Technological advances — like texting once was — are wonderful and ever-evolving. But while we use texting to stay connected and informed, thereby improving our day-to-day lives, it feels less like a helpful innovation and more like a self-destruct button during the midst of a breakup. Texting makes it way too easy to send exactly the wrong thing to exactly the wrong person, but you can’t pass the blame entirely. After all, as far as we know, phones can’t send late-night texts to your ex all by themselves.
Breakups are tough, and it’s easy to think that striking up a flirty conversation with your ex will lead to something more — or that sending them a page-long wall of text about how wrong they were will make them see the error of their ways. However, texting your ex in the spur of the moment is almost never a good idea. Here’s a look at texts you should definitely never send to a former flame.
"Just heard our song!"
Throughout the course of your relationship, you’re bound to absorb a multitude of information about makes your significant other the person they are, as well as build a treasure trove of memories and inside jokes that only the two of you will ever understand. So, what happens to all of those memories and tidbits of personal knowledge once your relationship ends?
Unfortunately, it’s all still floating around in your mind. You’ll be minding your own business in the supermarket when the loudspeakers suddenly start playing the first song you danced to with your ex, and boom — those memories (and the emotions attached to them) hit you like a ton of bricks in the frozen food aisle. When this happens, you might feel the urge to reach for your phone and let your ex know you’re thinking about them — but according to psychotherapist Melanie Shapiro, that’s never a good idea.
“While reaching out when reminded of your ex may feel like a good way to say you remember them — it actually holds back both you and your ex,” Shapiro explained to Elite Daily. Plus, if they don’t respond, you’ll only feel worse.
A string of expletives
According to Psychology Today, there are seven stages of grieving a breakup — desperation, denial, bargaining, relapse, anger, acceptance, and redirected hope. Unfortunately, the tunnel to aforementioned acceptance and redirected hope is long, dark, and filled with cobwebs of exasperation and resentment for your ex.
Of course, anger is a totally normal emotion to feel when drudging through the depths of breakup hell. It’s healthy to allow yourself time to experience the full spectrum of your emotions. It’s not healthy, however, to let those emotions get the best of you and inspire an anger-fueled, profanity-laden text to your ex.
Breakup coach and certified life coach, Chelsea Leigh Trescott explained that this post-breakup anger we feel is often related to our need to be right. “Instead of fighting to be right, I’ve learned how to let myself and others just be,” Trescott wrote in an article for HuffPost. Instead of sending a heat-of-the-moment text, take a leaf from Trescott’s book and write your ex a good ol’ fashioned letter when you’re feeling angry. You don’t have to send it (and probably won’t), but you’ll almost certainly feel better after getting things off your chest.
"I miss you."
Breaking up is hard to do. You know it, your parents know it — Neil Sedaka even wrote a song about it. Since people have been falling in love and breaking each other’s hearts for centuries, you’d think we’d have figured out a way to make the whole thing easier. After all, we’ve been to the moon. Unfortunately, advanced technology will likely never be capable of mending a broken heart — so you better buckle up and learn how to handle heartbreak yourself in the healthiest way possible.
Psychologist Adam Borland likens the grief you feel after a breakup to the grief you feel after someone you love dies, explaining, “You may question who you are or doubt your ability to move forward alone.” Wanting to reach out to the person you miss and tell them you miss them isn’t unreasonable — but as Dr. Borland revealed to Cleveland Clinic, doing so will only make the healing process harder. Instead, the psychologist suggests you reach out to trusted family and friends and open up to them about your grief. Chances are they’ve been there a time or two themselves.
"Congrats on your new relationship."
If it isn’t obvious by now, there are plenty of reasons to refrain from texting your ex. However, as psychotherapist and television personality Dr. Fran Walfish revealed to My Domaine, there are plenty of acceptable reasons to reach out to a former flame, as well. According to Dr. Walfish, restarting communication with your ex isn’t wholly a bad idea if they’ve expressed “genuine accountability and remorse” for hurting you, demonstrated (and sustained) change, or if your split was amicable and respectful. On the other hand, the psychotherapist laid out a pretty specific instance in which you should leave your ex alone: when they enter a new relationship.
“It’s no longer acceptable to text once you discover that your ex has a new relationship,” Dr. Walfish explained. “This is pivotal in the grieving process. Most folks entertain a certain fantasy that reconciliation of romance [and] love will resume. When you learn your ex has a new relationship, the ending and death of the fantasy must be faced.” In other words, before you can truly be happy for your former significant other and their newfound love, you first have to tend to your own wounds.
A list of everything they did wrong
As we’ve stated, breaking up is never easy — however, if you’re the one doing the dumping, you do have somewhat of an upper-hand. Unlike your blindsided beau, you knew the end was imminent and you almost certainly have your reasons why. Perhaps the two of you simply grew in separate directions and you felt it was finally time to say goodbye, or perhaps your former partner has a long list of misdeeds stacked up against them. If the latter is true, psychologist Guy Winch advised in an article for Time to not list out every single one of your ex’s wrongdoings — even if they ask you to.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t provide clarity as to why you decided to leave a relationship. If an ex texts you after a breakup looking for additional closure or clarity, Dr. Winch suggests keeping a narrow focus. “Find the one thing, because that might be useful for them [to know],” Dr. Winch explained, advising people to choose their words carefully. “Phrase something as, ‘This bothers me,’ or ‘This really was difficult for me.'” Constructive criticism can be a good thing — but even good things require moderation.
"Can we still be friends?"
When a relationship ends, you may find yourself feeling like the time you spent making memories and building a life with your significant other was all for naught. It’s almost as if you’ve spent millions of dollars renovating a house and making it your home — only to have a tornado whip through and shred it to pieces as you watch helplessly nearby. Picking up the pieces and salvaging what you can of your home after the storm has passed may seem like the only logical next step. However, the emotional debris caused by a breakup is often quite sharp around the edges — and, according to psychotherapist Rachel Sussman, if you’re too eager to rebuild something new with the pieces of your broken relationship, you’ll likely hurt yourself in the process.
Dr. Sussman told Time that immediately attempting to be best friends with your former flame is a bad idea, explaining, “Time heals. A lot of insight can come with time and space apart.” So before you text your ex a proposal of friendship, maybe try opening your meditation app and checking in with yourself. Who knows how you’ll feel in a month or two?
"I love your new profile pic!"
There’s no denying that a dose of cat videos and funny memes will do anyone’s heart some good — but social media can often be a minefield of memories. Unfortunately, there’s no cat video cute enough to protect you from seeing your former flame’s new profile picture.
While it can be tempting to use something your ex posts online as an excuse to reach out, psychotherapist Lisa Brateman says that “orbiting,” or interacting with an ex’s social media posts, is a new, terribly unhealthy dating trend to be avoided at all costs. “When you’re still liking somebody else’s stuff, you’re staying attached,” Dr. Brateman explained to Men’s Health. Obviously, texting your ex instead of simply giving their photo a “like” will send an even weightier message of attachment. If you’re not yet over your ex, clinical psychologist Wendy Walsh suggests you unfriend and unfollow them across every platform, as she told Men’s Health, “When we post on social media, we post the best pictures of us, where we look like we’re having the most fun. And every time you see that, you will re-injure yourself. It’ll be harder for you to get over it.”
"Wanna come over?"
Everyone gets lonely sometimes. And, whether they’ll admit to it or not, everyone has considered texting a former flame with the hope that they’d be interested in providing a bit of familiar company for the evening. However, as fun as a one-night stand with an ex lover may sound in theory, it’s almost never a good idea. According to sex therapist Sari Cooper, getting intimate with an ex soon after a breakup will generally only serve to make the healing process longer and more difficult to navigate.
“[Sleeping with your ex] interferes with the mourning process and can begin a cycle of back and forth that causes more distress,” Dr. Cooper revealed to Health, suggesting that couples wait at least a year after their split before they try to reignite the physical side of things. The sex therapist also advised having a discussion about expectations with your former partner to make sure you’re both on the same page before getting intimate again. If you’re expecting a one-night stand to lead to a rekindling of sorts, it’s probably best to not hit send on that “U up?” text.
"Why aren't you texting me back?!"
Maybe you’ve already texted your ex to tell them you heard your old song, sent a string of choice expletives, told them you missed them, congratulated them on their new relationship, provided a list of everything they did wrong, asked if they still wanted to be friends, complimented their profile picture, and invited them over for a little bit of fun — not necessarily in that order, of course. Maybe they’re busy and haven’t texted you back yet — or maybe they have their read notifications turned on so you know that they’re seeing your texts and choosing not to engage. It’s a cruel, cold world out there, but sending text after text isn’t going to make it any warmer, friend.
According to a study by Typing.com, more than six unanswered text messages sent consecutively will come across as “clingy” to the receiving party, therefore making them less likely to respond. If your ex wants to talk to you, they’ll respond in their own time. And if they don’t — you’re probably better off anyway.
A revealing photo
As we’ve learned, sleeping with your ex is generally never recommended. However, as psychologist Rachel Needle explained to Health — if both parties have completely moved on from the relationship emotionally, a hook-up or two likely won’t do much harm. “If you don’t find yourself thinking about your ex anymore, and thinking of your ex with another person doesn’t bother you, then this could be an indication that hooking up could be okay,” Dr. Needle revealed. That said, if you have a long distance ex with whom you’re thinking of striking up a sexting conversation — put down your phone.
In the social media-obsessed, instant gratification-worshipping age in which we live, sending a risqué or nude photo to anyone is a risky move — especially if that person is someone with whom you don’t have a solid, trusting relationship. As Dr. David J. Ley explained in an article for Psychology Today, if your ex still harbors resentment toward you regarding your break-up, they might take it upon themselves to share your sultry selfie in order to “get revenge on [you] for breaking up with [them] and hurting [their] feelings.”
A response to their text
Let’s be honest — depending on the circumstances surrounding your breakup, getting a text from an ex can feel really, really good. Clinical psychologist Beth Kurland broke down the science behind this little feeling of victory to Elite Daily, explaining, “When we break up and later get a text from an ex, this can re-trigger and activate that same neural circuitry.” However, Dr. Kurland also revealed how one little text from a former flame can send you straight into a downward spiral: “We crave that same pleasure we once experienced with this person, which can help explain why it is so hard to let go of an old relationship and why it can even become an obsession.”
We know it can be tempting to enter into a fun, flirty conversation with your ex — after all, they did text you first! What’s the harm? However, when and if they eventually stop responding to your messages, you’ll likely start to feel rejected by them all over again, especially if you haven’t fully moved on from the relationship. Unfortunately, the risk here is greater than the reward.
An "accidentally on purpose" text
If you’re thinking that “accidentally” sending your ex a text clearly meant for someone else is a good way to make them regret letting you go, allow us to stop you right there. Before you try to make your ex jealous by sending them a thank-you text for the “fun time” or “beautiful flowers” they definitely didn’t send you, perhaps you should consider that your former flame has probably used this roundabout method of communication before — and can likely see right through your act.
Even if your ex never catches on to what you’re doing, it’s still not in your best interest to force conversation through mild manipulation. And if we’re being honest, you probably already know that. LPCA Elise Howell suggests you listen to your instincts and spend your energy bettering yourself rather than initiating conversation by lying to your ex — no matter how small that lie might be. In an article for Psych Bytes, Howell advised, “When you hear yourself asking, ‘Should I…?’ take a step back.” She continued, “Instead, think about what kind of partner you hope to be, and start practicing those values and behaviors now.”
"Can we please give things another try?"
Few things come close to the soul-crushing feeling of having your heart broken by someone you love. While you’re wallowing in sadness, rom-coms, and pints of ice cream, you’ll likely get the bright idea to pick up your phone and send your ex a text asking if they’re double-sure about their decision. And if they say they are — well, you still might feel inspired to ask them to reconsider. We call this unfortunate line of thought “breakup brain,” and it is not to be trusted.
Sending your former partner a text begging them make things work is never a good idea. As Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister explained to Psychology Today, the healthiest thing you can do is redirect your thinking to all the better things (and people) on the horizon. “There’s something about love that makes you think there’s only one person for you, and there’s a mythology surrounding that,” Baumeister told the publication. “But there’s nothing magical about one person.” In other words, there are plenty of fish in the sea — so don’t waste your energy texting the one who broke your heart.
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