If you’ve ever thought “Hmm, should I text my ex?,” you likely already know the answer is no. And yet, despite everything and everyone telling you it’s a bad idea, you give in and text your ex anyway. In some of these cases, it may work in your favor. Maybe you receive closure or you get that little bout of attention you were looking for. But in most cases, you feel like sh*t afterward, and there’s instant regret.
Blame it on the loneliness, the nostalgia, or even the seven White Claws you drank earlier in the day, but when it comes down to it, texting your ex is hardly ever the move. And 99.99 percent of the time, it’s going to make you feel worse than you did before.
But because there are always exceptions to the rule, we spoke with relationship expert Nicole Moore, who laid out some clear guidelines on when it may be acceptable to text your ex — including if you should text your ex on their birthday, when you’re drunk, and if they text you first.
Of course, you can choose to do whatever you want. And if you’re really feeling a pull to text your ex, then by all means, text your ex. But if you want some help, support, and distraction as you pry your fingers away from texting your ex “IMY,” we have some guidance for you below.
Should I Text My Ex?
If you’re on the verge of texting your ex, pause for a second. Take a deep breath, sip some water, put away your tequila and shot glass — whatever it is you need to do to make yourself stop and think before hitting send. Then, ask yourself the following questions.
- Will I be OK if they don’t text me back? Before sending a text, you need to accept and be OK with the worst possible outcome, which may be no response at all. “If texting your ex and not hearing back from them will send you into a spiral of unworthiness, just don’t do it, because it’s not worth the risk,” Moore says.
- Do I really want to talk to them, or am I just feeling [insert negative emotion]? If you’re texting your ex because you feel sad or lonely or needy, trust that your ex’s response won’t magically make you feel better. “It’s much better to text your ex when you’re feeling good about yourself and confident than when you’re feeling insecure and needy,” Moore says.
- What do I want from this interaction with my ex? In other words, think about what your ideal outcome from texting your ex is. “If you’re confused, it’s better to do nothing and wait until you have clarity. An ex can’t solve your confusion and might even make it worse,” Moore says.
- Would I be happy in a few weeks knowing I texted my ex right now? “If you’d be happy that you spoke up and texted, then your desire to text your ex is likely coming from a true place,” Moore says. But if you’d cringe, “then your higher self is probably tapping you on the shoulder right now screaming, ‘Don’t do it.'”
Should I Drunk Text My Ex?
Honestly, there’s a lot of things we do when we’re drunk that we probably shouldn’t — and texting our exes is one of them. “We’re almost never our true best self when we’re drunk,” Moore says. And chances are, whatever you say will come off the wrong way, even if you have good intentions.
Instead, Moore suggests writing whatever you want to say in your notes app in your phone, then reading it the following morning with sober eyes. If sober you approves, then that may be a good indication that you should send the text. If sober you does not approve, be happy you wrote it in your notes instead of to your ex.
Should I Text My Ex Happy Birthday?
This largely depends on how you still feel about your ex, Moore says. It’s generally understood that if someone sends you a happy birthday text, it means you hold a special place in their heart. So if you want to convey that message to your ex because you’re still interested in them or you want to let them know they’re still on your mind, a happy birthday text will get that point across.
But if there are no feelings there, it may not be a good idea to text your ex. However, if you really want to wish your ex happy birthday without coming across as still interested, Moore suggests reaching out on social media instead, which could be seen as less intimate than texting them directly and privately.
Should I Text My Ex Back?
Again, this depends on your feelings toward your ex at the moment. If you want to get back together with your ex or you need closure from your breakup, then definitely text your ex back if they reached out first, Moore says. Just understand that their attempt to reach out to you may not mean they want to get back together. “Let them lead the conversation if they’re the one that reached out first so you can get a sense of what their true intentions are.”
If you don’t want to get back together with your ex or you already have the closure you need to move on from your relationship, treat your ex how you would a friend or old acquaintance. “If you wouldn’t leave other people who you know or care about on read, don’t leave your ex on read either,” Moore says. “Take the high road and be cordial and respectful.”
There’s a good change “you’re probably curious about what your ex is up to anyway, so responding back to their text is the perfect way to scratch that curiosity itch,” Moore adds. But of course, no need to respond if you feel like the conversation will only bring negative energy back into your life.
And remember: context matters when it comes to returning a text from an ex. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to answer a text in the middle of the night and/or if it’s an obvious booty call.
“If your ex didn’t take the effort to even type a full sentence out but instead said something like ‘hey,’ ‘call me,’ or ‘miss you,’ don’t feel obligated to respond. These kinds of texts from an ex are usually just a hook to grab your attention and feed off of your energy without your ex being willing to invest anything back,” Moore says.
Should I Text My Ex Who Dumped Me?
In most cases, closure is found from within yourself instead of from an ex who likely isn’t going to provide any insightful information for you anyway. But if you’re left with unanswered questions from a relationship or truly don’t understand why your partner did or said something, then it may be a good idea to text your ex, Moore says.
Just remember that if your ex treated you poorly or if the breakup ended badly, you likely won’t receive the closure and respect you’re looking for. “If you’re going to text them, be optimistic but also cautious,” Moore says. “Go into it knowing that they could fully just retrigger you again by not giving you what you want and acting poorly. That way, if it happens, you’re not shocked. And if they give you the closure you want, you’re wonderfully surprised.”
How and What to Text Your Ex
If you feel confident you’d still like to text your ex, keep the initial text light and friendly, Moore says. Treat this person how you would an old friend or acquaintance, for example.
You can say something like: “Hey, I know you might be surprised to hear from me since it’s been a while but you were on my mind and I wanted to reach out. How are you doing?” This way, you can gauge where your ex is emotionally before leading with your feelings.
You can also send them a link to an article, a quote about something, or a picture that genuinely reminded you of them. “This can be a great way to establish rapport again,” Moore says.
Then, lead the conversation in whatever way is productive for you. Make your intentions clear, and go in with little to no expectations of what your ex will say or how they will respond.
“The best thing you can do is text your ex right before a Spin class, a movie, a work meeting, or somewhere where you can’t be constantly checking your phone to see if they responded and you’re fully engaged in something else,” Moore says. “Give them energetic space to respond, and you’ll likely get a much better outcome than if you send the text and then stare at the phone every five seconds anxiously waiting for them to respond.”
And if they don’t respond, no worries. You can move on from the situation knowing you put yourself out there and attempted to try, which can provide its own kind of closure.