We’ve all had our hearts broken by someone who decided they wanted to deal with serious personal problems alone. Unfortunately, when they said “alone,” they meant they wanted no more relationship or contact with you at all.
At the time, you may have told them you would be there for them no matter what, but doing so didn’t include trying in any way, shape, or form to stay in touch. It hurts, and you hated losing them, but in the end, you had to accept their decision.
Should I call my ex?
Plain and simple, the answer is: no. There is (almost) never a good reason to reach out to your ex, whether it’s because you miss them, you’ve had a few too many, you found one of their white tees (of which they have about 30 more in his dresser at home) and you’re worried they’ll desperately miss it, or you want to “check up on them.”
You have to remember that they broke up with you and if they haven’t called you for that tee shirt, they don’t miss it. They’re doing just fine, and you’re only trying to do yourself a favor that’ll make yourself feel better — no them.
If they want to talk to you, they know where to find you. And they haven’t contacted you, so that means you shouldn’t talk to them, right?
Here are 10 reasons you should never get in touch with your ex or do anything else to try to get them back, even if you love them. (Yes, even if you know your relationship worked well when you were still together.)
10 reasons you should not call your ex
1. You want a full relationship or no relationship at all.
While friends may suggest you can get in touch and offer support as a human being trying to help another human being in trouble, the problem is, you can’t offer your support without hoping for more.
You will not settle for offering endless “friendship” and emotional support until the chemistry dies, all because of your sweet, but misguided attempts to “save” them.
If they want to step back into your relationship now, or at any point in the future, they know exactly where to find you.
Checking in, checking up, helping out, or trying to get involved in fixing their problems aren’t behaviors that make sense anymore; they clearly said “no” to you.
2. You’re probably lying to yourself about why you want to call.
You could tell yourself all the ways you’re trying to “be a good human being” and “care about them as a person,” but you would be lying to yourself.
You want them. You cannot and will not pretend or downgrade your feelings for them to just being friendly and caring about “how things are going.” You have to consider the concept that you’re not an angel, and sometimes your very presence could make things worse.
All of the gentle, caring acts in the world aren’t valuable if they offend the person you’re obsessively “caring” about, and come from a place that’s disingenuous, whether you’re able to admit it to yourself or not. In some cases, “caring” masquerades as control.
And the thing is: You do care about them as a person. And that’s why you’re leaving them alone.
3. You aren’t “abandoning” them by not calling — they don’t need you.
As a human being, you should show that you care by reminding them that you were there for them when times were tough. You can’t abandon someone who clearly told you to go away, and continuing to try and help someone who doesn’t want you to help isn’t helpful!
You respect them and don’t want to decide what they need.
How do you know they don’t need you? Easy: They aren’t with you and haven’t asked to check back up with you the last time anyone checked.
4. They might be too embarrassed to get in touch, but if so, that isn’t your problem.
Maybe they are embarrassed. In their place, you might feel the same way.
But you know what? If you let someone go because you wanted to go on a personal journey, you would eventually accept the fact that breaking up was your decision, thus your responsibility to reverse course if you wanted to revisit the relationship.
The benefits of being around the other person would outweigh the potential slings and arrows to your pride. However, time and circumstances are important factors here.
Loving your ex and wanting them in your life doesn’t mean you automatically possess the emotional resources to be in a real relationship with them. Maturity is realizing your own limitations and letting someone else go, rather than dragging them through the mud with you.
Love doesn’t conquer all and it isn’t enough. And, in the event that your ex doesn’t actually love you, why in the world would you subject yourself to being in someone’s presence who you love, but doesn’t want you?
5. They aren’t yours to worry about any more.
These nightmare-scenario, mental-gymnastic reasons why you should fall all over yourself to call your ex are fear-based, but your ex isn’t your problem to worry about anymore.
Some of the worries you have may be these:
“What if they could use someone to talk to?” They’re a phone owner who has a functioning voice. (Unless they caught laryngitis, in which case they can send you a text message.)
“What if they’re barely holding it together?” Your magic wand hasn’t been working for a while now anyway.
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“What if you have the super-secret code to their happiness, and all you have to do is sneeze and they’ll be okay again?” That isn’t how it works. Or how anything works, for that matter.
We could play pretend all day long, but worrying about someone else doesn’t change bad circumstances, save anyone, control reality, or fix any relationship. And we have to stop using it as a magical amulet that somehow serves any of these purposes.
Worrying about your ex — to your ex — by trying some kind of pity play is just a covert statement that you don’t respect or trust their decisions. And that’s not exactly a great message to be sending anyone you care about.
6. Your time would be better spent taking care of yourself.
Why would you spend your time worrying about another divine being with their own path when you could be making better use of your time by learning something new, like woodworking or a sport?
7. Even if things may eventually work out, you can’t force the timing.
People work through things on their own time schedules. If your ex wants to get in touch with you, they will. If they don’t, why would you want to force them to be interested in a relationship they rejected?
The reality is that your ex is not calling you right now. That could change at any time, or it might never. But the thing is: it’s up to them, and you have to trust and respect their timing.
Resist the urge. Don’t dial his number, because, as much as it feels like the right thing to do for you, you have to think about them as well.
8. You broke up for reasons you cannot change.
Doing an inventory of the reasons why you broke up can help you get a better idea of whether or not there is a chance of getting back together. Getting dumped because you were acting like a jerk or because the two of you fought a lot is different than your ex leaving you because they had personal things to take care of and needed some space.
You’re flawed and human, and sometimes people make mistakes that hurt other people. No matter what the reason was for the breakup, they did indeed break it off, so saving your relationship isn’t an option.
9. You diminish the value of your own company by forcing it on others.
Forcing yourself into places you aren’t wanted is neither heroic nor romantic — it’s demeaning to your self-worth.
You’re probably tired of creating, allowing, and cultivating situations where you are self-sacrificing to such an extent that your resentment reaches a fever pitch. You’ve spoken that angry language of bitterness and score-keeping. If you’re honest with yourself, all of this self-sacrifice was never gotten you even a tiny bit more love. In fact, you would be better off in life if you had never, ever tried to go the white knight route.
Someone must choose you to get your attention. Otherwise, withdraw it peacefully and gently.
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10. You have no reason to trust them.
Your ex is an incredibly capable, intelligent human being who ultimately finds ways to take care of themselves. If they think the best decision was for them to break up with you, then who are you to try to take control or inject yourself into their lives?
Sometimes, the highest level of love and caring you can give someone is to respect their wishes. There is a time to not take no for an answer, and there is a time to back off, sit down, and shut up.
Your acceptance and lack of checking in don’t make you an uncaring monster. Your actions simply mean that you love yourself and respect them more than forcing them to have you in their lives if they don’t want that.
That doesn’t mean you love them any less, it just means you’re willing to lovingly put yourself first.
And after all, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Are there ever circumstances under which it is OK to call your ex?
Very few, but yes it is OK to call your ex if you have a straightforward, unambiguous question related to an objectively necessary topic, such as your mortgage, which friend your child is spending the night with, or the appointment time for your pet’s vet appointment.
If something like that is the case, write down what you’re going to say before you call so that you remain focused on your purpose for calling and to keep from going off-script.
Maybe you and your ex agreed on a set amount of time to take space from each other. But if they’re the one who asked for space, try to be the bigger person and let them make their way back to you.
If they need space, let them have it, or they’ll just resent you and feel smothered because you haven’t given them all the breathing space they needed to sort out their thoughts and the feelings that separated the two of you in the first place. place, which could lead to the official end of your relationship for good.
Who knows, maybe you’ll like the “new you” without them — but it’ll take time to heal and grow and find out for yourself.
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Elizabeth Stone is an author and relationship coach whose work has been featured on Popsugar, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, Ravishly, Zoosk, Tiny Buddha, and more.