Should I Talk to My Ex or Stay Away?

By: Corrina Horne

Updated March 23, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

Relationships are complicated. Each relationship, no matter how happy or meant to be, comes with a unique set of challenges, setbacks, and (possibly) periods of breaking up or taking breaks. You may be wondering, "Should I reach out to my ex?" If you've experienced a breakup, it's normal to wonder about reaching out to your former partner at some point. Knowing that, how do you determine when you should talk to an ex and when you should cut the cord?

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Talking to an Ex

Breaking up with someone is painful, whether you are the initiator or the injured party. The reasons for breakups are far too numerous to count, some issues frivolous and unnecessary, others absolutely essential and irrevocable. When the question of speaking to your ex arises, there are many factors to consider, not the least of which is the state in which your breakup occurred. If it was a respectful, mutual parting, talking to your ex may be just fine. If it was a tumultuous breakup, in which one or both partners felt betrayed, staying away might be the better path.

Because each relationship is so unique, asking whether you should talk to your ex is a deeply complex issue, and it must be evaluated and eventually answered only after a thorough analysis of your relationship, your breakup, and yourself. This particular issue often requires the help of a panel of sorts, comprised of your family and friends, as they can often share insights that you may not be able to see in the moment.

Preliminary Questions to Ask

Breaking up is never easy. Almost no one waltzes away from a breakup with a champagne glass in hand, toasting to his or her new life. Instead, the process of letting go is often slow and fraught with difficulty. Even new or shorter relationships can have an impact on your life, and the loss of a relationship as short as one month can present unique and difficult challenges-especially in a day and age when communication is usually constant and immediate via text and social media.

So how do you determine whether or not you should reach out? Ask yourself a few simple questions to get the ball rolling, and sincerely consider whether talking to your ex is a good idea. These include:

1. How did the relationship end? If the two of you ended on agreeable-even friendly-terms, reaching out might be okay.
2. How much time has passed? There is a consensus among professionals that reaching out to an ex immediately following a breakup is unlikely to end well.
3. Why do you want to reach out? If the two of you broke up, but you are still in love with your ex, reaching out could prolong the inevitable breakup process, particularly if your ex prompted the breakup. If, however, you initiated the decision, reaching out might make sense.
4. What do you want to happen? Are you hoping for a tearful reunion? A fight? Do you want to hash out what went wrong? Although it is reasonable to want some closure, your ex might not be willing to talk or might not be amicable in his or her speech.
5. Are you in a safe place? If you are emotionally or physically vulnerable, try reaching out to a trusted family member or friend instead. Reaching out to an ex without knowing the outcome could be harmful to your emotional health. If you are in a good place, reaching out might be less risky.

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Thinking through all of the possible consequences before reaching for your phone can help you avoid plenty of pain and even 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, think it through: what then? What is your purpose for reaching out? Will you have an extended conversation? How do you hope to leave the interaction? These questions can help you determine whether or not it is truly a good idea to contact your ex.

Effects of a Breakup With An Ex

Not every couple that breaks up needs to cut off all communication. Some couples are able to forge ahead with a friendship after some time has passed, especially after both have healed, while others do better if they never contact each other again. Some couples will reach out, only to reconcile and end up back in the same poorly-functioning relationship; some will reconcile and stay together forever, and others may reach out only to experience the pain and heartache of being rejected or ignored entirely.

After breaking up with someone, your first priority should be healing your wounds, evaluating your needs, and (if applicable) tending to your family. Your ex is no longer your partner or even necessarily your friend, so immediate communication is usually discouraged, Time without contact can facilitate healing, a more even perspective, and a greater understanding and awareness of yourself.

Communication After a Breakup

Although friends and family members may have differing opinions, health professionals agree: most situations require as little contact as possible between exes-at least for a while. This is especially true for relationships that were toxic, abusive, or manipulative, as these qualities can easily leap from a romantic relationship to a platonic one. The person who was the target of manipulation and abuse may be at greater risk for falling back into a relationship with their abuser. Because many abusive relationships rely upon communication to keep the flame alive, cutting off contact as much as possible is usually advised.

If your relationship was healthy and blossomed from an existing friendship, experts have conflicting opinions about remaining in contact. This is the best-case scenario in reconnecting with an ex, however, and may be the best reason to reach out to an ex, shared children or property aside. If you had a strong, healthy friendship prior to developing a romantic entanglement, you may be able to revert back to the friendship you once shared. Even then, though, staying in contact can prove tricky, as you may have already created space in your brain for that person to act as a romantic partner-this space is not easily reassigned.

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Thinking Before You Act

Although reaching out to an ex is certainly tempting, there can be many unpleasant repercussions. Ideally, all further interactions with your former partner will end happily and will result in respectful, considerate conversation. But any attempts at communication could just as easily result in you being ignored, accosted, or another form of hostile or inconsiderate behavior, which might aggravate a wound that is already struggling to heal. If you're asking yourself whether or not you should reach out to an ex, the safest answer is no; after all, a "no" can readily morph into a "yes," while an attempt to reach out cannot be rescinded once it is offered. Remembering why you broke up is an important step in answering this question, and it may be able to save you additional heartache and pain.

Learning Your Own Motivation Or Reason Behind Wanting to Talk To An Ex

One of the most important aspects in determining whether or not you should reach out to an ex is evaluating your own motivation. This can be a difficult thing to do because people often struggle to be honest with themselves about the "why" behind their actions or can find the "why" difficult to determine when they want something too badly to remain objective. This is where therapy can come in handy; ideally, a therapists guides you while you learn about yourself-you learn about your motivations, your needs, your boundaries, and your hopes, all of which can help you come to a greater understanding of yourself. With this information, you'll have a clearer idea about whether or not your breakup was one that warrants further pursuit of your ex or one that would be best left alone.

Not each and every breakup requires therapeutic intervention. Past breakups may have been easy, cut-and-dry endeavors where you broke up, moved on, and went about your life. If the question of speaking to an ex has arisen, however, understanding your breakup and subsequently healing from it might be easier with an objective third party. Few relationships that end on healthy, concrete terms prompt thoughts getting in contact with an ex. Usually, it is the difficult, unwanted, or unexpected breakups that encourage the notion of contacting an ex, and these breakups might have far more to them than a simple misunderstanding or easy separation.

Therapists can not only help you understand yourself better but can also offer you insight into your relationship as a whole. They may be able to point out issues in your relationship that were significant and even hazardous issues that you may have been willing to overlook when you were trying to make it work. This can be a painful process, but it's necessary if you want to heal and move on. Speaking to an ex in these instances can further delay healing and even obscure valid concerns. Below, BetterHelp users recount their experiences working through difficult situations via online therapy.

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Online Therapy with BetterHelp

"I've never been to therapy and so was really hesitant about opening up at first. But Whitney has just been so great! I signed up for BetterHelp because I was going through a breakup with problems I knew stemmed from problems with myself. I knew I felt unhappy in my relationship but could not for certain say why. Therapy with Whitney has been so great in helping me become more self aware and reflective. And, of course, the breakup was hard at first. But every day, with Whitney, I was able to feel a little bit better than the day before."



"Julia is a very open-minded, understanding, and warm-hearted person. She listened with kindness and without judgment. Her advice helped me tremendously through a bad breakup and ensuing personal problems. Her advice and understanding has been very helpful in guiding me to a healthier frame of mind."



Should You Talk to Your Ex?

Most experts agree: you should not reach out to your ex unless you hope to salvage a treasured friendship. The impulse to reach out to an ex, whether it is because you still have feelings for them, you are seeking comfort and familiarity, or you simply want to know how they are doing, is often a bad idea. All breakups occur for a reason, and these reasons are usually legitimate to at least one of the people involved. Although it may be hard, focusing on your own health and growth can limit the desire to reach out to an ex, helping you move forward with your life. BetterHelp is here for you every step of the way, if you want an unbiased, professional ear. Take the first step today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can ex-lovers be friends?

Whether ex-lovers can remain friends after breakup is really a matter of opinion and personal circumstances.  If you have been in a relationship with someone and you both agree that you are better off as friends instead of lovers, it may be possible to remain friends.  It’s important that you both consider your own feelings about the friendship part of a relationship and to decide if it’s best to remain friends or if a complete disconnect from one another is best. 

If you and your ex decide to try to be friends, it’s crucial to establish boundaries within the friendship and to be respectful of one another’s feelings if either of you begin to feel like remaining friends was not the best idea.

Is there a reason why you shouldn’t reach out to your ex?

Keeping yourself from reaching out to an ex can be hard, especially if you have spent most of your time with them or if your relationship lasted a long time and you used to talk to them every day.  While some couples can end a relationship and choose to remain friends, this is not always the case.  When you go through a breakup, it’s important to allow yourself time to heal and not talk for a while.  Before you break radio silence and starting to talk again, you need to consider a few things.

  1. Is your ex reaching out to you for communication? If your ex is not trying to contact you, chances are they don’t want communication or are ready to talk yet.  In this case, you should let take the time you need to heal and allow your ex to do the same.
  2. If your relationship did not end on good terms, you may be setting yourself up to be hurt again by reaching out to talk to your ex. Unfortunately, sometimes the best thing you can do is let go of the past and move on with your life.
  3. Who ended the relationship? If you broke up with your ex and now you’re feeling guilty or second-guessing yourself, before you think about reaching out to talk, consider how your ex may feel.  While most people believe that time heals all wounds, everyone heals in different ways and in different amounts of time and they may not be in the best place to talk yet. 
  4. Are you considering reaching out to your ex because you now think you are madly in love with them? If so, what changed?  Before reaching out to an ex to talk, think about the effect that contact will have on both yours and your ex’s heart.  Sometimes it is easier to avoid bringing more heartache by letting yourself and your ex health, rather than breaking the no contact rule just to make yourself feel better.

How long before exes get back together?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that exes will get back together.  In the cases when exes do reconcile, there is not a specific timeline for this to happen.  Some couples break up and after a time apart, find that they were happier together.  In some situations, it may be necessary to seek couples counseling to help work through issues.  Depending on how many issues need to be worked through, the amount of time it takes before reconciliation occurs may vary.

Will no contact make him move on?

The no contact rule and no talk rule is often used as a manipulation approach by individuals who want to get the attention of or garner favor from someone, especially an ex.  In some cases, this works, and exes try to reconcile the relationship.  However, there are times when going no contact can make your ex move on.  If you truly want your ex to move on and you want to use no contact as one way to help him do so, it is important that you do not break the no contact rule.  There may be times when it is hard to stay away; do it anyway.  No contact means no texts, no calls, no social media posts or messages.  It means NO CONTACT.

What goes through his mind during no contact?

Different people respond to no contact in different ways.  Some of the most common things that he may be feeling or thinking during no contact are:

  • Confusion: He may have expected you to text, talk, or call him by now.  If you want his attention, this is a good thing because he is likely thinking about you and wondering what happened in your relationship that leads to you being able to go no contact.
  • Regretting his behavior: If your relationship ended on bad terms that made you feel the need for no contact, he may be thinking about and regretting the things he did that contributed to the breakup.
  • Wondering if you have met a new person and begun a new relationship: If he has had no contact with you, then he may not be aware of any new person or relationship.  This part of no contact is one of the most difficult for a man.
  • What mutual friends can he get information from? Guys who are being subjected to no contact by an ex often try to find out information from mutual friends. They may appear nonchalant when bringing the subject up, but this is a common way to get information without making you aware they are still interested.

How long does it take for an ex to miss you with no contact?

Depending on the circumstances regarding the breakup, and the reason that one or both of you felt that no contact was necessary, the amount of time it takes for an ex to miss you varies.  Some people immediately have feelings of loneliness and miss their ex.  Others may experience moments of sadness or missing an ex that come and go.  In some cases, especially if the relationship was unhealthy or abusive, an ex may only feel relief when they go no contact.

How do you know if your ex is over you?

The signs that an ex is over you vary from one person to the next.  However, there are some behaviors that may be easily noticeable. 

  1. If your ex is over you, they will likely treat you the same as he does other women.  If they were not over you, they may put extra effort into being nice to you or trying to get your attention.
  2. Shows no signs of jealousy if you are around another person. Sometimes even the ex who ended the relationship will have feelings of jealousy if the other person moves on to a new relationship.  Even if the jealousy is not “extreme,” there will be signs if they still care for you or want to be in a relationship with you.
  3. They return your personal belongings and ask you to return theirs. Nothing says, “It’s over” like taking ownership of personal belongings.  If your ex asks you to return their things and is quick to give you your things back, chances are they are over you.
  4. They unfollow and/or unfriend you on social media. One of the easiest ways to keep a form of contact with an ex without having to talk to them or text them is to follow their social media accounts.  If your ex is no longer in your friends list or is not following you, they are probably over you.

How do I know if my ex still loves me?

Wanting to know if your ex still has feelings for you is natural.  A few things that may indicate they still love you include

  • Liking or commenting on your social media posts: An ex who is over you will typically unfollow and unfriend you.  However, an ex who still has feelings for you may continue to follow your social media accounts and will usually let you know in some way that they are “still there” by commenting on your posts or pics or at least hitting the like button.
  • They show up everywhere you are. If your ex always seems to be showing up in the same places that you go, they may still have feelings for you.  For some people, this is a way of keeping in contact with someone they still love while trying to not appear obvious.
  • They are always “accidentally” calling or texting you or trying to talk to you. If your ex still loves you but thinks that you don’t care or that you don’t want anything to do with them, they may try to reach out to you by calling or texting.  Even if you respond in a disgruntled way, it still gives them an opportunity to connect with you.

Why does my ex contact me when he has a girlfriend?

After a breakup, one of the most frustrating things to deal with is having an ex try to contact you even if they’ve moved on to a new relationship.  Of course, if you have children together, you have legitimate reasons to communicate about important matters.  However, if you do not have children together (or if your kids are grown), there really doesn’t seem to be a good reason for your ex to contact you.  This is especially true if he has a new girlfriend. 

One of the main reasons your ex may be contacting you is that he wants to make you jealous.  His new girlfriend may not be as attentive as he had hoped and he may be second-guessing ending the relationship with you, especially if you were attentive to his wants and needs.   In some cases, he may simply want to be friends. 

Whatever the reason that your ex is trying to contact you, it’s important for your own emotional well-being to consider the option of communication with him carefully.

How do I know if my breakup is final?

There are a few things that indicate the breakup of a relationship is final.  First, if you don’t live close to one another, the distance between you may make it easier to keep from reaching out and trying to see one another.  If your relationship was like a roller coaster of ups and downs, you may feel relief that it is over.  In this case, you may feel that it is best to let the breakup be final.  Also, if you feel more relief that the relationship has ended or feel little emotional pain related to the breakup, this is a good indicator that the breakup is final.

Do guys miss you after a breakup?

It is not uncommon for a guy to miss you after a breakup, even if the breakup was bad.  The amount of time you spend in a relationship with someone and the reason for the breakup both can influence whether he will miss you.  For example, if your relationship was more tumultuous than peaceful, he may feel like he has peace since the relationship has ended.  If, on the other hand, you both agreed that the relationship was not the best situation for both of you, but parted on good terms, he may be more likely to miss you.  He may find that when things happen in his daily life that you cross his mind.  Also, if you were once a source of strength or comfort to him, he may miss you during stressful times.

Why is my ex keeping in touch?

Aside from having children in common and needing to communicate about their care, there are several reasons an ex may try to keep in touch with you.  Sometimes an ex will keep in touch because they secretly have feelings for their ex and may be hoping to reconcile the relationship. 

For some, the familiarity of talking to someone that they once spent a great deal of time with seems to relieve the boredom that single life may cause.  It’s important to recognize this behavior because if your ex is reaching out to you simply out of boredom, chances are they will stop communicating when they meet a new partner or begin to develop a new relationship. 

Some exes feel guilty for going “no contact” after a breakup and feel like it’s simply the courteous thing to do to keep in touch.  It’s important for you to think about how this makes you feel and whether staying in touch feels like a healthy choice for you. 

Should I talk to my ex after no contact?

Before considering contact with an ex after having no contact, it is important to remember why you parted ways in the first place.  If your relationship ended because there was abuse or you felt that you were in danger, it may be best to avoid contact.

Is it healthy to keep in touch with an ex?

How healthy it depends on your personal feelings. Sometimes, keeping that friendship is healthy, and you two can work it out so you're close still. But, if you obsess to the point where the only goal is to get them back instead of moving on, or you're trying to get them back because that's the only identity you have, that's far from healthy.

If you continue to talk to your ex on a friendship basis, that can be healthy. If you were friends beforehand and maybe a relationship didn't work out, it can be okay. But, if you're trying to talk to him in hopes of getting back together, it could end badly for you. Oftentimes, if you broke up for the right reasons, keeping in touch will only aggravate the emotional wound.

If you see your ex as a backup, then it's not healthy. If you're so focused on getting back together, you can't be friends, then no, it isn't healthy. But, staying friends and understanding all you want is platonic friendship is healthy for many.

How long before you should talk to your ex after a breakup?

The rule of thumb is to wait 30 days before you speak to your ex once again. If you were together for a very long time and you break up, you may need to extend this to six weeks. At the most, 2-2.5 months is how long the no-contact phase should go. Do not contact them during the first 1-2 weeks, since they're in that "honeymoon" stage where they believe they did the right thing by breaking up.

Is it good to talk to your ex after breaking up?

It depends. If you were friends beforehand, it could be good to repair the friendship and make amends. If you can talk it out and agree to be friends, or maybe work it out together and build a friendship, or even a relationship, then take a chance.

Otherwise, if you know you still have feelings for them, but it's not healthy for you to talk to them, it's not a good idea to talk to your ex after a breakup.

It also isn't advisable to talk to your ex after a breakup right away. They need time to heal, to figure out their feelings, and to go from there.

Can you truly be friends with an ex?

If your relationship was friendship beforehand, it's totally possible. Going back to being just friends takes lots of time and effort, however.

Not everyone can do this. Lots of times, there are those who will stay friends with their ex, but then feel hurt when they choose to date someone else, or they get a new girlfriend. If you can move on and not hold onto the relationship, it's healthy and possible to stay friends.

There are some people who can separate their feelings from their friendship and learn to move on.

In those circumstances, they can truly be friends with their ex, and they can be happy as well.

Why do some exes keep in touch?

Sometimes it's because they did have a solid friendship before getting together. Other times, it's because they realize they can still be friends even as exes. Sometimes though, some people will keep in touch because they want to hook up again.

Sometimes people stay in touch with their ex because they want to get back with them again, and it's a feeling of regret because they broke up with them. The reasons for staying in touch do vary. If there is a kid involved, sometimes they stay in touch to inform the other about the kid.

There are many reasons, some healthy, some unhealthy, and the best way to determine if you should is to look at the relationship from a distant viewpoint, and from there, see if it's in your best interest to talk to your ex.

Should I confront my ex for closure?

No, and this is especially true for those who were in an abusive situation. If you know your ex is abusive and has said questionable things, putting yourself in that position isn't good for you, and you shouldn't spend that energy there.

Closure is a personal thing, based on your interests and your own desires. If you learn to move on, to not focus on your ex, and to have closure, it lets you move on, and lets you live your own life.

How do I stop wanting to talk to my ex?

Stop thinking about them. Learn to improve your own life. Stop basing your identity off your ex. If you feel that urge to talk to your ex, talk to a friend or family member you're close to.

Set it up where, whenever that urge comes forth, you do something else. For example, whenever you feel that urge to talk to them, journal it. Talk about why you feel this way, what's the reasoning behind wanting to talk to them, and what you think you'll accomplish. From there, tear up the piece of paper, imagining it's those feelings that are holding you back drifting away in the wind.

This is the best way to prevent the urge from talking to your ex, and you'll notice that, once you start following this, life gets a little bit easier.

How do I talk to my ex I still love?

First, wait and let the dust settle.

After that, you want to first and foremost say that you want to talk, and just talk. Don't bring up the relationship or the breakup. It's not the worst idea, but it's definitely not an ideal conversation starter. After all, would you like to dwell on that right away? Unless you plan to talk about the factors that lead to it, and how you will change, it's not advisable.

Ideally, start with a conversation that they'll like. Passions, for example, are a good place to start, and you can bring that up. You should make sure that you don't do this to get them to talk to you or want you back. Be genuine with your communication.

When you talk to them, you should talk about the things going on in their life, but don't be a bootlicker about it. You shouldn't also be too manipulative. Maybe talk about your goals and aspirations.

When talking to them, the feelings will surface. That's supernormal. You do love this person, but you need to understand that when a relationship severs, you don't want to be too overwhelming or try to jump straight into a relationship again. It'll be awkward and won't work otherwise.

Don't be obsessive over it either. If you do decide to talk, take your time, and maybe keep the conversations short but sweet. Show that you care, but don't get so hung up on it that it's all you can think about. That's not healthy, so don't do that.

Will ex ever reach out?

It depends on the situation. Sometimes, if the pain is too much, it might take a while. If the relationship ended on friendly terms, then they will. Even if it doesn't, sometimes exes will reach out in order to manipulate you back, which f the relationship was unhealthy, that isn't recommended.

Sometimes, they might miss you and want to be friends again. In that case, they will, but only after a bit.

If the relationship was really rocky, and neither of you wants to see one another again, then it's unlikely that they will.

When it comes to exes, the pain of a relationship is never easy. But, learning to cope with the feelings and move on lets you take control of your life and build a stronger foundation to move forward.

Therapy Is Personal

Therapy is a personal experience, and not everyone will go into it seeking the same things. But, keeping these nine things in mind can ensure that you will get the most out of online therapy, regardless of what your specific goals are.

If you’re still wondering if therapy is right for you, and how much therapy costs, please contact us at contact@betterhelp.com. BetterHelp specializes in online therapy to help address all types of mental health concerns. If you’re interested in individual therapy, please reach out to contact@betterhelp.com and check out our LinkedIn. For more information about BetterHelp as a company, please find us on 

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