Whether it was a two-week fling or a mutual breakup, or an ex who had ghosted you and has resurfaced for closure, getting contacted by your ex years later will take some time to settle in. While you tactfully avoid tapping on the notification, it can throw your whole mojo off-balance.
If it was a nasty breakup, if you still have some resentment toward this person, you will have to fight the urge to not curse them out loud. If you have been ghosted and are in need of some closure from the ex, you will think a lot before replying.
Just the prospect of talking to an ex after years is bound to give you a lot of anxiety. 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.
8 Things To Do When Your Ex Contacts You Years Later
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 has brought back all the memories 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 enough attention when your present life is as fulfilling as it can get isn’t really worth it. When an ex contacts you years later, you need to focus on why he or she is your ex first.
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 from your past relationship 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.”
“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,” said Rebecca, talking about how texts from her ex ended up wreaking havoc in her life.
What to do if an ex contacts you after years isn’t the easiest thing to figure out. Here are 8 points to ponder before you decide to reply to that text. Remember, when an ex contacts you, you need to be answerable to yourself.
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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 honestly 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 with a bandaged wrist, it is wiser to leave the ex in the past. What if your ex got dumped and just wanted to feel wanted with you? But if you guys ended things mutually but have somehow not kept in touch for these years, having a quick convo over Instagram is not a bad idea.
Talking to an ex after years can haunt you with memories, so buckle up. Even so, think of yourself first. Your mental peace certainly comes before their ranting to you about their workload and unmet marital fulfillment.
2. You don’t have to reply instantly
“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 told us.
No matter how you guys ended things, try not to jump 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 the hint. 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.
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. 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.
3. Don’t overthink
When you’re contacted by an ex, you’ve got to make sure you remember to not rush into anything and not overindulge. If s/he has written, “Hey! Been a long time. How have you been?”, don’t overthink and conclude that the nasty text s/he sent to you while breaking up meant nothing and that s/he wants to get back together.
Jaseena tells us how we can possibly 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 probably because you still have lingering feelings toward them. Don’t rush into setting a date for a catch-up over coffee.
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4. When an ex contacts you years later, talk to someone about it
Your mother is likely the best person to talk to about this but no one ever listens to their mother. So, find someone, who will be unbiased, unprejudiced toward your situation to talk to. Perhaps your sibling, your best friend, or someone who has been there for you before.
If you’re reconnecting with an ex after 10 years, 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 guardian 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 who has more experience than you can effectively prevent this thing from venturing into the tricky territory of hot-and-cold dynamics with an ex and help you maintain the blissful life you have been leading since the breakup.
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.
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 of yours and are considering the prospect of getting back with the ex, don’t just jump into it.
Your ex has been in your life for five minutes now and it is not okay to hold a 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?
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, and also when they tell you that they’re a changed person.
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 them is by understanding the fact that sometimes a text is just a text,” says Jaseena.
Since you can never really know the answer to why would an ex contact you years later, 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.
If your only reason to respond to the text is to find some closure, it’s better to leave the text on seen. If they were unwilling or incapable of giving you closure, reconnecting with an ex after 10 years isn’t going to do the trick. In such cases, the steps to ensure closure can often 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. The only thing that’s going to achieve is to tell this person how hung up you are.
8. Learn from your mistakes
“My ex got married but still contacts me now and then as if there’s nothing to be addressed about how awkward the whole situation is. He thinks we’re friends and that the fact that he cheated has very conveniently been swept under the rug. It took a bunch of very direct messages to make it very clear that I don’t want to contact him,” Ayesha told 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 s/he ghosts 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, heartbreaking conclusion. So, depending on that, choose if you want any contact with your ex.
Maybe your ex has actually stopped being an emotionally abusive person, and you’ve started to convince yourself they’ve changed. But instead of telling yourself something like, “my ex contacted me after 2 years, and I’m starting to think s/he has 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.