Getting a text from an old lover is like a hit of a drug. It’s exciting and intoxicating, but responding will only leave me feeling hungover. Lately, I’ve been trying to ignore my exes when they reach out but it’s just so hard.
My heart races when I get a text from a former flame. It could have been an old partner or just someone I’ve slept with. Either way, I get a rush and a desperate desire to respond. Fortunately, this urge is dulling as I’m getting healthier. The initial desire erupts and then fizzles out when I think about the reality of the situation.
My first instinct is to want to answer right away. I want to engage and feel all kinds of feelings. Mostly, I’m chasing the validation from the other person. Whether I think they’re going to tell me I’m doing well or looking good, I want the compliments. I want to relive our relationship, however crappy. I realize I tend to have rose-colored glasses on. This is not good.
In the past, I’d always answer. I’d even send texts myself, not aware that I could open a whole can of worms that should have stayed shut. One time I started dating my high school sweetheart again 10 years later because of a simple text about a song that I sent him.
These days, I’m trying to pause. Some good advice I got was to “pause when agitated or doubtful.” I’m definitely doubtful and maybe sometimes agitated when an ex reaches out. I have to take a deep breath and step back. I just have to try not to react quickly in that moment. Instead, I need to give myself time to really think over whether I should answer or not. Doing so on impulse is rarely a good idea.
Not responding is uncomfortable. I wish I could tell you that I just shrug my shoulders and throw my phone over them because I don’t care. To the contrary, I care a lot. When someone texts me, I overthink about it like crazy. I get uncomfortable about it, feeling like I owe them a response or something. I think about how they’re reacting. I feel like they’re sad or angry, even though I have no idea.
Ultimately, not answering is the right move. Really, what comes from answering an ex? Little good. It may result in a fight, us hanging out, and/or sleeping together. None of those are outcomes I’m looking for. Maybe some people can talk to exes without having it be a crap shoot, but that isn’t me.
Most people don’t need a response. The reality is that I might just be getting a “you up?” text that was mindlessly sent in the middle of the night. The last text I got from an old flame was literally “hey, how have you been?” Most of the time these things absolutely don’t require a response. It may feel like it, it may feel appealing, but a response is unnecessary. If it’s super important and urgent, they can let me know.
I text a friend instead. I might say something like “X texted, I really want to text him back but I know it’s a bad idea so I’m texting you instead.” Most friends would be happy to receive this text and will support me all the way. They’ll keep my focus off of that damn person who doesn’t need to be in my life anymore.
I’m doing this as a part of SLAA. I’m in Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous and one of the things we do is abstain from “bottom line behaviors,” which are behaviors that are harmful to us. So, one of the things that I’m not supposed to do is answer exes or anyone I was emotionally or sexually involved with. It may seem strict, but it’s designed to keep me sane and healthy.
My peace of mind is most important. At the end of the day, I want to feel OK with myself. I want to go to sleep feeling alright. If that means I have to hurt some feelings along the way, it’s fine. They’ll be OK—I need to make sure I’m OK.
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