Should I Text My Ex? 7 Do's & Don'ts Of Reaching Out To An Ex

Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor By Kelly Gonsalves
Contributing Sex & Relationships Editor
Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator and journalist. She received her journalism degree from Northwestern University, and her writings on sex, relationships, identity, and wellness have appeared at The Washington Post, Vice, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.
Should I Text My Ex? 7 Do's & Don'ts of Reaching Out After A Breakup

Sometimes, you still have more to say after a breakup. You have something you need to get off your chest before you can move on, or you want to apologize for something you did. Maybe you even want to get back together. If you're considering reaching out to an ex, thinking about what exactly it is that you want and how the other person will perceive your communication can help you make a better decision. Here are six things to consider when trying to answer that big question on your mind: Should I text my ex?

1. Don't text your ex impulsively.

Think before you text your ex. If you do reach out, be intentional. You should know exactly why you're reaching out before you do it, so you don't waste either person's time or stir up hurt unnecessarily.

A few questions to think about:

  • What exactly do you hope to gain by reaching out to your ex?
  • How do you hope the conversation will go?
  • Is this going to benefit them? Or will it only benefit you?
  • Could this potentially hurt your ex or make it harder for them to move on?

You don't necessarily need to cut off all contact with your ex to get over a breakup, but in some cases, the "no-contact rule" really is the most effective way to move on.

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2. Don't text if it's not going to be helpful for you both.

Ideally, you should only reach out if you really believe the communication will be positive for both parties. That means you probably shouldn't reach out just because you're lonely, sad, or horny. You also probably shouldn't reach out just to reiterate your point of view about what went wrong in the relationship, unless you really believe it'll help your ex feel better or grow. Reaching out to apologize to an ex for your hurtful actions can be really meaningful to them, as long as it's about making them feel validated and not just about clearing your own conscience.

Sometimes it can also be helpful to let your ex know the ways they've hurt you. In addition to giving you closure, the information can help them learn how to not repeat their hurtful behavior in future relationships. But if what you want to say isn't beneficial to your ex's growth or their healing process—or you know they're not likely to learn and change their behavior based on what you say—it may not actually be necessary or fruitful for you to reach out. You may benefit from just writing a letter or email airing out everything you want to say but never actually sending the letter.

3. Do be upfront.

Be clear about what you want when you contact them. When most people get a text or message from their ex, they'll immediately wonder, "What do they want?" Some part of them may suspect (or, depending on the situation, hope) you want to get back together. Be as direct and transparent as possible.

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If you want to get back together…

You can reach out and say, "I've been thinking about you lately and wanted to see how you're doing. Want to meet for coffee?" When you see each other, you can explain how you feel and why you think you two should give the relationship a second chance.

If your goal is closure…

You can also send a text asking to get coffee or to have a conversation, or you can just say what you need to say via text, email, or even a phone call. Either way, don't string them along. Be clear about exactly why you're reaching out so your ex isn't left wondering.

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4. Do be realistic about how your ex will respond.

Be aware of whether your ex can really give you what you need. If your goal is to get answers to questions you still have about the breakup, reach out only if you believe your ex has your best intentions at heart or if you believe your ex will be willing to give you honest answers. If your breakup was hostile, chaotic, or involved one or both people getting deeply hurt, understand your ex may not be willing to help you get better closure—either because they don't care about your well-being, they're too resentful, or they simply got too hurt and need to take care of themselves.

5. Do be respectful of their current relationship status.

There's no rule saying you can't text your ex just because they're in a new relationship, but do be considerate. If they seem genuinely happy with someone else, let them be happy. You can still reach out if you need closure or feel like you should apologize for something you did in the relationship, but be sure to directly state that you're not looking to get back together—you just want to talk.

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6. Do ask to meet in person when appropriate.

Consider whether what you want to say is best said over text, by phone, or in person. If you just want to apologize and make peace, a text exchange might be sufficient, especially if you think seeing each other face to face again might be too hard or too confusing. But if you want to discuss the possibility of getting back together, that's probably a conversation best had in person. If you feel like you don't fully understand why you broke up or there’s more to discuss about what happened in your relationship, that conversation might be a little too long and complex to try to have by text—an in-person meeting might be necessary to really get what you both need.

7. Don't continue to contact them if they don't respond.

If your ex hasn't responded to your texts, DMs, social media comments, or any other form of communication, it's time to back off. They might not want any form of communication with you, and you need to be able to respect their decision and their needs. Their silence says all you need to know about the prospect of getting back together or being friends again. Even if you're sending a thoughtful, well-worded apology text, understand that your ex doesn't owe you gratitude, forgiveness, or really anything.

The bottom line: If you're going to reach out and text your ex, be thoughtful and exercise a lot of empathy.

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