jealous? Or to make the new love jealous? Are you doing so to 'brag' how much better you are doing without them? These are not good reasons and you should stay away."
But if you're in a good place, have good intentions, and want to catch up, go for it. Just be careful and considerate with what you say, what you reveal, and how close you get, so you don't accidentally hurt their feelings. Below, a few things you shouldn't say, as well as topics to avoid when texting your ex.
1. How Your New Relationship Is So Perfect
OK, so you're head-over-heels for your new partner. But do you really need to tell your ex that, or give them the nitty gritty details? As Nelson says, "There is no reason to, no advantage in doing so." At least until both of you have moved on, and are ready to hear good news. Otherwise, your success story can sting a little.
2. All The Ways Your Current SO Is Better
Is your new partner better in bed? A better cook? A better listener? Avoid throwing this info in your ex's face — even if you're just trying to be funny. "Comparing is never a good thing if you want to avoid hurt feelings or damaging the relationship with the ex," Nelson says. "Even things like finances, job, education, and looks are not good topics to make comparisons."
3. Anything That Might Open A Closed Door
If you're in a monogamous relationship, avoid saying anything that might get your ex's hopes up. As Dr. Holly Richmond, somatic psychologist and head of the advisory board for Ella Paradis, CST, LMFT says, "If you are in a new relationship and happy, you should never say anything to your ex that seems ambiguous or questions your commitment to the new relationship. In other words, don’t open a closed door."
4. Details About Your New Sex Life
Again, details about your new sex life are better left unsaid — especially if you're comparing. "Anything that is specific to sexual prowess or physicality can be incredibly damaging to that person’s ego and confidence as they move into their own new relationships," Richmond says. "You had time to express your concerns about sex ... when you were in a relationship with them — the time has passed."
5. What Your Ex Did To "Hold You Back"
While it's OK to discuss where things went wrong, avoid blaming your ex for things that weren't their fault, such as goals you weren't able to achieve while you were together. (Same goes for talking about how your new partner is so much more supportive.)
"Even if your ex didn't agree with what you wanted to do with your life, it was your choice as to what you tried to achieve," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. "You are in charge of your life and can aim to achieve goals, regardless of a partner's support."
6. All The Ways You Could Have Saved The Relationship
Nothing would hurt more than discussing all the ways you guys could have stayed together, especially after you've already moved on. "You should have shared this information during the relationship," says clinical psychologist and The Web Radio Show host Dr. Joshua Klapow. "But when the relationship is over, reminiscing about what would have saved it does nothing more than to stir up old emotions. It can cause feelings of guilt and remorse, and is not helpful."
7. How Miserable You Are Without Them
If you're with someone new, Klapow tells me it's not a good idea tell your ex how much you miss them — even if it's true. Unless you're planning on getting back together, this isn't fair to your current SO. And it'll only stir up drama.
8. How You're A "Different Person" Now
If you've bettered yourself since your last relationship, that's amazing. But be careful with how you go about telling your ex. "This may be true, but it may also be what they were hoping for during the relationship," Klapow says. "It serves them no good and if you have become a different person, then that is a personal accomplishment — not bragging rights."
9. News About Your Mutual Friends
Breakups can be tough, and they often result in mutual friends choosing sides. Did you end up with all the friends, and rights to all your old stomping grounds? Then Klapow suggests avoiding this topic when chatting with your ex. Bringing it up is not only hurtful, but it's not conducive to creating a healthy, mature friendship going forward.
10. Your Deepest Thoughts And Feelings
Again, it's up to you to define your friendship with your ex, and to figure out what feels right. But keep in mind they are an ex, and thus no longer the first person you should go to when sharing your deep, dark thoughts.
You can tell them eventually, but with firm boundaries in place. "Be nice, be cordial, but remember that it's no longer the time to share your inner most thoughts and feelings," Klapow says. "This is about treating them as another adult versus a significant other. That’s what defines an intimate relationship that as over." Otherwise, things can get confusing.
11. Whether Or Not You Really Loved Them
Once you've broken up, feel free to avoid the topic of love. There's no need to discuss it further, or to chat about whether or not you actually felt it. "If you told your partner 'I love you' in the past and clearly had feelings, saying you never loved him or her to begin with comes across as petty and fundamentally dishonest," says certified counselor Jonathan Bennett, in an email to Bustle. And that can be just a tiny bit hurtful.
The moral of the story is this: if you decide to talk to your ex, or start a friendship, tread lightly and take each other's feelings into account. Once you have a history with someone, emotions can run high, and even more so if you've already moved on.