We’ve all texted an ex before. Whether you’ve had one too many glasses of wine or just miss them (let’s be real, probably both), we’ve all made an excuse to text an ex whom we shouldn’t have been texting.
With the COVID-19 crisis resulting in the majority of us in quarantine, exes seem to be coming back from the dead through our phones. However, just because you’re feeling lonely in quarantine doesn’t mean texting your ex or replying to an ex’s text is a good idea.
The Psychology behind Texting an Ex
The main reason many of us feel the urge to text an ex (whether it’s during a pandemic or not) is because we feel lonely. Relationship psychotherapist Fran Walfish, PsyD, says, "Many people can't stop thinking about their ex obsessively to ease a feeling of loneliness. Others, who truly loved their ex, can't let go. Some are afraid of getting out there again, so they keep their former relationship alive as a way of staying involved and not feeling single again. There's only one way to finally let go of your beloved ex, and that is to begin dating, enjoy the dating process, and replace your ex with someone who values you and treats you better. The key factor is the readiness to (finally!) let go."
The main reason many of us feel the urge to text an ex is because we feel lonely.
That’s why it’s important to ask yourself the following three questions before texting your ex:
1. Why Do I Want To Text Him?
Chances are you’re feeling lonely and want a sense of comfort, still have feelings for him, or both. If you’re just feeling lonely (like we all are right now), texting him isn’t the best idea because it will likely lead to conflicting emotions. Reach out to your friends or family instead if you’re feeling lonely. They will do a much better job at cheering you up than your ex will.
If you still have feelings for him and were thinking of reaching out to him before the pandemic, a little “hello, how are you?” won’t hurt. If you still have feelings for him but weren’t thinking of reaching out to him before the pandemic, texting him isn’t the best idea.
2. Would I Text Him If I Weren’t In Quarantine?
If the answer to this question is...
...then don’t do it! If you wouldn’t text him if you weren’t in quarantine, then texting him now will only lead to disaster. This might be the only time I’ll ever say this, but listen to Michael Scott!
3. How Will This Work Out Long-Term?
This is probably the most important question you need to ask yourself. Though it seems like this will last forever, this pandemic will end, and we’ll go back to our regular lives. If you’ve been thinking about reaching out to him for a while and you still have feelings for him, ask yourself if you think the relationship will work out when this is all over. If the answer is yes, go for it. If the answer is no, don’t go for it. If the answer is in between, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons before reaching out.
What To Do If Your Ex Texts You
Our exes are often reaching out to us during this crisis for the same reasons we’re tempted to reach out to them: they’re lonely and want a sense of comfort too. Social Worker Letizia Rossi says, “In times of stress and crisis, our attachment style—the ways we relate to others in order to have our emotional needs met—can become activated, leading us to reach out.”
If you get a text from an ex, it’s still important to ask yourself these same three questions before replying. If you were already thinking about reaching out to him, there’s no harm in replying. If you’re under the impression that he’s just lonely and bored, it’s best not to respond or to tell him you’re not interested in reconnecting.
We’re living in a weird world with the COVID-19 pandemic. Wanting to text an ex or having an ex text you shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, but it’s important to think about why you want to do it and how it will work out in the long run before hitting “send.”