Here’s exactly what to do when your ex hits you up, because they always do
It’s like clockwork
by Nian Hu
If there is one thing we can all agree on, it's that exes blow. Yeah, even the ones we promised to "stay friends with" (oh, the lies we tell ourselves). Look, I wish we could all have mature and friendly relationships with our exes, but the reality is most of us would bolt in the other direction if we so much as saw them walking our way.
It's just weird, okay! Like…you told me you loved me once. You saw every inch of my naked body. You maybe used to pop zits on my back, for crying out loud! And you expect me to look you in the eye and smile politely while you introduce me to your new gf? HARD pass.
The absolute worst part about exes? THEY. KEEP. COMING. BACK. Seriously, what the fuck is up with that? Can't we just block each other on every form of social media and pretend those six months never happened? Nope! For some reason, there is a 99% chance at least one of your exes will try to crawl back into your life with a seemingly innocuous text or DM. "Looks awesome!" they'll respond to your Insta Story of a croissant, "Reminds me of that bakery we used to get brunch at every Sunday. How's life treating you?"
Here's how to dodge that shit:
Take a second to remind yourself why you broke up in the first place
Depending on how much time has passed since the breakup, you might be a little fuzzy on the details. In fact, you might have forgotten precisely why you broke up in the first place. Something something incompatibility, something something bad timing. Those reasons, which seemed so compelling and important just a few months ago, suddenly feel small and insignificant. What a dumb reason to break up with someone, you can't help but think to yourself. Compared to the string of assholes and fuckboys you've been finding on Tinder, your ex wasn't really THAT bad…right?
Hold the fuck up! These feelings aren't real. Yes, that's right! Your own damn brain is lying to you. Look, it happens to all of us. We romanticize the past. You look through old photos of high school and fondly reminisce about all the good times you had — forgetting about all the times you cried over acne, got bullied for your clothes, or pulled all-nighters to study for your calculus exam. Similarly, you think about your ex and start remembering all the fun you had, while conveniently forgetting about all the times they lied to you, argued with you over stupid shit and generally made your life sad and miserable. It's important to take a step back and try to actively remember all the reasons things didn't work out — because chances are, those reasons were valid back then and are still valid today. If you're having trouble remembering, send a quick message to your friends. You might not remember all the huge fights, but I'm SURE your friends do, and they'll be more than happy to remind you! They're not riding this out with you again.
Literally just ignore them if you want to!!
Okay, this might seem immature or petty, but this is a serious option that you have! If things ended really badly, then there's a solid case for cutting off contact with them forever. Like if they cheated on you, lied to you about something serious, or — god forbid — abused you in any way? Hell no. You don't owe them SHIT. Not even a short "I'm great, thanks for asking!" Yeah, some people may say that it's rude to not respond, but do you really give a shit? Because I don't.
All I'm saying is you shouldn't feel an obligation to respond to your ex. If the healthiest thing for you to do is just ignore them and hit them with that block button, then go ahead and do it. We all have different timelines when it comes to healing from emotional pain — and, depending on the severity of that pain, your timeline might be far longer. There's nothing wrong with not forgiving someone, especially if they treated you terribly. Give yourself that peace of mind if you need it.
If you simply MUST respond, keep it short and casual
Alright, let's say your ex wasn't a giant flaming pile of trash and you actually do want to respond to them. First, stop yourself and ask yourself why you want to respond. Is it because you still kinda miss them and have feelings for them? If so, go back to the previous step and ignore them. This is absolutely vital to your own well-being! You don't have to ignore your ex for the rest of your life, but you definitely shouldn't be talking to them until a few months (or years) later when you know for sure those feelings have died. This might seem like overkill, especially if your ex is literally just hitting you up over a photo of a croissant, but hear me out. The conversation might start off as an innocent chat about brunch, but it could quickly spiral into a confession about lingering feelings and sexual desires — and if you're fresh out of the breakup, this is not what you need! Do not tempt fate. Ignore, ignore, ignore.
If you truly feel like responding to your ex won't send you down a spiral of repressed emotions, then go ahead and text them back. In fact, if you're feeling especially risk-taking, you can even meet up with them in person! Just make sure to keep it short and casual. While you were dating, you may have texted each other long paragraphs about what you did every day, or spent hours walking around and opening up about your deepest desires. But you're not dating anymore, remember? Treat this person as you would treat any old acquaintance. Be polite and cordial, give them the standard updates on your life, ask them broader questions about their life (but only if you actually care).
Some safe talking points include work and school. Dangerous talking points include sex and relationships. And talking points that seem safe but quickly veer into danger include anything that reminds you of your ex — so like, pretty much everything. See what I mean? Avoid those traps by sticking to the most boring subjects in all of existence! If you're lucky, you can bore your ex to death and they'll never contact you ever again. Bliss!
DO NOT HOOK UP WITH THEM!!
I literally cannot emphasize this enough. DO NOT DO IT. I don't care how "over it" you think you are! If you are even THINKING about hooking up with your ex, you are not over them. Not by a long shot. And sure, you might tell yourself you're just doing it because the sex feels good, but there are a lot of other people you can have good sex with.
You know exactly why you're doing this. You're doing it because you miss them, and you have the faintest hope you might get back together — if not now, then sometime in the near future. Because you're soulmates. You're meant to be. This breakup…it's temporary. It has to be. Waking up in their arms, kissing them, cuddling against their chest — it just feels so good. And how can something be wrong if it feels so right?
But it's not right. And it doesn't even feel that good. Yeah, it feels good while you're doing it, but when the moment it ends, you wake up from the fantasy and realize what a huge mistake you've made. You watch as your ex texts other girls, and you feel like the biggest fucking idiot in the world. That's okay — we're human and we all make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up too much if it happens once, but do take active steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
The worst thing you can do is stay in denial about what's really going on. Interrogate your reasons for wanting to hook up with your ex over and over again, and come to terms with the simple fact that you miss them and you're devastated you'll never be with them again. You feel lonely, you feel sad, and you feel like your world is ending. And those are all normal emotions to feel after a breakup, but you're just delaying the inevitable if you continue to pour salt on this open wound.
Stop talking to your ex altogether. Let yourself feel the pain, the loneliness, all of it. And then, slowly but surely, you will heal.