Here’s What’s Going On When An Ex Contacts You Years Later


You just didn’t belong together and your relationship was well and truly over years ago. What you had is ancient history, and while you wish them well, you don’t even think about them anymore. So why are they reaching out now? Here’s what it means when an ex contacts you years later. Spoiler alert: it’s rarely for no reason.

Why this can be so jarring

  1. It reopens old wounds. Once you close the door on the past, you expect it to stay closed. But when your ex reaches out again out of nowhere, suddenly all the hurt and pain they caused you comes back to the forefront. Even if you processed what happened and worked through the emotions, they still have the power to make you upset or sad when you think about them.
  2. It brings back unwelcome memories. They might even be happy memories, but that doesn’t mean you want to think about them. It took you a long time to truly move on and quash your feelings for your ex, so it’s not helpful to be reminded of the good times between you. That was then, and those good times weren’t enough to keep you together.
  3. You were incredibly unhappy with them and have moved on. When an ex contacts you years later, it can really shatter the sense of peace and contentedness that you’ve achieved in your life since your breakup. You suddenly remember how toxic things were and what your mental and emotional state were like when you were together, and that can be upsetting.

What it means when an ex contacts you years later

  1. They’re feeling nostalgic. When an ex contacts you years later just to say hi or see how you are, it could very well be because they’ve been thinking about you. They were probably reminiscing on the good times and felt compelled to reach out because of it. This doesn’t necessarily mean they still have feelings for you, of course. It could just be that they felt a bit of tenderness or care for you and wanted to check in to see how life’s treating you.
  2. They want to get back together. Of course, there’s every chance that they do have feelings for you still. Maybe it’s suddenly dawned on them that you’re the one that got away and that they want to give it another go. If you just recently went public with a new relationship when your ex reaches out, it’s likely this event that predicated their call or text.
  3. They want to be friends. Immediately after a breakup is a very bad time to try and maintain a friendship with your ex. You both need time to heal, to work through what happened, and to grow away from each other. How long this process takes depends on the person, and it’s possible your ex is contacting you years later because they’re finally in that place.
  4. They want to apologize for their part in the breakup. Why did it take them so long, you ask? Who knows? Maybe they’re finally in therapy like you always suggested and finally realized they treated you like crap. They want to make amends and apologize even though years have passed. It’s a nice gesture, you guess, but you may or may not want to hear it.
  5. They need something from you. When your ex contacts you years later, you have to wonder if it’s for this reason. If you’re in a position to do something for them, they might be trying to call in a favor. Whether they want to connect because they’re trying to get a job at your company or they’re hoping you can lend them some cash, they may have an ulterior motive.

How you should respond

  1. Don’t. Just because they wanted to get in touch with you doesn’t mean you have to respond. Your relationship ended years ago and you both got whatever closure you needed then. If you’ve moved on with your life and have truly put things behind you, you may not want to talk to them. Depending on the reason your relationship ended, it might even be toxic or dangerous to get back in touch. If you don’t feel good about replying, don’t. In fact, delete their message and block them altogether.
  2. Be pleasant but keep your distance. If things didn’t end that horribly and you don’t want to be rude, you could respond to their message. However, you should be sure to keep things cordial and not overly friendly. This is especially true if you’re uncertain of their motives and you don’t want to be taken advantage of. Answer their questions and maintain your manners, but no need to go beyond that.
  3. Don’t allow them to pull you in. You ended the relationship for a reason: you didn’t belong together. Your life is different now. So, when your ex gets in contact years later, things just aren’t the way they used to be. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled in by their nostalgia or their attempt to wind you back around their finger. You have no unfinished business between you, so there’s really no reason to keep the conversation going. You should probably say what needs to be said and be on your way.
Bolde has been a source of dating and relationship advice for single women around the world since 2014. We combine scientific data, experiential wisdom, and personal anecdotes to provide help and encouragement to those frustrated by the journey to find love. Follow us on Instagram @bolde_media or on Facebook @BoldeMedia