How To Talk To Your Ex After It’s Over: Can I Start The Conversation?

By Samantha Dewitt|Updated June 14, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Denise Doster, LCSW, LISW, CCTP

People come into and out of our lives all of the time. Have you ever wondered why it's so much harder to start talking to an ex after a breakup than any other relationship that you've decided to end? Is talking even possible? You keep telling yourself there's a reason it is over and that you're happy with your decision. Yet, emotions flood your mind at the very thought of contacting your ex. The truth is, the relationship changed the minute that it ended, and that means that you need to change how you talk to your ex. If you need help figuring out what to say, an online therapist could be really useful. 

talk to an ex

Wondering How To Talk To Your Ex -- After It's Over?

Breakup And The Discussion

Talking to your ex after the two of you have ended a relationship may be inevitable. Maybe you have the same friend group, or you go to school or work together. Maybe you share a child. In these instances, you'll be forced to talk with them, at least on occasion. But learning how to talk to them as an ex, and not as a partner is a crucial part of moving on with your life. You should:

  • Set rules and boundaries
  • Avoid certain types of conversations
  • Avoid too much contact

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

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

Good Reasons To Speak 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 short. 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 sincere congratulations on an important life event, like finishing school or landing a dream job.
  • You need to return something very important to your ex.

talk to an 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.

Rules And Boundaries For How To Speak 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.

Topics To Avoid When Talking To Your 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 interwoven? This makes things slightly more challenging but far from impossible. Always try your best to be mature. You'll never regret taking the high road and acting composed and adult-like. Just because you're thinking about something you'd like to say doesn't mean that 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 breakup can be a good chance to do all of these things.

What If Your Ex Keeps Calling 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 want to put the emotional time and effort into investing in this person again? Or would I 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?

Breakups are never easy. After having been so close to someone, then having that relationship end, it can be difficult to know how and when 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 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 outside perspective. Then, you'll be able to move on in the direction that works best for you.

talk to an ex

Wondering How To Talk To Your Ex -- After It's Over?

Outside Options for Help

When you're trying to learn how to talk to your ex after a breakup, it's important to look at why you're going to be interacting with them and what type of situations they might be in. If you don't need to interact with them, the best thing to do is walk away or simply say 'hi' or wave and then walk away. If you do need to talk to them, then you'll need to focus on healthier interactions, but keep in mind you don't need to be friends.

The first thing to do is to meditate. Now, in this instance, we're not talking about full-on meditation sessions where you're going to find a quiet place to sit and contemplate your thoughts. Instead, when you find yourself in a situation where you have to talk with your ex, take a moment to take a couple of deep breaths to prepare yourself. Even when they're talking, if you find yourself getting agitated or having trouble, just focus on taking a breath before you respond.

Make sure that if you know you're going to have to interact with them, you are fully prepared. That means going over what the interaction needs to be long before it happens. If you know that you're going to both be at an event, try to be brief and polite. If you need to do a child swap or attend an event for your child, then prepare to be friendly, but don't worry about being overly so. Preparing for what kind of things you say and how you are going to interact is going to set you up for success. When the moment comes, you already know that you're prepared for this.

Another important thing is to get your friends to help. Now, your friend needs to be someone that will support you and help you feel comfortable and confident, but they can't be someone who will be negative or rude to your ex. They also need to be ready and willing to be polite and friendly at all times.

If you're going to need help healthily interacting with your ex, it can be a good idea to work with a mental health professional as well. They can help you get through the feelings that arise from the breakup. They can also work with you on self-esteem, positive interaction, and more. But you need to know where to find them, right? Well, it's easier than you might think.

BetterHelp is a great way for you to get the help that you're looking for and to make sure that you can take care of yourself. With BetterHelp, you don't have to worry about getting to your appointments on time or walking into a therapist's office. Instead, you just log on through your internet-connected device from anywhere you want (as long as you have internet). From there, you're going to have no problem having your appointment and getting any of the advice that you're looking for in a comfortable environment. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

BetterHelp Therapist Reviews

"When I signed up for BetterHelp, I was in the midst of a major life crisis. I was seeking a compassionate, experienced counselor like Jillian to help me cope with the initial pain, anger, and anxiety. Also, I chose Jillian because, in her self-description, she states, "I'm a big believer in seeing life challenges, especially the most painful ones, as a catalyst for self-discovery, personal growth, and positive change." This resonated with me. I knew that I wanted my experience to be an opportunity for personal growth. I am incredibly grateful that Jillian indeed helped me grieve and work through the challenges of divorce and early motherhood. She helped me learn about myself and positively transform my life. She offered practical, specific tools to incorporate into my daily routine. She helped me to reconnect with myself and clarify and move towards my life goals. She offered constructive advice for interacting with my ex-husband and maintaining boundaries. Through working with her, I was able to care for myself so that I could be a mindful, present mama, and soak in the precious moments with my newborn daughter. My sessions with Jillian made a huge difference as I navigated this time in my life. I could not recommend her more highly."

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"It's like having a completely unbiased friend who never tires of hearing me out and never tires of helping me sift through the stories I tell myself. Julie has helped me see a lot of things in my life and my relationships that I would never have seen without her insights."

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You can have a healthy relationship with your ex, in whatever capacity you need. It just takes an understanding of what a healthy relationship means. Take the first step today.

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