How To Text Your Ex After Going ‘No Contact’ For A While

At some point, everyone wonders whether texting their ex would be a good idea. It’s the most common shout yelled over the cubical doors in the toilets of all grungy clubs. Without fail, the response will come in hard with an urgent shriek: “NOOOO, girl!” Then we will all gather around the smudgy mirror and dripping taps and validate every inch of each other before going on our merry way. Usually, we know better than to reach out to our former partners. However, for the moments when we don’t have that support system and we’re a little more sober, here’s how to text your ex without backsliding.

  1. Take a beat. There’s no rush. You’ve made it this long without contacting them, this isn’t the time to send a drunk text. Any rom-com will tell you as much. Make a draft on your notes page to avoid accidentally sending anything embarrassingly early. Sit down to think about what you want to say.
  2. Unpack your intentions and expectations. Ask yourself: is this just a logistical text, or do you want a certain outcome? Do you expect to get together after catching up? What will you talk about and what will you tell them? More importantly, what are you willing to hear? If you stand to get hurt or just rehash the same issues and arguments that you broke up over, why are you texting at all?
  3. Will this serve you or them? If the breakup was bad, I wouldn’t bother texting them at all. Give each other space. However, if it was mutual and you still have friends and hobbies in common, that’s a different matter. It’s important to remain calm and always ask yourself what position you’re putting yourself in. If you’re going to meet up, pick a neutral venue in daylight, like a new coffee shop that doesn’t have any history attached to it. This is not the time to go to your favorite restaurant together or hang at his flat. Trust me. Things will get messy and you should never make your ex-boyfriend think he has a chance because he’ll run with it.
  4. Assert boundaries from the start. If you’re texting your ex to sort out returning their stuff, to negotiate over the TV, or to discuss the co-parenting of a child or pet you have together, be clear from the start. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t tell them what they want to hear, and stay honest. Stay professional. Be willing to compromise, but don’t let them walk all over you. If you bought the TV, it’s not up for discussion! Issues like childcare as well obviously are very complex and require a delicate hand, so come prepared with what you want to express. Give them time to express themselves too. Also, these meetings aren’t just about you. Remember that.
  5. Keep your distance. If you find things getting too intimate or familiar, step out of the picture. I would suggest a walk or a simple coffee shop. Not even a fancy, independent one – find a Starbucks. Don’t get lulled into old habits. Control the terms of the meeting from the start. Give yourself an out by meeting friends afterward.
  6. Ask friends for help. There’s nothing better for any creative endeavor than having a second pair of eyes. This is particularly true when trying to decide how to word a tricky text that you’ve been staring at for days. They will offer an insight that is knowledgeable and impartial. They will know what the situation requires. Never press send in a panic.
  7. Be civil. There’s no need to burn bridges unnecessarily. It will only bring up old wounds, and no one needs that. Equally, don’t go into it expecting any more closure either, that’s a lot of pressure. It might raise the stakes more than they need to be raised. Keep the text simple and formal and closely tied to the event or plan you’re making. No flirting, guys! Seriously.
  8. Use proper punctuation. I know that de-capitalizing the first letter of your text might constitute most of your millennial personality, but for now, keep things fully punctuated. This helps to materialize the formality and will be physical evidence that you mean business. It’s subtle but very clear.

There you are, a list which – although not exhaustive – covers most of the bases in the tricky business of talking with exes. As long as you make it more of a transaction of information rather than an intimate chat, you’ll be grand. If in doubt, always have a friend on hand for moral and literary support.

Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.