“Should I apologize to my ex? Or should I let it go?” It’s a battle between the heart and the mind. Snapchat throws memories at you from five years ago. And the sudden urge to unblock your ex takes over. You think about all the times you made them cry. The picture of their cute face melts your heart like ice cream. And you are down that rabbit hole of guilt and regret.
Maybe there were too many unnecessary fights. Or maybe you didn’t give them the respect that they deserved. Maybe you were so caught up in your issues that you became blind to their needs. All these maybes start messing with your brain and all you want to do is pour them out in the form of a long apology letter starting with ‘Dear ex’.
So, if you’re wondering, “Is it too late to apologize to an ex? Should I apologize to my ex for acting crazy?”, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. These useful pointers will help you decide if it’s worth reconnecting with your ex to apologize.
Should I Apologize To My Ex? 13 Useful Pointers To Help You Decide
Research points out that staying friends with exes out of suppressed feelings for them led to negative outcomes, whereas staying friends due to security and practical reasons led to more positive outcomes. So, the question of the hour is…Are you apologizing to your ex out of suppressed feelings for them or because you want to be civil and don’t want them to hold grudges against you? Consider the following questions to arrive at a wise decision:
1. Is the apology a dire need?
Apologizing to an ex years later only makes sense if you caused them a lot of pain and the guilt is still too hard to shake off. Did you physically or mentally abuse them? Or did you ghost them and weren’t mature enough to break up properly? Did you gaslight them or emotionally neglect them? Or did you cheat on them?
Scenarios like this can be difficult to get over. In such cases, you should surely apologize to your ex because you may have caused deep emotional damage. You might be the reason they have trust issues. If your apology comes from a place of sincerity, will bring you peace, and help you heal, then go ahead and apologize to your ex.
How to apologize to an ex? Just say, “I am really sorry for all the pain that I have caused you. I was so immature and you didn’t deserve to be treated that way. I know I should have known better. I have learned a lot and I’m trying to become a better person. I hope you forgive me someday.”
2. Is this a way to get them to apologize?
My friend Paul keeps asking me, “Should I apologize to my ex who dumped me? Maybe she feels sorry too, for what she did.” This is a classic example of the apology being conditional. Paul wants to apologize not because he feels sorry but wants his ex to feel sorry for what she did and ask for his forgiveness. So, if your objective is to get an apology in return, you should not apologize to your ex. No apology is better than an apology tendered with selfish and ulterior motives.
3. Is this just an excuse to talk to them?
I apologized to my ex and he ignored me. I was pretty hurt and crushed when he did that. To make sure you don’t have to go through that, I urge you to be honest with yourself. Are you wondering how to apologize to an ex because you want to take accountability for your actions or just because you want to hear their voice again? Is this because you are missing them like crazy and want their attention anyhow?
If the answer is in the affirmative, abort your mission right now. Go take a walk. Watch an interesting Netflix show. Complete that pending presentation from work. Sit with your parents and laugh on lame WhatsApp forwards. Go to a salon and change your hairstyle. Call up your best friend. Call up anyone EXCEPT your ex. Distract yourself.
4. You just got dumped
My colleague, Sarah, recently confided in me, “Should I apologize to my ex after no contact? The relationship I was in after breaking up with him just ended. I couldn’t talk to my ex while I was dating but now that I am single, I feel like saying sorry to my ex for being needy.”
The breakup has just triggered old trauma in her. She just needs to fill the void on an immediate basis. She also wants to jeopardize her ex’s current relationship. Can you relate to her? If you can, don’t go forward with the apology.
5. Can you stop at an apology?
Research has found that 71% of people don’t get back together with their exes, only 15% of those who get back together, stay together, and around 14% get back together but break up again. Before you act on your desire to rekindle a romance with an apology, know that the odds are stacked against you. Apologizing to an ex years later only to go down the rabbit hole of confusion is just not worth it.
So, ask yourself, “Should I apologize to my ex who dumped me? Can I stop at an apology? Am I doing it because I low-key want to get back together with them?” If your “I am sorry” can easily turn into “Hey, let’s give it another shot”, then trust me you are better off without apologizing.
6. Have you truly moved on?
Your relationship doesn’t need constant revisiting; only the song Summer of ‘69 does. So, ask yourself, have you truly moved on? If you are finding excuses to talk to them again and again, you have not moved on from them. If your intent is not right, this apology might just delay the whole process of moving instead of bringing you closer to healing.
So, instead of sulking about not getting closure, channel your energies into creating new memories in old places. Don’t keep your ex’s things around you. Don’t ask your mutual friends how your ex is doing. Reconnect with yourself (write about places you want to explore and food you want to try). Focus on the positives of the breakup and celebrate this freedom of yours.
7. Forgive yourself
Is it too late to apologize to an ex? Maybe. Perhaps, they are happily dating someone else. Or reaching out to them after no contact may get in the way of their efforts to move on. In such circumstances, reestablishing contact, even if it’s just to apologize, may not be a good idea. But you can always work on forgiving yourself. You can take the lessons that you have learned and apply them to your next relationship. It is never too late for that.
If your relationship was traumatic, there is a very real chance that your ex may respond negatively to your apology. They can say something like, “I don’t think I can ever forgive you for the pain that you caused. You are not worthy of my forgiveness. I hate you and I regret dating you.” This is the worst-case scenario but if you are not prepared for such harsh reactions, you should avoid apologizing to your ex. Working on forgiving yourself is hence better than begging for their forgiveness.
8. Ask yourself, “Do I need to apologize to my ex, or am I just beating myself up?”
Maybe you expected more out of yourself and can’t process the things that you did. And that’s why you go around asking your friends, “Should I apologize to my ex for being needy?” Listen, it’s okay. You messed up and now it is all in the past. At that time, you were wounded and didn’t know any better. The subconscious mind loves to bring in old memories. Don’t fall into the traps of “Oh, if only…” or “I wish…”. It all happened for a reason.
Related Reading: 7 Stages Of Grief After A Breakup: Tips To Move On
Write down all your suppressed feelings. Or let them out of your system by dancing, painting, or working out. Instead of punishing yourself, start taking proactive steps toward evolving in your speech, behavior, thoughts, and actions. Take the road of acceptance and introspection. Yoga and meditation can also help you a lot in loving yourself again. Also, maintain a gratitude journal and write in it every day.
9. Is your ex mature enough?
Still wondering, “Should I apologize to my ex?” Even if you do apologize, imagine the hypothetical reaction of your ex. Would they lash out and make you feel worse? Would they take it as a sign that you are not over them? Or would they accept this apology, forgive, and move on? If you were dating an immature person, the latter is unlikely.
So, you should be ready for all kinds of reactions. Stop if you know their reaction is going to hurt you. They might not forgive you right away and you should be okay with that. Only go forward with that apology if you are doing it with zero expectations. Your intention should be closure and letting go of residual guilt so that you can move on peacefully.
10. Maybe you are just going through a hard time
Maybe your parents got divorced. Or your job is just killing you from the inside. Or you just lost someone close to you. Such situations can trigger old trauma. Also, in such vulnerable times, you might feel like bonding with the person who was once very close to you. So, this need to apologize could be stemming from loneliness and wanting a shoulder to cry on. In this situation, the answer to “Should I apologize to my ex?” is “No”.
11. Recollect how your relationship made you feel
Was it a toxic and codependent relationship? Did it destroy you both from the inside? Did you become another version of yourself in that relationship? Did you spend most of your days crying? Remind yourself of all that mess and pain before asking the question, “Should I apologize to my ex for acting crazy?” Maybe, the crazy thing is wanting to revisit all that trauma.
If your ex cheated on you and you were not the one at fault, there is no point justifying their wrongdoings. Don’t blame yourself and definitely don’t say something like, “I am sorry I didn’t give you enough time. Maybe that is what made you cheat.” Their betrayal is not justified and you don’t owe them an apology.
12. Has no contact been good for you?
Is the no-contact rule working out just fine for you? Have you been a healthier version of yourself ever since you stopped talking to your ex? If the answer is yes, don’t let one weak moment take you down. Don’t apologize. Some self-control is all you need. Look for healthy distractions (like talking to people who are good for your mental health or channeling all those energies into your career).
13. Is staying in touch with your exes a recurrent pattern?
When I apologized to my ex and he ignored me, I realized for a fact that this was a deeper behavioral pattern. It involved more exes and more apologies. I realized that I was blocking my own happiness by keeping old memories so close to my heart. Turning a new leaf is only possible if old, dry leaves are crushed and forgotten.
Related Reading: Moving On From A Toxic Relationship – 8 Expert Tips To Help
So, ask yourself, “Should I apologize to my ex or should I work on myself instead?” If you are someone who keeps going back to people who are not good for you, there are definitely deeper patterns at work. Seeking professional help can help you recognize the childhood trauma that’s related to these patterns. Learning about your attachment style can help you find the answers that have eluded you for so long and understand why your relationship patterns. If you’re looking for help, counselors from Bonobology’s panel are here for you always.
- Before apologizing to your ex, you need to introspect on whether it truly is an apology or just an excuse to talk to them again
- You can go ahead with an apology if you think you can stick to getting closure and nothing more
- If your apology is conditional and you are expecting something in return, it is better to not talk at all
- Apologizing can backfire if your ex is not mature enough, old resentment gets triggered, or a never-ending cycle of blame games begins
- The only reasonable way to move on is forgiving yourself, learning the required lessons, and not repeating the same mistakes in your next relationship
Finally, let’s end with a quote by Helena Bonham Carter, “[If a relationship] isn’t forever, that doesn’t mean it’s a failure. The important thing is that you have to allow the other person to grow. And if they’re not going in the same direction, however heart-breaking, you have to do what is right for that growth. It’s hard to do something forever because life is very short.”
Depends on how toxic your relationship was, how mature your ex is, the intentions behind that apology, and your ability to stick to an apology and respect boundaries.
No, it’s not selfish. After becoming self-aware, we look back and realize how we caused pain to people unintentionally. Apologizing could have more to do with guilt, shame, and regret instead of selfish behavior.