Should I Talk To My Ex Or Stay Away?

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated May 28, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include abuse which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Relationships can be complicated. No matter how healthy, each relationship may come with unique challenges, setbacks, or breakups. In some cases, relationships end, and you may get to a point when you 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 if you are asking, “Should I contact my ex?” you may want to consider a few factors first.

Getty/AnnaStills
Learn how to reconnect with past relationships healthily

Should I talk to my ex again?

Breaking up with someone can feel challenging, and you or your ex-partner may feel deeply hurt, 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, it might not be the best idea to text your ex or contact them in any way.

Because each relationship can be unique, deciding to talk to your ex can be a complex issue. Everyone wants to know how to talk to their ex since it might not be a simple thing to do in the first place. 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?

Getty/AnnaStills

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 or staying friends is not a healthy option. 

Some couples may find themselves getting back together, potentially several times, until they realize the same unhealthy patterns occur. This cycle can prevent individuals from moving on and exploring a healthy new relationship with someone more compatible.

Others might reconcile and heal areas of the relationship that were previously not working 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 wait before they start dating again, 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) seek support from your family and close circle. Although the breakup might have been the right decision, it’s natural to feel sad and miss them. However, in many cases, it might be wrong to act on the feeling of missing them. Your ex is no longer your partner and may not be your friend, so try to take some time alone to focus on the positive aspects of your life and your overall well-being. Time without contact may facilitate healing, a healthier perspective, and a greater awareness of your needs. 

Was it an abusive or unhealthy relationship?

If you were in a toxic, abusive, or manipulative relationship, you might decide against contacting your ex. These qualities could 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 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. 

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Learn how to reconnect with past relationships healthily

How to decide whether to reach out to an ex

Most breakups are synonymous with heartbreaks. Even if you want to move on, the question "Why do I miss my ex?" may sometimes linger in your mind. Although reaching out to an ex can feel tempting, it may result in unpleasant repercussions in some cases. 

You might feel ready and positive until you notice how involved you still are emotionally. 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. You might realize that reconnecting isn't necessarily the answer, and while you may have spent a special time together, don’t fight the reality if they’re not interested in reconnecting. 

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. 

Only you can determine whether reaching out might be beneficial or make you feel worse. If you do decide you want to talk to your ex and feel it is the healthiest choice, start simple and with respect. 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. One other form of reconnection could be digital; sending a message online to explain that you want to reconnect can be low-stakes and give your ex a chance to think before responding.

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 or help from a relationship coach. In many cases, you can seek support from a close friend or family member. However, if you're feeling distraught, upset, or firmly pulled toward your ex, it may be beneficial to have professional support. A mental health professional may be able to help you manage the negative emotions surrounding the breakup and give you exercises to stop thinking about your ex so deeply. 

Online therapy for relationship advice

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. 

Takeaway

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.

Build healthy relationship habits with a professional
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started