How To Talk To Your Ex: Is It Ever A Good Idea?

Updated August 17, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

The end of a relationship can be a painful and confusing experience. In the weeks and months after your breakup, you may oscillate from feelings of pain and hurt to a sense of calm, acceptance, and even relief. 

While some degree of emotional upheaval is common, many people emerge from breakups with a deeper understanding of themselves and their future relationship goals.

During this process, you may feel compelled to contact your ex. Perhaps you’re curious about their thoughts and feelings about your breakup, or simply want to know what they’re up to and share your own life updates.

Whatever your situation, there are numerous reasons why you might want to talk to your ex. If you’re trying to decide whether it’s a good idea to reach out, the following considerations can help you make the best, healthiest decision for you. 

When Should I Talk To My Ex?

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Wondering Whether You Should Reach Out To Your Ex?

Only you can decide when and how to talk to your ex, but many therapists suggest waiting for a period of time before reaching out. For many ex-couples, it’s helpful to wait at least 30 days before speaking to each other after the breakup. This window of time gives both people an opportunity to reflect, rest, and seriously consider what they’d like to say to each other.

Reasons To Talk To Your Ex

There are several valid, healthy reasons why you might choose to talk to your ex. While this list represents some of the most common reasons, you may have other reasonable grounds to talk to your ex.

1. You Want To Tie Up Loose Ends.

During the actual breakup, you may have found it difficult to communicate your thoughts and emotions in a clear, succinct fashion. Breakups can be emotionally intense – and sometimes, you’re not able to articulate everything you’d like to say. Both people may express themselves in anger, frustration, and other emotions that make it difficult to communicate with clarity and kindness. 

If you’re interested in “checking in” and addressing any emotional loose ends from the breakup, take plenty of time to process your feelings and consider your ex’s needs before reaching out. They may need more or less time to recover from the initial breakup, and it’s important to honor both of your needs.

2. You Want To Maintain A Friendship.

Depending on the nature of your breakup, a friendship with your ex can be a realistic and natural evolution of your former relationship. After processing old wounds, restarting a friendship with a former partner can be fun, enriching, and even healing. It can be difficult to let go of someone you care for deeply, and friendship may allow you to stay in each other’s lives.

3. You’re Parenting A Child Together.

Parenthood is one of the most common reasons for exes to stay in regular contact, even years after the initial breakup. Even if you don’t live in the same area as your ex, you may travel to visit your child and provide emotional and financial support.

Co-parenting can be complicated – but with clear and thoughtful communication, parenting with your ex can also be a rich and rewarding experience. Research suggests that when exes effectively cooperate as co-parents, their communication benefits the well-being of their children as well as their own emotional health.

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When Should I Avoid Talking To My Ex?

While there may be many reasons to talk to your ex, there’s an equally valid list of reasons to avoid contacting them and let go of the relationship. 

The primary reasons to avoid contact with an ex include abuse, toxic behavior, and other deeply rooted, long-term issues that may have contributed to the breakup.

Both physically and emotionally, your safety is always the top priority. If you have any safety concerns, take care of yourself first and enforce a strict no-contact rule with your ex.

5 Tips For Reaching Out To Your Ex 

If you’ve decided to contact your ex, you may be struggling to find the best time and place to check in, as well as the right words to communicate your intentions. These five tips can help you prepare for the conversation and express yourself fully.

1. Accept Your Role In The Breakup.

If the end of your relationship was explosive, emotional, or otherwise upsetting, you may need to address any lingering resentment and guilt about your past behaviors. 

Identifying your role in the breakup is an admission of honesty, and also invites your ex to be open with you about their role in the breakup. 

While this subject can be uncomfortable, acknowledging your roles and admitting past mistakes clears the way for more honest, vulnerable, and cathartic conversations with your ex. 

2. Practice Forgiveness.

Whether we’re extending it to ourselves or others, forgiveness is a powerful tool – especially if you’re thinking about talking to your ex. You may feel anger toward your past partner, but also toward yourself – especially if you behaved in a way that contradicts your typical approach to intimate relationships and emotional discussions.

Self-forgiveness is a critical aspect of mental health and restoring relationships. If you’re interested in maintaining any kind of relationship with your ex – whether it’s a deep friendship or a casual connection – finding forgiveness can help you move on from past hurts, let go of anger, and invest your energy in other meaningful connections.

3. Establish Clear Boundaries. 

If you and your ex decide to maintain a friendship after your breakup, talking about boundaries is key to a healthy, lasting connection. 

Clear boundaries can help you establish your new normal. While personal definitions of “normal” vary greatly, they can refer to your daily routines, habits, and frequency of contact with your ex.

When you speak to your ex after a period of zero-contact, you may decide how often you want to see each other; whether or when you’ll open up about new romantic relationships, and any other subjects that may be tricky to discuss with each other in the aftermath of a breakup.

Over time, your boundaries can evolve to reflect your shifting needs and the friendship you build together.

4. Think Before You Speak.

Both before and during a conversation with your ex, think through your options and consider the implications of restoring contact. Ask yourself: why do I want to reconnect with my ex? Am I prepared to listen to understand their perspective, or am I more likely to vent my anger, frustration, or confusion? 

Any of these feelings are valid and expected, especially after a painful breakup. However, if you’re unsure how you’ll react when in the same room or even on a call with your ex, take time to reflect before sharing these feelings with your ex. With a calm state of mind, you can reinitiate contact in a way that benefits you, your ex, and anyone else affected by your relationship. 

5. Find Closure.

For some exes, keeping in touch after the end of their relationship may be unrealistic or even unhealthy. If the relationship was toxic, abusive, or manipulative in any way, it may be best to end all contact with your ex and move forward with your life.

Whether you’re ready for closure or interested in restoring a friendship with your ex, a licensed therapist can empower you to make the best, healthiest decision.

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Wondering Whether You Should Reach Out To Your Ex?

Therapy Can Help You Heal From Past Relationships

While some people prefer traditional, in-person therapy, a growing number of both individuals and couples use online therapy to address their mental health needs and relationship goals. Using a digital platform like Regain, you can quickly connect with a board-certified therapist after completing a brief questionnaire. Every Regain therapist has at least three years of professional experience, and many are well-versed in the complexity of communicating and restoring friendship with an ex.

Several studies show that online therapy can be an effective tool for couples and families, including a 2022 study of the effects of the COVID‐19 pandemic on family therapists’ delivery of online therapy. Based on survey information from a sample of 626 family systems therapists, the researchers noted a dramatic increase in online therapy: 7.92% of family therapists used teletherapy before the pandemic, compared to 88.17% during the pandemic. The study highlighted the value of teletherapy for families with transportation challenges, childcare needs, and other conflicts that traditionally limit connection to psychotherapy.

Takeaway

Talking to an ex is rarely easy – but by taking time to reflect on the relationship, you can approach this conversation with confidence and clarity. If you’re wondering how to talk to your ex, keep these five tips in mind and always prioritize your physical and emotional well-being before reaching out.

A therapist can help you determine whether it’s a good idea to talk to your ex and how to frame your conversation. Whether you decide to end all contact or maintain a friendship, you can make a decision that honors your health and healing process. 

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