How To Talk To Your Ex After It’s Over

By Toni Hoy

Updated January 30, 2019

Reviewer Denise Doster

People come into and out of our lives. Have you ever wondered why it's so much harder to talk to an ex after a breakup than any other relationship that you've decided to end? You keep telling yourself there's a reason it's over and that you're happy with your decision. Yet, emotions flood your mind at the very thought of contacting your ex. The relationship changed the minute that it ended and that means that you need to change how to talk to your ex.

Your ex shouldn't be your crutch and vice versa. It's time to create some boundaries.


Contacting Your Ex: Necessary or An Excuse?

Your mind is wandering, and when a certain thought comes into your head, you find yourself grabbing the phone to tell your ex about it before you realize that you're no longer together. Thinking of your ex and grabbing the phone is nothing more than habit.

However, you are now at a crossroads in your thinking. Do you need to talk with your ex? Or would making the call or sending the text really just be an excuse to re-establish contact?


Good Reasons to Talk to Your Ex

Depending on the situation, you may have a good reason for talking with your ex. Just be sure that your list of reasons is a short list. Here are a few reasons that might justify contact with an ex:

  • They have a family member or close friend that is ill or dying and you want to express your concern.
  • You have a family member or close friend that is ill or dying and you think your ex would want to know.
  • You have a specific question or need advice on a subject that only your ex can help with.
  • You would like to offer a sincere congratulations on an important life event, like finishing school or landing a dream job.
  • You need to return something that is very important to your ex.

Breakups are always emotional, regardless of whether they were confrontational or something that you both agreed on. Raw emotion makes it hard to discern your motives for contacting an ex.

It can help to talk it out with a therapist, like the professional online therapists at BetterHelp, who can help you set some boundaries and move forward.

Rules and Boundaries for How to Talk to Your Ex

Before you pick up the phone, think about your tone and demeanor. Use a tone of voice that is neutral, confident, and pleasant. Adding a little humor to the conversation can take off some of the edginess and awkwardness. Think about ways to make some small talk before you start the call. Ask your ex questions about things you know he or she is passionate about and use it as an ice breaker.


Conversations to Avoid When Talking to an Ex

In most relationships, both people are partially at fault. Don't bring up past mistakes or things you know that will cause hard feelings. Avoid being critical, the time for that has passed, so leave it there. Don't keep apologizing or compare your ex to current relationships. There aren't any helpful reasons for doing this. If you can't stop yourself from bashing your ex on social media, it's best to stay away from it for a while.

Be mindful of the fact that you won't always feel the way that you feel right after a breakup, and that your feelings will fade over time. Sometimes, it's just best to wait it out.

What if you and your ex have to see each other often because you work at the same place or your social groups are really interwoven? This makes things more difficult but not impossible. Always be mature. You'll never regret taking the high road and acting composed and adult-like. Just because you're thinking something, doesn't mean it has to come out. Keep yourself in check. Think about what type of behavior you want to have that will make you happiest with yourself in the long run.

What to Do If You Can't Resist Reaching Out to an Ex

It can be hard to let go of important relationships in our lives. Suddenly you have much more time in your life. How will you fill it? Instead of reaching for the phone to contact your ex when you're feeling down or bored, view this newfound gap in your life as an opportunity. Are their friends you would like to reconnect with? An activity or class you've always wanted to look into? Or maybe you would benefit from just having the space to put your past relationship in perspective and think about what you'd like to see in your future. The period after a break up can be a good chance to do all these things.

What If Your Ex Keeps Contacting You?

Does it seem like your ex is looking for reasons to stay in contact with you? He or she might be reevaluating their decision to break up. How do you feel about this? If you are reconsidering the split as well, think hard before making any moves in the direction of getting back together. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself before thinking about reconciling:

  • What were the issues that were deal-breakers for me in the past? Have these issues changed?
  • Am I wanting to get back together with my ex simply because I am lonely or bored?
  • If we got back together, are we both prepared to make the changes necessary for the relationship to work this time?
  • Is getting back together in my best interest in the long run? Will this relationship be healthy for me now and in the future?
  • When I think about us getting back together, what kinds of concerns do I have?
  • Do I really want to put the emotional time and effort into investing in this person again? Or would I really rather have a fresh start with someone else?
  • What do the trusted people in my life think about the idea of me resuming this relationship? Do they think this is a good idea or a bad one?
  • Am I comfortable being on my own? If not, why not?
  • If I'm thinking more with my head than my heart, what would my decision be?

Break ups are never easy. After having been so close with someone, then having that relationship end, it can be difficult to know how, or if, to communicate with them again. Think about the kind of person you want to be. What kinds of behaviors will help you get there? Are you sabotaging your efforts by staying in touch with an ex when you really need to let go? Only you know the answers to these questions, so take the time and be honest with yourself. Listen to the advice of people who love you and want the best for you. Consider talking with a counselor for an objective outside perspective. Then move on in the direction that works best for you.

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