Should I Talk to My Ex or Stay Away?

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated January 9, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Relationships can be complicated. No matter how healthy, each relationship may come with unique challenges, setbacks, or breaks. In some cases, relationships end, and you may desire to reach out to or reconnect with your ex. 

If you've experienced a breakup, it can be normal to think about your ex. However, whether you're ready to reconnect can be a significant decision, and you may want to consider a few factors before doing so.

Learn How To Reconnect With Past Relationships Healthily

Should I Talk To My Ex Again? 

Breaking up with someone can feel challenging, whether the decision is mutual or not. As 64% of Americans have experienced a breakup at least once, many know losing someone can stir up negative emotions. You may have broken up for a healthy reason, or perhaps your lives or desires weren't compatible. 

When speaking to your ex becomes a possibility, you may want to consider several options. Think about how your relationship ended. If you experienced a respectful, mutual parting, talking to your ex may be a healthy choice. If it was a separation due to abuse, unhealthy patterns, or painful emotions, you might consider staying apart.

Because each relationship can be unique, deciding to talk to your ex can be a complex issue. Evaluate your relationship, needs, and boundaries before making a choice. 

Ask Yourself Questions 

Ask yourself a few questions before deciding whether talking to your ex is healthy. 

  • How did the relationship end? 

  • How much time has passed? 

  • Why do you want to reach out? 

  • What do you want to happen? 

  • Are you in a safe place? 

  • Do you feel that reaching out is the healthiest option?

  • How will you feel if you don't get the reaction you're hoping for? 

  • Are you reaching out because you feel lonely? 

  • Is there something else that may bring you the same feeling as talking to your ex? 

  • How would talking to your ex improve your situation? 

Thinking through all the possible consequences before reaching for your phone may help you avoid unpleasant feelings or embarrassment if your ex is unkind or unresponsive. 

Consider what might happen after you reach out as well. If the attempt to connect goes well, what are you hoping for? Will you have an extended conversation? How do you hope to leave the interaction? These questions can help you determine whether you truly want to reconnect. 

Is It Normal To Reconnect After A Breakup? 

Not every couple that breaks up stops communicating. Some couples decide to forge ahead with a friendship after some time has passed or when both parties have healed. However, others find that reconnecting is not a healthy option. 

Some couples may find themselves getting back together, potentially several times, until they realize the same unhealthy patterns occur. Others might reconcile and heal areas of the relationship that were previously not functioning and stay together in a healthier dynamic. In some cases, you might not get a response from your ex, which can be normal. They might need time to process, or it could be that they don't desire a connection with you anymore.

After breaking up with someone, try to focus on how you feel, evaluate your needs, and (if applicable) tend to your family and close circle. Your ex is no longer your partner and may not be your friend, so try to take some time alone. Time without contact may facilitate healing, a healthier perspective, and a greater understanding and awareness of your needs. 

Leaving An Unhealthy Or Abusive Relationship 

If you were in a toxic, abusive, or manipulative relationship, you might decide against contacting your ex. These qualities ould carry from a romantic relationship to a platonic one. Additionally, those impacted by abuse may feel a need to turn to past abusive partners due to the cycle of abuse. Cutting off communication and ensuring you're in a safe and healthy environment can be vital. 

If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.

If your relationship was healthy and blossomed from an existing friendship, staying in contact can still prove tricky, as you may have already created space in your brain for this person romantically. Moving on may feel more challenging if they are still in your life. 

Learn How To Reconnect With Past Relationships Healthily

How To Decide Whether To Reach Out To An Ex 

Although reaching out to an ex can feel tempting, there can be unpleasant repercussions. You might hope that all future interactions with your former partner will end happily and result in a respectful, considerate conversation. 

However, your ex may not have made any personal developments in their life since you left. They could have the same behavioral patterns as before. Additionally, the reason you broke up may not be resolved. Conflict might resurface over time.  

Think Before You Act

Consider all your options and the possible implications of reaching out to your ex before you do. Remember why you broke up and how you felt in those moments. Did your ex do something to hurt you deeply? Did you realize something important about your personality or needs in life? There may have been an incompatibility that indicates reaching out wouldn't be a healthy choice for you. 

If you do decide you want to talk to your ex and feel it is the healthiest choice, start simple. Try not to jump into romantic or sexual acts with them. You might meet in a public or group setting to get a feel for the energy between you.  

Find Your Motivation Behind The Urge 

Evaluate your motivation before speaking to an ex. If you're finding it challenging to be honest with yourself or talk yourself out of an urge, you might consider speaking to a counselor. A therapist can guide you while you learn about your needs, boundaries, and hopes. They may also ask guiding questions to help you decide whether your motivations are healthy.

Not every breakup may require therapeutic intervention. However, if you're feeling distraught, upset, or firmly pulled toward your ex, it may be beneficial to have professional support. 

Often, urges to contact an ex may come up at the end of an unhealthy relationship and not for healthy ones. If your relationship was healthy, you might not feel the need to speak to the person, or you may still have them in your life. 

Takeaway

No matter your reason for leaving a relationship, if you're experiencing urges to reconnect in ways you do not determine healthy for yourself, it may be time to reach out for support. A therapist may remind you why you left or help you chart the pros and cons of reconnecting. 

After a breakup, if you're struggling to leave home or keep up with appointments, that can be normal. Services like online therapy exist to remove barriers to treatment for those who want help. Additionally, studies show that online therapy can significantly benefit those feeling lonely or isolated after a breakup or due to mental health challenges. 

Breakups often occur for a reason. Although it may be difficult, focusing on your health and growth might limit your desire to reach out to an ex. Connecting with a therapist is one way to focus on your personal growth. Consider taking the first step on a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples.

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