What To Do When Your Ex Reaches Out Again After Breaking Up With You
It's not a matter of if, but when.
There’s a good chance you’ve gotten that call (or text). The familiar voice saying “I miss you” or a similar sentiment, even though this same person broke up with you. It’s particularly confusing when you still love them. Hearing from an ex leaves you wondering what it means. Is this an attempt to get back together? Often there are no other signs of that he wants to actually get back with you. No attempts to get together or talk about what happened and why. Not much more than a few powerful words.
Let’s talk about what this really means.
Someone can miss you without wanting to get back together with you. He may miss the company, the sex, the mutual things you laugh about. He may miss you for some reason you will never know. But they may not miss you as a partner. They don’t want to be with you in a real relationship again. They may realize on one side that there are some good qualities to you and the relationship, but on the other hand, is some core dissatisfaction or fact that is unchangeable.
When your ex reaches out, it might just be to:
get an ego boost
find out what you’re up to
not be alone
keep you as a “cushion” in case their other options don’t pan out
What you should do when your ex contacts you?
Think about your ex and the relationship logically and rationally. Isn’t it odd that he reaches out but there is no real effort to do something about it? Aren’t you worth more than those three words that are really meaningless? These words are easy to say. Don’t read more into it than that.
Keep a firm boundary. This behavior is disrespectful and selfish depending upon how your relationship ended. If you were left hurt or confused by the breakup, reaching back shouldn’t be viewed as a goodwill gesture.
Don’t screw up a current relationship If your in one.
Don’t put your life on hold. Continue to grieve the loss of the relationship if needed or detach yourself from any feelings about it.
Be assertive. Do what’s in your best interest. Be honest with yourself about the likely outcome if you allow this person back into your life. Don’t let someone to play with your heart. Be direct about what you want. It’s fine to say, “don’t tell me that unless you are looking to truly get back together.”
You don’t have to be “nice.” Women tend to want to be nice about their responses. You don’t have to be. You have permission to firmly set the boundaries and limits that work for you. If “no contact” works best for you, then enforce it! It’s okay to say, “I don’t want to hear from you again…I’ve moved on.” It’s also okay not to respond at all.
Remember the reality of the relationship, not just the fantasy.
Was it really as good as it seemed? Did you feel good, comfortable, safe, cared for? Was he consistent, reliable, communicative, transparent, and responsive to your needs?
When a relationship ends, we tend to idealize the other person and forget the negative parts about them. This will not serve you well. Take an honest inventory before you take any action.
Your ex may have reached out for many reasons—most of which aren’t in your best interest. If he reached out for a legitimate and honorable reason, his actions and behavior would line up with the spoken words. He will both say and act like he misses you and wants to try again. He will be able to identify why he ended the relationship, what he felt, and how he imagines it being different if you resume it. He will be able to identify his own fears or changes he needs to make without blaming you or demanding that you change. If he pinpoints something between you that was troubling, for example, that you fought too much, you both should have an idea of how to fix that together.
After hearing “I miss you,” or a similar remark, be skeptical.
Don’t let your own emotions carry you down the same path you’ve been down. You already know it’s a dead-end street. I would not expect closure from opening up a conversation either. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t entertain being anyone’s back-up plan. Someone who genuinely wants to be with you will be clear about is and won’t resist making an effort.
Dr. Marni Feuerman is a licensed psychotherapist and author of Ghosted and Breadcrumbed: Stop Falling for Unavailable Men and Get Smart about Healthy Relationships available on Amazon and everywhere else books are sold. Sign up for her newsletter to keep in touch and get the latest content on love, dating and relationships.
*Author note: This article was originally written for YourTango.com.