Breakup Advice: Call/Text/Snapchat the ex?

Social media stalkingOne of the most common questions I hear from clients seeking breakup advice is, “Is it okay for me to call my ex?” In short, the answer is, “Probably not” – at least not in the beginning. I say probably because there are always going to be extenuating circumstances, like if you live together and have to figure out logistics. But, overall you’re not doing yourself any favors by reaching out to this person. There was a reason for the break up, right?

In my experience, I’ve found that exes continue to talk to each other because they miss having that “someone” around. It’s old habit to say goodnight, or to text them for dinner plans on a random Wednesday. And, not having that just flat out hurts. So when you do call them and talk, of course it feels nice. It reminds you of that feeling of support that’s missing in your new post-breakup life. But that call or text, no matter how innocent, prevents you from moving forward. Just because it feels good in the moment doesn’t mean it’s going to be helpful long term. Any breakup advice that says differently is misleading.

I like to think of phone calls to the recent ex as a pain avoidance mechanism. You are in pain and reaching out will make you feel better temporarily. But if you’re just reaching out to make yourself feel better, you’re treating the “symptom” and not the cure. For example, if I have coffee breath during the day, I could pop a mint in my mouth. But that would only work for a short period of time. The real solution would be to brush my teeth – and, probably stop drinking coffee in the afternoon. But, that’s not a relationship I’m ready to let go of quite yet.

Not having contact after a breakup allows you to go through the emotional swings that are necessary to get better. Yes, it is painful and, yes, it is difficult. But these feelings are natural. Calling the ex after a breakup only makes it worse and lengthens the time it takes to feel better. That’s breakup advice you can put to the test.

– Jon

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