After you’ve cried in the shower,
contemplated a major career change, and come dangerously close to cutting your own bangs, you might be finally ready to reach out to your ex. Whether you’re trying to start things up again or just want them to stop using your mom’s Hulu account, knowing how to text an ex can help you navigate the awkwardness.
Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear , if you find yourself thinking “Should I text my ex?,” it’s important that you know why. “When you are clear on your goals and needs, you will be able to be clear with your ex on what you are seeking,” Dr. Manly tells Bustle. “If your ex has needs that are aligned with yours, the outcome can be very positive in the short term and the long term.”
Are you tired of not being able to send them funny memes and want to
start a friendship? Do you still sleep in their shirt and daydream about getting married in a converted warehouse? Are you trying to make out? Whatever the case, being transparent about your intentions before hitting send can help you have a more productive conversation with your ex. Keep in mind that in some of these situations, they may not want to reply to you — and that’s OK.
Below, 36 things to say to your ex in a text, based on the reason you’re reaching out.
If You Want To Reconnect...
If you’re looking to
reconnect in a platonic way (or want to see if they’re still into you), sending a friendly text about a life event or something you used to talk about is an easy way to get the conversation started. Not every breakup calls for complete separation, and if that’s the case for you, reconnecting with your ex by sending a friendly text can be totally fine, according to Alexandra Emery, PhD, a licensed psychologist.
“Sometimes breakups occur because it was truly a ‘wrong place, wrong time’ situation, rather than a deep-seated problem in the relationship,” Emery previously told Bustle. “A text may be a good place to start because the stakes are low.” Sending a casual message, like the ones below, is a way to test the waters and see
how your ex feels about you two reconnecting. “I finally read that Joan Didion book you were always talking about. Should have known it would be amazing. Hope you’re well.” “If you’d be down, I’d love to get a friendly drink soon. It would be nice to hear what you’re up to.” “Hey, I’ve been looking at your garden on IG, and I’m impressed. I’d love to chat on the phone sometime if you’re down.” “OK, so the most dad comment of all time, but you popped up on my LinkedIn the other day. Congrats on the promotion! It’s well deserved.” “Hey! I’m in Chicago this weekend for a work thing and thought I’d see if you wanted to get coffee and catch up.” “Are you going to Elliott’s birthday party next week? We should say hi!” If You Need To Apologize...
Breakups don’t always bring out the best in us. But if some time has passed and you’ve changed your perspective, you may want to reach out. If you’re contacting your ex to apologize, try to keep things short and simple. There’s no need to play the blame game or exchange too many pleasantries — especially if your ex doesn’t want to chat.
If you feel like you need to apologize, own up to your part in the breakup and give them the space to talk if they want to. “After you’ve said your piece, invite your ex to share anything they might feel they’d like to get off their shoulders,”
Sarah Falk, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker, previously told Bustle. Express what you did wrong, say you’re sorry, and wish them well moving forward. You might even be able to get some shared closure on the breakup. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened between us, and I’m sorry for how I acted. You didn’t deserve that.” “Hey, I just want to say I’m sorry about everything that happened between us. I was really going through it and didn’t communicate well.” “Hi, I was talking to Claire today and just remembered that summer everything went down. I’m so sorry for how I treated you, and I wish you all the best moving forward.” “Hey, just wanted to say sorry. I totally blew it when we were together and it wasn’t fair to you.” “I’ve been reflecting on everything that went wrong with us lately and I just wanted to apologize to you. If you ever want to talk about it or ask any questions of me, I’m open to it.” “Hey, no pressure to respond to this, but I just wanted to say I’m truly sorry for the way it all went down with us.” When You’re Trying To Hook Up...
If you’re trying to
hook up with your ex, keep things short and flirty without going over the top. Jumping in with a steamy pic definitely isn't the best move. If you find yourself thinking “I want to text my ex,” remember that not everyone is going to have a Bennifer 2.0 arc. Even if you don’t necessarily want to get back together with your ex, be conscious about how they might feel about the situation, too.
And as licensed therapist
Heidi McBain, MA, LPC, RPT, previously told Bustle, check in with yourself to make sure you’re not jumping back into something that is unhealthy. "Make sure you have taken some time to work on yourself and gain a better perspective about what happened and your part in it, so you do not repeat the same patterns again and again with this same partner," McBain said. That being said, if you and your ex are on good terms and are open to hooking up, go for it. “OK, I see you finally let your hair grow out. You’re looking good.” “I’ve been thinking about you lately.” “I’d love to meet for drinks and see where things go.” “Are you seeing anyone?” “What are you up to tonight? Want to swing by my place?” “Hey, it’s been a minute. Is that offer you made to hang out still available?” When You’re Generally Checking In...
Maybe you don’t really know what type of relationship you want with your ex, but you know
you miss hearing from them and genuinely want to know how everything is going. Just keep in mind that they might not want to reply based on how things ended or how they are choosing to heal from the split. "Reach out when you are ready, but don't expect a response," Shan Boodram, author, certified sex educator, and host of Facebook Watch's , previously told Bustle. "Everyone is entitled to their own method of mending.” Make Up or Break Up
When you’re trying to generally check in, send a casual, low stakes text about a recent event or shared experience.
“I’ve been dying to ask, how is your dog? Truly what I miss most.” “Your mom still sends me recipes for sangria. Please send her my best. How is your family?” “Hey, what happened with that job you applied for?” “Hey, I know it’s been a minute but I was thinking about you the other day and just wanted to check in. No pressure, but I would love to talk on the phone sometime.” “Just saying hi, I hope that all is going well with you.” “I saw your sister had her baby! Congrats on being an aunt! How is everything these days?” To Get Them Off Your Netflix Account (Or To Get Your Stuff Back)...
In a perfect world, you’d never have to talk to your ex again if you didn’t want to, but in this world, you may need to get your shoes back. When you’re not trying to chat but you logistically need something from your ex, keep things polite but firm. Ask for what you need and let them know your plans for getting it back.
That being said, if they are unresponsive, sometimes you have to cut your losses and
move on by removing them (and maybe a thing or two of yours) from your life, even if it is incredibly frustrating. “Turn your attentions to other important intimate and valued relationships, and engage with them instead,” Dr. Gail Saltz, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the podcast, previously told Bustle. “Focusing on yourself and finding the right relationship fit helps rebuild any weakened self-esteem you may be feeling after the breakup.” After all, passwords can be changed and new things can be bought. How Can I Help? “Hey, this is a little awkward, but are you still on my family’s HBO Max account? My dad’s been complaining about his shows getting messed up.” “I’m going to be in your neighborhood next week for a dentist appointment, could you leave my Sally Rooney book in the mailbox?” “Hi, my mom isn’t renewing the Apple TV+ subscription...just wanted to let you know to get your last Ted Lasso marathon in.” “Hey, if I Venmo you can you send me the jeans I left at your place? You know how hard it is for me to find pants I like, I wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important lol.” “Hi! It’s been a while, but do you think you could drop off my green sunglasses? I need them for a party. I can also swing by to pick them up if you leave them out front.” “Hey, I hope you understand that I’m changing my Apple TV password. Just wanted to give you a heads up.” When You Want To End Contact For Good...
If you’re just trying to let the past stay in the past,
set your boundaries unapologetically. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to end conversation permanently with an ex for your own healing journey — just make sure you communicate it. "Be honest and upfront without being cruel," Pricilla Martinez, dating and life coach, previously told Bustle. "Strike a balance between being kind and firm, but be clear. If you’re leaving room for interpretation, you’re not helping them get the closure they need." “I need some space and I think the best thing for me is if we don’t talk anymore.” “I’m not comfortable talking to you and am asking you to respect that.” “I’m not over it and I’m not ready to be friends.” “I wish you the best, but I don’t think we should be in contact.” “This will be the last text I send you, please respect this boundary.” “Separation is what I need right now, so I’m not going to talk to you anymore. Thanks for understanding.” Sources: Dr. Carla Marie Manly , clinical psychologist and author of Joy from Fear Alexandra Emery, PhD , a licensed psychologist Sarah Falk , LCSW. a licensed clinical social worker Heidi McBain , MA, LPC, RPT, licensed therapist Shan Boodram, author, certified sex educator, and host of Facebook Watch's Make Up or Break Up Dr. Gail Saltz , M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the How Can I Help? Pricilla Martinez , dating and life coach
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This article was originally published on
May 4, 2021