To Text or Not To Text – Your Ex That Is

Relationship Rules
10 Jul 2023
11 min read
Should I Text My Ex? Proceed With Caution

We’ve all been there. A serious relationship has crumbled. Pieces of it are lying all over the floor, and some of those pieces may be from your heart. Whether it was a bad, nasty breakup of what had become a toxic relationship or one in which you both calmly decided to call it quits, it’s something that has to be gotten over. You are now the ex-girlfriend or the ex-boyfriend. And it’s never easy.

“There is no magical solution or quick fix that will make your heartache disappear overnight.”

Brad Browning, relationship coach and breakup expert

You recall all of the good times; you remember their funny quirks that made you laugh; some of the bad times are still in your head, including the breakup. In short, there are both positive and negative emotions floating around in your mind:

  • hurt feelings,
  • maybe some guilt about what you did wrong,
  • some serious soul-searching about your need to share responsibilities for the split,
  • memories of what had become an abusive relationship, perhaps on both of your parts,
  • maybe cheating,
  • maybe you made a mistake,
  • you’re feeling lonely and want them back,
  • a host of other possible reasons for the breakup…

Whatever the reasons, it’s been over for a while. And now, you have a sudden urge to text your ex. And in your head, you are asking yourself, “Should I text my ex?” Maybe the better question is, “Why do I want to text my ex?” In fact, these are two common questions people ask themselves after a breakup.

As you ask these questions, read through this list. You’ll probably be able to answer them and know if it’s a good idea to text your ex.

When You Should Text Your Ex: 6 Solid Reasons

It’s a good decision to go for texting your ex if you have a solid reason behind contacting them. In this case, choosing text messages instead of phone calls can work for you as it’s easy to keep from getting emotional. A phone call might show in your voice and words a former flame. But when you compose a text, you have the chance to read it over in the “cold light of day” and make sure that you have worded everything like you want.

Even if your reason is innocent, please wait a while after the breakup before you text your ex. Fresh from a breakup, no matter for what reasons, you are emotionally flooded, and you need to give yourself time for those feelings, whether good or bad, to have a chance to settle. Some say 12 weeks, but you have to be the gauge of your own well-being and how much self-awareness you have gathered to this point.

Related reading: How to Reconnect After a Relationship Break: 16 Tips to Function as a Couple Again

That said, let’s look at the reasons why you may want to text your ex.

1. You Want to Stay Friends

This is totally normal for lots of people. And after all of the initial emotions are out of the way, this is the one message that may resonate with your ex, if their emotions have settled down too.

You may be an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, it doesn’t matter. What you want is to establish a new relationship with new parameters. You don’t have to go into all of the other factors that resulted in your breakup. It’s over. You are ready for some other form of relationship – being friends.

The worst-case scenario? Your ex is still angry, still hurt, and cannot get to this point yet. That’s okay. Spend time doing your own thing and try again at some future time. Ultimately, you may become friends.

Should I text my ex? You do, if you want to say "Sorry"

2. You Need to Apologize

Maybe you were the one most in the wrong. May you cheated; maybe you had anger issues; maybe you even had mental health issues that you did not address. And now you hope that they will forgive you.

There is always a good moment for an apology text, and this may be it. Taking responsibility is a way to clear your conscience and explain how sorry you are.

You may not get an answer, but this is the best you can do at this point. With luck, you’ll get a response that they appreciate the apology. But will you end up friends? That remains to be seen. but if you want this, then wait a while and find another reason for texting your ex. One of the following may work.

3. Special Occasions/Events

There may be events that call for a text. Maybe you want to wish your ex happy birthday; maybe you always celebrated a weird or minor special occasion together (Groundhog Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc.). If you text to wish your ex a “happy” whatever, you may have a different motive. Maybe it’s an opening to spark a memory in them of a happy time and perhaps rekindle a love interest again.

Don’t overdo it. Wait for a response. If you don’t get one, wait until the next occasion. Texting more when you don’t get a response is never a good idea.

There are other life events that also merit a text message to your ex – a death of a mutual friend, for example. You may hope for a response but don’t push it with more texting unless it’s to make funeral arrangements, for example.

Additional contact after that, without responses, is just not the best idea right now. Consider that this person is still in pain, is still angry, or may have found a new girl or guy and is in a new relationship

4. Unreturned or Unretrieved Items

So, you lived together or at least played house at each other’s places during your relationship. They may have left things at your place, and you may have done the same. If they have not contacted you about their items, chances are they are not all that concerned.

But if you want to make contact and maybe rekindle things, you might use this as an excuse to see that person again. Think about it:

  • What is your true goal?
  • Do you just want to see them face-to-face and have a talk?
  • Are you somehow trying to keep a failed relationship alive?

These may be your goals but don’t assume they are theirs too. You do not know what their feelings are right now, and you don’t know what is going on in their life. So don’t get your hopes up.

5. You Have a Career Lead That Will Interest Them

Before you broke up, your partner may have been looking for a job or career change. And in hopes of starting a conversation with them, you are texting some leads you have found.

This reason may very well result in some conversation, at least a thank you on their part. And then, of course, you can wait a while and see if any of those leads panned out. When they talk about these kinds of things, people involved in a prior romantic relationship may end up in a platonic relationship.

6. You Want Them Back

If winning them back is your goal, tread carefully. And when you do text them, be very careful. Get as much information from relationship coach experts as possible, as you’ll need some solid advice.

Think twice about what you want to accomplish by texting your ex, both good and bad things that happened between you two. Only you can decide this, and if you don’t think it through first, you end up with the wrong message, even if you had the best intentions to begin with.

When you should not text your ex

When You Should Not Text Your Ex: 5 Red Flags!

If you have been on the receiving end of a one-sided breakup, you are likely in pain. Your self-esteem has taken a hit, and you probably waste precious energy doubting your own self-worth. Plus, you are lonely.

Even your best friend, no matter how supportive, can’t fill that hole in your heart. You miss the person with whom you shared so many great times. Left to your own devices, you are probably ready to pick up your phone and sent them a text.

Stop. In this frame of mind, you must back off and give yourself a no-contact order.

Here are when a non-contact order is the best order you can give yourself.

Related reading: What Are the 5 Signs the No Contact Is Working?

1. You Want to Tell Them You Miss Them

This is a huge no-no. And you don’t need a dating coach to tell you this.

When you text an ex and say something like, “I miss you so much and just wish we could go back to the way we were. Please phone me…I just need to hear your voice.” Ooof! Not only are you sounding really desperate, but you are in a position of begging. Way to turn your ex off while they are trying to move on.

2. Your Ex Is in a New Relationship

“This is pivotal in the grieving process. Most folks entertain a certain fantasy that reconciliation of romance and all-good love will resume. When you learn your ex has a new relationship, the ending and death of the fantasy must be faced, and the true mourning process begins. The depth of pain of the loss of love is usually felt at this point, and recovery is quicker because time has passed during the fantasy/hope phase. Learning that your ex has a new relationship forces you to move on with your life, and, painful as it feels, it is really a golden gift in disguise.”

Dr. Fran Walfish, psychotherapist and relationship coach

So, you have heard from mutual friends that your ex has started dating someone else. You are kind of devastated because you were so hoping you would get back together – kind of a fantasy you’ve been clinging to. But this is not the case to start something again with them. Let them live their lives, however painful it seems for you to accept today. You’ll get over that.

3. You’re Having a Tough Time in Another Aspect of Your Life

You may have lost your job, fallen out with your best friend, or failed a course. These are things you and your ex used to share, and you could always count on that person to be sympathetic and make you feel better. After all, that’s a big part of healthy relationships. You want that same conversation now.

It’s unlikely that you’ll get that conversation now. While you had shared responsibility for each other’s successes and problems before, that is gone. Your ex may be dating someone else and is in that role for their new squeeze. If you get a response at all, it may be something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m busy now,” or “I’ve moved on.” Or you may get none at all.

4. After a Really Bad Breakup

Relationships don’t always end calmly with a couple walking away with their self-respect and dignity. While is an old movie (1989), you might want to watch War of the Roses to see a bad divorce in the extreme.

If your breakup was bad, chances are there is anger and pain at least. You need to realize that it would be a big mistake to start sending texts when you are so emotionally charged due to several reasons:

  • Those texts are “out there” for all to see if your ex chooses to show them – even on social media.
  • They prove pretty embarrassing, and you could easily lose the respect of others who know you both.
  • It is possible that you will only raise the emotional flooding in your ex.

Neither of these is a good result. When relationships end badly, the best mode of action is to cut off all communication immediately. This isn’t to say you will never speak again, but realize that it may be a very long time.

5. You’re Trying to Make Your Ex Jealous

Why? If you are now with someone else, and things are going well, why would you need to inform your ex? Do you want them to maybe feel a little jealous that you have moved on when maybe they have not yet? And what exactly would you say? “Just want you to know I have a new love and am so over you?” What’s the purpose? There really isn’t a nice one.

There You Have It

So, should I text my ex? It depends, as it seems. While this may not be one of the most common questions people ask after a breakup, it may be weighing on your mind. Please review the points in this article and make wise decisions.

Dating Tips Author
Shelly Standford
After a devastating relationship breakup, I threw myself into the dating scene by registering on Hily. I had over 100 dates - some absolute disasters, some pretty average, and some that were actually great. So many stories to tell and insights to share with you guys!
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