Perhaps it was a two-week fling, a mutual breakup, or an old partner who ghosted you once and has resurfaced for closure. No matter what the scenario is, it will take some time to settle your thoughts if you have to handle an ex coming back years later. While you tactfully avoid tapping on the notification, it can throw your whole mojo off-balance.
If it was a nasty breakup and you still have some resentment toward this person, you will have to fight the urge to not curse them out loud. If the person ghosted you leaving you in dire need of closure, you might feel tempted to respond to their message. Just the prospect of talking to an ex after years is bound to give you a lot of anxiety.
A host of questions must be bothering you to the core: Why do exes come back after leaving for someone else? My ex and I are talking again, can this lead to something more complicated? With the help of consultant psychologist Jaseena Backer (MS Psychology), who is a gender and relationship management expert, let’s figure out what you can do to cope with this mysterious text your ex has sent.
why do exes come back later?
We don’t sign up for certain catastrophes in life. But they happen anyway., and you are left with no other choice than to face the aftermath. One such conundrum hits us when our exes come back after no contact and we are clueless about how to respond. “My ex messaged me after a year. Why did they have to reappear when things were just about to get fine?” – thoughts like these come and go, wrecking your peace of mind. Let’s explore the possible reasons behind an ex trying to make their way back into your life:
1. You are moving on and they are jealous
Exes come back after months. You are not the first one to deal with this adverse state of affairs. Your ex-partner must have kept a tab on you. They noticed your transition from sad to happy, and the expression of contentment on your face is threatening to them. They didn’t expect you to be this chirpy so soon. The fact that you moved on and found happiness all over again on your own, draws them back to square one.
And if there’s a new partner in the picture, the green-eyed monster might rear its ugly head. Now that you are planning your life with a new person, the chances of your ex-partner getting back together with you are practically zero. And this epiphany has the power to escalate the steps of your ex coming back more rapidly than you thought.
2. They regret breaking up with you
Many a time, people end a relationship in haste without thinking it through. Minor inconveniences in their way or temptations to commit infidelity can drift two lovers apart in a jiffy. But that doesn’t mean the deeper connection between them would disappear just like that. After the initial gloomy impact of the breakup is lifted, they perceive that leaving you (or cheating on you) was a huge mistake.
Perhaps they have even started dating soon after the breakup. But they didn’t click with anyone. There was a certain sense of familiarity and comfort in your relationship which is simply hard to replace. Perhaps they don’t have the energy to get to know another person from scratch, to reach the level of ease and intimacy that you shared. Naturally, it can make your exes come back when you stop caring.
3. They can’t bear the no-contact rule
For a person who has been dumped in a relationship, no contact offers that much-required time and space for healing. On the contrary, the partner who initiated this breakup would get a reality check. They will be able to compare the different aspects of their life with and without your presence in it. And if they don’t like what they see, they will start missing you.
Say, you have been applying the no-contact rule after the breakup, be it a mutual decision or one-sided. You are following it religiously cutting off all contact with your ex. They don’t get to stalk you on social media and meeting you in person is beyond their reach. When this no-contact situation casts its shadows on your ex, they will look for opportunities to get in touch with you.
Sometimes, the ex comes back with a text to just check in on you. There was a lot of love in your dynamic before, and that may have turned to affection and warmth. They might just want to be friends with you, if you’re open to the idea.
What does it mean when an ex contacts you years later?
Seeing your ex after a long time could be extremely overwhelming. What is their intention? Is there any ulterior motive? To handle an ex coming back with dignity, you should ponder on all the probable scenarios to stay a step ahead of them. The most harmless case might be that your ex-partner is just checking in on you – to learn how you are doing in life. This is a possibility if you ended the relationship on good terms.
On a bitter note, they couldn’t handle the happy, successful life you are leading. So, they are back to mess with your head, bring back all the memories, and stomp your progress in the healing process. Maybe they are still holding grudges against you and decided this is the right time to serve the cold dish of revenge.
Let’s not lose sleep over only the unpleasant prospects. When exes come back after months, there could be a rosy side to it too. Perhaps they feel genuinely guilty about hurting you so badly and can’t find their peace until you forgive them. If the apologizing part of the plan goes well, they might even express their willingness to get back together.
8 Things To Do When Your Ex Contacts You Years Later
Do exes come back after leaving for someone else? They could, and that one little text has the power to turn your life upside down. Maybe you thought you’ve made your peace with whatever happened with your ex. Perhaps you thought you’d completely moved on, but their message reminds you of all the good times that you didn’t even know you had buried away. Before you type out an elaborate text asking for an explanation, pause and think about your life right now.
Your ex is an ex for a reason, and giving them attention when your present life is fulfilling isn’t really worth it. When an ex contacts you years later, you need to focus on why they became your ex in the first place. Pro tip: Keep your mind open and your heart closed. Your heart might start beating faster the moment you get a text from the ex but take a few minutes to think about the consequences if you end up meeting the ex again.
“When an ex contacts you years later, how you take it, how you feel about it, and how you react to it will all pretty much depend on how well you have healed from it,” says Jaseena, “If the ex had exited without closure or ghosted you, you’re probably going to be in a whirlwind of emotions when you receive this text. The bitterness, anger, and disappointment buried deep down may rear their ugly heads when this text lights up your screen.
“But if you’ve received an adequate amount of closure after breaking up with them and actually have been able to move on, it could be easier to respond or even ignore the text. So if you’re figuring out what to do if an ex contacts you after years, the first thing you should do is figure out how well you have healed.”
Talking about how texts from her ex ended up wreaking havoc in her life, Rebecca, a teacher from Michigan, shares, “My ex got married but still contacts me and my current partner couldn’t be angrier about it. Sometimes, I want to reply but my partner is visibly upset about it, so I haven’t so far. I have no idea what to do. I will stay in a chaotic state of mind until I find out what they want after all these days.”
What to do if an ex contacts you after years isn’t the easiest thing to decide. You are about to put a lot at stake here. It could be your mental peace, could be the relationship with your new partner. One impulsive move can shatter everything. So, we have jotted down these 8 points for you to ponder on before you decide to reply to that text. Remember, when an ex contacts you, you need to be answerable to yourself first.
Related Reading: 9 Reasons You Miss Your Ex And 5 Things You Can Do About It
1. Think of yourself first
“In such situations, it is important to understand that the ex is texting when the ex feels like it. It is entirely up to you to respond or not. You DO NOT have to maintain a protocol, thinking that it’ll be too rude to not reply. If you don’t want to reply, you don’t have to and you frankly shouldn’t. Do not use it as an opportunity to continue the mud-slinging. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for not responding. Even if you do respond, make sure you can do so in an indifferent manner,” says Jaseena.
Think about your life right now. Do you like how your life looks without your ex? If your ex and you had a very on-again-off-again kind of relationship, do you think bringing that back into your life is a healthy decision? Your obligation toward your ex has ended, and it is alright to think of yourself first. If your relationship ending with your ex has left you in a therapist’s room, it is wiser to leave the ex in the past.
On the contrary, what if your ex got dumped and just wanted to check in on you? Or maybe you both ended things mutually and somehow stayed out of touch for years. In that case, having a quick chat on Instagram won’t be such a bad idea. Talking to an ex after years can haunt you with memories, so buckle up. And think of yourself first. Your mental peace certainly comes before they rant to you about their workload and unmet marital fulfillment.
2. You don’t have to reply instantly
“When exes come back after no contact, it startles you for a second. My ex contacted me after 2 years and I couldn’t help but immediately respond to ask her what she wanted. She said, “Wow, instant reply. It’s almost like you’ve been waiting for me.” The humiliation I felt after that made sure I never texted her back again,” Aaron, a construction manager, shares with us.
No matter how you both ended things, try not to respond to the text immediately, even if it’s a lazy Saturday afternoon and your only entertainment is your cat licking her own fur. Instant replies hint at either interest or an unfulfilling life – and even if both might be true, don’t let your ex pick up on that. This is not about playing games, it’s about knowing if you really want to restart a conversation with a person who you have dated in the past.
What if the ex just wants to hook up and would want to do it with someone familiar rather than a stranger? In fact, it might even be a good idea to block your ex if they make you feel uncomfortable on any level. You might be the kind of person who does not ‘stay friends’ with their exes and the sudden texting might throw you off guard. So, before you slam a sarcastic emoji in their face, grab a tea or a book. Just take your time.
3. Don’t overthink
If exes come back when you stop caring, you’ve got to make sure you remember not to rush into anything and not over-indulge. If they have written, “Hey! Long time. How have you been?”, don’t conclude that the nasty text they sent to you while breaking up meant nothing, and that they want to get back together.
We suggested you to not reply too soon when exes come back after no contact. So, you spent three sleepless nights wondering about their true intention behind a simple ‘Hi’. After carefully analyzing every possibility, when you finally respond, it turns out all they wanted was the phone number of your dog groomer. Instead of overthinking about what they might want, you should focus on where you stand in this whole situation.
Jaseena tells us how to put a lid on overthinking. “If you’ve healed, you’re not going to overthink too much. If you’re looking to get them back, your imagination must be running wild. The only way to stop overthinking in this situation is by either ignoring the message or giving a very indifferent response, which basically screams out that your ex doesn’t matter to you anymore.” It’s easy to indulge an ex when you still have lingering feelings toward them. But don’t rush into setting a date for a catch-up over coffee.
Related Reading: 9 Reasons Ignoring Your Ex Is Powerful
4. When an ex contacts you years later, talk to someone about it
Derek, this guy who lives in my building, often shares his life stories with me as we cross paths in the hall. Yesterday, he said, “My ex and I are talking again. I am still not sure if it’s a good idea. So, I am trying to find someone to talk to, who will be unbiased toward my situation. Perhaps you could lend me an ear?”
When you get a text from an ex, all you’re probably thinking about is what they want. Once you give in to the temptation and reply to their message, you might be left utterly confused about their motivation for texting you. If you have a close friend or someone who knows your history with your ex, spill the beans about the text and ask for advice.
Tell them that your ex is trying to reach you. Getting an outside opinion from someone can prevent this thing from venturing into the tricky territory of hot-and-cold and help you maintain the blissful life you have been leading since the breakup. But if you’re reconnecting with an ex after 10 years or so, they might be texting you out of a sense of nostalgia and friendliness. Won’t hurt to text them back if all’s forgiven and forgotten.
5. If you have a partner, think of them as well
Your current partner might be aware of what went down between you and your ex. And if you are in a serious relationship, it is always better to loop your partner in on the little developments on the ex-front. Seeing your ex after a long time might effectively spell doom for your present relationship if you just assume your partner will be fine with this. You should be able to talk to whoever you want, but keeping your partner informed in this regard is wise. It will save you a lot of unnecessary fights in the future.
If you are in a monogamous relationship and your ex’s texting you is making your heart throb in your stomach, you need to spill it to your partner. If you still have feelings for this ex, and are considering the prospect of getting back together, don’t just jump into it. Your ex has been in your life for five minutes now and it is not okay to have a lovey-dovey conversation with an ex when your partner is sitting next to you. If the roles were reversed, how would you feel about it?
So, be a good human being and talk about it to your partner. The important thing to remember is to be honest. Don’t make up stories when your partner asks you, “Why would an ex contact you years later?” Be honest and tell them the truth about what your ex has texted you. That way, even if you break up with your partner and get back together with your ex, at least you gave them a heads-up.
6. What do you expect out of this renewed relationship?
Why would an ex contact you years later? Three words: Manage your expectations. Your ex might be a changed person – more decency, less infidelity. You might know this from what you have heard from your mutual friends. But how are you supposed to know that for sure? Before going down a path you have already been on, voice what you want from this renewed relationship – be it any kind. When an ex contacts you years later, just seeing their name pop up on your phone’s screen is going to set off fireworks in your brain.
“The expectations are usually running wild when you have not moved on completely. You might end up immediately assuming things like: “Is this a new start to our relationship? Will things be better now?” The best way to handle this is by understanding the fact that sometimes a text is just a text,” says Jaseena. Since you can never really know why they contacted you, you shouldn’t make assumptions about anything. For all you know, they’re just asking for their hoodie back.
Related Reading: 15 Clever Ways to Turn Down An Ex Who Wants To Be Friends
7. Don’t go looking for closure when an ex contacts you years later
Elena, one of our readers from Los Angeles, was still trying to move on after her partner ended things over an email. Before she had the chance to process this heartbreak, this ex-partner resurfaced out of nowhere. “She didn’t have the basic courtesy to offer me an explanation,” says Elena, “To this day, I wonder what went wrong in our perfectly happy relationship that she had to back off like that! Now, she wants to meet for coffee and I can’t resist myself because I still need that closure. How else do you handle an ex coming back when there is such a big, unresolved issue?”
Don’t let your ex pull the strings on you just for the sake of finding closure. If your only reason to respond to the text is to get that closure, it’s better to leave the text on seen. If they were unwilling or incapable of giving you closure themselves, reconnecting with an ex after 10 years isn’t going to do the trick. In such cases, the steps to ensure closure need to come from within.
If you are looking for an explanation, ask for it. But that alone won’t help you gain closure. Besides, you have no way of knowing whether your ex will be forthcoming and candid in their response. Closure takes effort and patience, and sometimes, the wounds won’t heal with an explanation. When an ex contacts you years later, make sure you don’t actively try to turn it into a guilt trip for them. It will only convey the message that you are still miserably hung up on them.
8. Learn from your mistakes
“My ex messaged me after a year. He got married but still contacted me for some reason. And then he behaved in such a way as if there’s nothing to be addressed about how awkward the whole situation is. He thought we’re friends and the fact that he cheated on me was very conveniently swept under the rug. It took a bunch of direct messages to make it very clear that I don’t want to contact him,” Ash, a 31-year-old activist, tells us.
If you have seen this behavior before from your ex, don’t dive in headfirst. Does your ex normally ghost you for many months and then re-establish contact like it’s the good old days? That usually means they’ve contacted you for some companionship and not for anything serious. If this companionship usually hurts you when they ghost you again, it’s better not to indulge in it. When an ex contacts you, you need to weigh the pros and cons practically.
Every relationship ends differently and there is no strict rulebook to follow when it comes to dealing with an ex contacting you years later. Each relationship has its own unique conclusion. So, depending on that, choose if you want to keep any contact with your ex.
Maybe your ex has actually stopped being an emotionally abusive person. But instead of telling yourself something like, “My ex contacted me after 2 years and I’m starting to think they have genuinely changed”, try to take a minute to assess the whole situation. And if everything else fails, go with your gut feeling when an ex contacts you suddenly.