~ archived since 2018 ~

When Your Ex Contacts You...

Andrew
January 31, 2013
Hello there Andrew,

I reached out to you about three months ago regarding a man that had recently left me after three years. Well you will be happy to know that I have been dating and self-improving like its my job ;). Your keen advice had a major impact on the manner in which I handled the rejection.

So, my ex-boyfriend sent me a text message last week. It was one of those "Hey, thinking about you, just want to say Hi, how are you?" kind of text messages. Not wanting to sound bitter or unhappy, I gave him a three-word reply. He asked another question and I again gave him a very short reply. He stopped texting after that brief interaction.

Part of me is wondering if that was his attempt to hang out with me again and if he was testing the waters with a text message?

I gave him very uninterested answers which he caught onto quickly. Odds are he will not be trying to contact me anymore but I would really like to see him so that I can show-off a little bit. If my motives are not wanting to get back together but reminding him what he gave up, am I exempt from the "cutting him off rule"? Can I contact him in a few weeks to meet up somewhere casual?

Thank you for reading this!! ;)

Brooke
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Brooke,

Wow. This is the perfect example of how you are supposed to handle a man who contacts you after he breaks up with you. So many women would have gotten back in touch with him before he popped up again, or responded to his text with much more than three words. But you played it perfectly - I am impressed.

By the way, wasn't it so much sweeter getting that text after three months of silence than it would have been if you'd been in contact all along? There is absolutely no ambiguity about the fact that he contacted you for the sole reason that he was thinking about you, wondering how you were, and maybe even questioning whether or not he made the right decision in ending the relationship. The clarity of that fact is beautiful.

Now, in terms of showing him what he's missing, I'd be careful about asking him to hang out with you. True, you might sit there and tell him that everything is going fine (i.e. without him) - and it might even be true, as it is in your case. But he could easily misinterpret the fact that you wanted to spend time with him after only three months. After six months or a year, your desire to meet him would be more obviously a case of platonic curiosity about what he's been up to since you last talked. But after only three months, the fact that you made time to see him might outweigh the indifference you demonstrate in a face-to-face setting. So I suggest sidelining that idea for a few months (though I'm willing to bet that by then you won't care what he thinks; you'll probably just be genuinely curious to see what he's been doing).

The more important point, however, is that your silence already speaks volumes - especially because you never once broke it. Your replies, and in particular their brief and unmoved, matter-of-fact tone also communicated to him how much you've moved on. If you hadn't replied at all, he would have assumed that you were so upset or heartbroken that you couldn't bring yourself to talk to him (which would have been a fine way to handle the situation if this had been the case). And if you'd replied with more enthusiasm or tried to engage him in conversation, he would have assumed that you were still in love with him and trying to get him back. In either case, his ego would have swelled, even in spite of any feelings of sympathy or guilt he had. But your brief replies were at once so casual and indifferent that you can be sure his ego was kept in check, probably even deflated. Moreover, he was acutely reminded of his decision to walk away from a confident woman who respects herself and now has a promising future.

As I said, I am impressed. I hope things continue to go well for you.

Good luck,
Andrew
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Update: I had another e-mail from Brooke shortly after the one above, telling me that her ex contacted her again the next day, this time on Facebook, and said "ugh, just read through our log of messages, it takes me back. miss you [pet name]. hope you are well, I miss you a lot! im sure you dont want to hear that but its true..." She did not indicate whether or not she would reply, but it was clear that she viewed this - rightly - as a personal victory (not a victory over him) rather than an opportunity to get back together with him.

Men make mistakes. It is up to you to help them realize it by showing what life is like without you.

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If you liked this post, you'll definitely like my book, Beyond the Breakup. In fact, this post has been improved and significantly expanded as one of the chapters, and I explain some important attitudes to foster when you engage him. Most importantly, I give examples of what you can say to him, tailored for various situations.


Related Posts
1. Why Rejection Is a Good Thing
2. No, You Can't Be "Just Friends"
3. Cut Him Off

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