Love, Lindsay

'My Ex And I Haven't Spoken In A Year. Can I Reach Out To Her?'

All your relationship questions answered — right here, right now.

Dear Lindsay, 

My ex broke up with me about a year ago, and we haven't spoken since. I was very hurt and confused after we broke up, so it was my idea not to have any contact because I needed to remove myself from the temptation of texting her and trying to get her back. But this week, I came across an article that might be good for her to know for her job, and there's a part of me that wants to send it to her. I feel like I spent much of the last year in that kind of bargaining mindset that grief stricken people sometimes have, and I was feeling so good about myself for making steps towards fixing it when this suddenly popped up. So I'm torn because there's a legitimate reason to contact her about this eventually, but I also want to respect her feelings and mine and not just drop in out of the blue. Is this a good idea, and if so, how would you suggest I approach her? Do I make amends as friends first? Basically, what should I do? 

- Tyler

To answer your ultimate question: "Should I text my ex?" you first need to ask yourself, "What do I hope to get out of this interaction?" Then, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. When it comes to reinitiating contact with an ex, it's only a good idea if you are 100 percent over them and truly want the best for them. However, if there's even .00001 percent that you're reaching out in the hopes that it might result in a rekindled romance, you absolutely should not do it. 

You said it yourself that you cut off contact with her immediately because you didn't want to tempt yourself into having false hope. Now, you need to establish that you have no hope — or, even better, no desire to — rekindle your relationship. If you can't do that, then it's best to hold off on this text until you're over the breakup

Generally speaking, I don't recommend texting an ex until you've already dated a few other people, or even entered into a new relationship. Granted, that might take awhile (and you may want to check with anyone you're exclusively dating first), but this way, at least you've taken the possibility of a rekindled romance off the table. 

If you can honestly say that you no longer want to be in a relationship with her, then you can send her that work-related article with a quick text acknowledging how long it's been since you last spoke. It's important to remember that you're a different person than you were a year ago, and so is she. I liken exes to strangers who have taken over the body of someone you once knew better than anyone else, so talking to your ex may very well resemble talking to a stranger. So you have to go into this contact reinitiation knowing and accepting that it's different than texting an old friend. You can't pick up where you left off — and you might even be left hanging. 

That's the next question you need to ask yourself: "Will I be OK if she doesn't respond?" If the answer is no, then again, you shouldn't text her. The only way you can reach out to an ex without jeopardizing the progress you've made since the breakup is with zero expectations and strings attached. If she doesn't respond, you need to be able to shrug it off. The key is separating the new person you're texting from the memory of the person you were in love with. You don't know her anymore, and you should go into this accepting the possibility that she may want to continue not knowing you. 

It's also important to remember that even though she's the one who broke up with you, she might still not be ready to reconnect because she's going through her own breakup process. Just as the lack of contact has helped you progress over the past year, it's most likely helped her, too. So if she doesn't respond, it may not have anything to do with what you said, but everything to do with her fear that she'll backslide into some kind of friendship/relationship hybrid that often doesn't end well. (Trust me, I've seen/lived it.) 

If your ex does respond, however, it's best to keep your first conversation short. If she asks how you're doing, give her the Reader's Digest version and don't feel obligated to reciprocate. It's polite, of course, but no matter how secure you feel in your post-breakup life, learning too much about her new life could unexpectedly hurt you. The key is to leave the conversation on amicable, yet slightly detached, terms. You want the best for each other, but you don't really want to hear about it. 

At least, not yet. In the future, when you're both completely happy in your separate lives, then that's the time to catch up, but just a year after what sounds like a pretty serious breakup may be too soon to jump into a friendship. So take your time because if being in each other's lives in a platonic way is something you both want to happen, it will. 

Ultimately, when it comes to reaching out to an ex for the first time, your number one priority should always be yourself and your mental health. You need to be clear with yourself about your intentions and expectations. If you can go in with pure intentions and zero expectations, then great, go ahead and send that text. If you can't — and you'll know if you can't — then it's probably best just to journal about it instead. 

Love, Lindsay 

Lindsay here, A Plus's resident relationship guru/columnist. While I may not know everything, I do know a lil something about love and our seemingly endless pursuit of it. Having written dozens ofA Plus articles about dating, relationships, and sex, I'm ready and willing to investigate all of your romantically-inclined questions (submit here!) — because I've asked them myself. What I hope to bring to A Plus's readers is a sex-positive, body-positive, and most importantly, you-positive perspective on modern love. Consider Love, Lindsay your digital Cupid.

Cover image via  Antonio Guillem I Shutterstock

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