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

Updated June 13, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn

So, you’re thinking about your ex. Maybe, you haven’t spoken in years, but you’ve thought about them off and on and wonder what’s going on in their life. It could even be that you had a recent dream about your ex and it made you want to talk to them, or that you saw something they liked and reminded you of them. Perhaps, you feel platonically toward them, but it could also be that you feel like your love for them never went away. Either way, there’s a part of you that misses having this person in your life, or at least, there’s something you want to say to them that’s making you think about how to talk to your ex. So, how do you talk to your ex? Is it ever a good idea? If you’re wondering how to talk to your ex, here are some ways to think it through and prepare yourself to initiate a conversation.

Look At Your Intentions

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You saw something in your ex at some point. That’s why you were together. Are you wondering how to talk to your ex because you miss this person and want to be friends with them? Or do you still have romantic feelings toward them? Either one of these things is okay, but if you’re going to learn how to talk to your ex, you need to decipher why you’re doing it. If you’re wondering how to talk to your ex, it’s important to know your intentions because it will impact the way you contact them. For example, if all you want to do is apologize and you’re not looking for any interpersonal relationship with them, you will probably only talk to them once and will approach them differently. Alternatively, if you’re wondering how to talk to an ex because you’re looking to form a friendship with them or want to win your ex’s heart back, the first conversation might look much different.

You might ask how they’re doing and catch up. Even so, keep your intentions in mind because if you still have romantic feelings for your ex and it’s not just a case of wanting to be friends, you need to gauge if it’s healthy for you to contact them again. If there was a substantial problem the last time you were together and you went through a lot of emotional pain during the relationship or break up, know that you will have to work through those things if you decide to get back together. A 2009 study revealed that the most common reason people get back together is lingering feelings. Companionship was the second most common reason, and familiarity was the third. So if you’re looking to win your ex’s heart back, you’re not alone, but there are certainly some things to consider.

Are There Ever Times That You Absolutely Shouldn’t Talk To Your Ex?

There are times when it might not be a good idea to talk to your ex, and then there are times that you absolutely shouldn’t reach out. If the relationship was abusive in any way, whether that’s emotionally, physically, sexually, or financially, don’t talk to your ex. Even if you believe that they’ve changed or that you’ve changed, the risk of bringing someone abusive back into your life is not a good idea. Additionally, avoid talking to your ex to pick a fight. If you’re only talking to your ex because you’re angry at them, it’s also probably not a good idea to talk to your ex. If you need to let off some steam and work through whatever happened in a previous relationship, therapy is a great place to let it out and to find healing from that relationship. It’s more productive than trying to get through to an ex who may or may not hear what you’re saying.

What About Times That You Should Talk To Your Ex?

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You’re never obligated to talk to your ex for the most part. The exception is if you have something important that’s theirs, such as a valuable possession or an item that means a lot to them. Another limitation is, obviously, is if you have kids together. In that case, you generally can’t avoid having some form of contact with them and might want to know how to talk to your ex civilly. Other than that, there are few reasons to feel morally obligated to speak to an ex-partner. If the only reason you want to know how to talk to an ex is out of obligation, you’re likely in the clear. If you and your ex had something connected, such as a business together, and they need help with something related to that venture, or you need to wrap something up related to it, do so in the most amicable way possible. Please keep it civil and remind yourself that engaging in arguments or using a sarcastic tone will almost always make it worse. When thinking about how to talk to your ex, the tone of voice will always be relevant. The golden rule when thinking about how to talk to your ex is to keep it positive. If you’re wondering how to talk to your ex without things going sour, avoid talking about harsh topics or using harsh tones.

How To Start A Conversation With Your Ex

The best way to start a conversation with your ex will differ depending on where you two left off. If it’s an ex that you haven’t talked to in a long time and don’t have bad blood with them at all, you can keep it casual. You can say, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you, and just as a friend, I was wondering how you were doing.” If you hurt this person or the relationship had gone sour when you spoke to each other last, it might look a little bit differently. You might open with an apology or start by letting them know that you just wanted to check in with them and see how they’re doing but that you respect it if they don’t want to talk to you. You have to be cognizant of the fact that an ex might not want to talk to you. If that’s the case, respect their wish. Some people heal from relationship wounds faster than others, and that’s okay. If you’re wondering how to talk to your ex, one thing that you shouldn’t do is talk about your new relationship. At least, avoid talking about it extensively or at the beginning of the conversation. Even if your intentions are innocent in thinking about how to talk to your ex, if you talk about your current partner, it may make it look like you’re talking to them only to rub it in their face.

Ice Breakers

If you’re in the clear and have decided to talk to your ex but aren’t sure what to talk about, there are some icebreakers you can use to catch up.

Ask about something they’re interested in

In general, if you want to talk to someone, the best thing to do is ask about something that they’re passionate about. People love to talk about their passions. So, for example, if your ex is in a band, you can ask how the music is going.

Ask About Their Job

Even if they’re not at the same job they were at when you were together, it’s a conversation starter. You’ll learn something new about their life and how it’s progressed since you last talked.

Ask About Their Family

Many of us get close to our partner’s family when we’re together. So naturally, you’d wonder how your ex’s family is doing as long as your ex has a good relationship with their family; it is a safe and caring way to break the ice when you’re talking to them.

Congratulate Them On A Recent Accomplishment

Maybe, your ex just graduated from college or got a promotion at work. This is a great reason to reach out to your ex. even if nothing comes of it; it gives you a chance to wish them well and show that you want the best for them.

Another simple way to approach an ex is with small talk. Small talk can help you get a feel for if your ex is open to further conversation or not. But, again, avoid jumping into heavy topics right away, and again, don’t lead into a conversation about your new partner or less-than-casual questions about theirs.

How To Bring Up Getting Back Together

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If you’ve been talking to your ex for a while and feel like the chemistry is there, you might be interested in getting back together with them. First, read the room. See if they’re dropping any hints that they’re still interested in you romantically. If they are, you can sit down with them and talk about getting back together. Collaborate and make sure to discuss anything that went into your breakup last time so that you don’t follow old patterns or trends in the relationship and caused things to go poorly. If things didn’t go badly at all and there wasn’t any discord that led to the breakup (for example, maybe it just wasn’t the right time), talk about why things are different now. Again, you don’t need to run into the same issue twice if it can be avoided. If you want to get back together and are determined to make it a success, one thing that you can do is pursue is couples counseling. Couples counseling is shown to improve relationship satisfaction, and it’s a great tool to use to work through any obstacles you have.

With all of that said, you must respect their choices if they don’t want to get better or feel the same way. Being in a one-sided relationship is no fun. If they don’t want to get back together with you, as much as you think you may want it, you shouldn’t pursue it. A healthy relationship is one where both people want to be there, and if you don’t have that, neither of you will be happy long-term.

Online Counseling

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Online counseling is an excellent place to talk about relationships individually or work through relationship concerns with a partner. You can also speak to a counselor one-on-one if you want to talk to your ex but have a unique circumstance or aren’t sure what to do with that desire. Whether you see a counselor online or in your local area, a licensed counselor or therapist will be there to support you and give you an open seat to talk about what’s on your mind. The mental health providers at ReGain are adept at helping you with a wide variety of relationship concerns, including thoughts about your ex. Search the network of counselors and therapists at ReGain today and find the best fit for you.

References:

Short and long-term effectiveness of couple counseling: a study protocol

On-again/Off-again dating


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