So you’ve taken the plunge into no contact and everything is going well. You’re hitting the gym, you’ve got goals in place for yourself, and the hurt is starting to fade. You might even be meeting some new women. It seems like you’re on an elevator and the only way you can go is up. And then she strikes.
“Thinking of you”
“How are you?”
Suddenly, your progress comes screeching to a halt and questions flood your head. Why is she reaching out to me? What does she want? What should I do?
The questions are not only normal, but they are to be expected. I’ve had exes reach out to me years later, and still had the same questions shoot through my head. The good news about your situation: you’re in the driver’s seat. The bad news? Turning too hard in either direction can lead you off the upward road. Not to fear though, because with a little bit of emotional control, you can stay on track.
So, let’s look at everyone’s favorite question after an ex reaches out: Why did she contact me?
Generally, I’ve found exes contacting out of the blue fall into three main categories:
- They’re “thinking” of you because their forays into the dating market have not gone well or are currently not going well.
- An external event or a life stress has reminded her of you
- Special cases – children, logistics, etc.
“Thinking of you”
Let’s make something very clear from the get-go: people tend to take actions that reflect their emotional state and are in line with their prevailing thoughts at any given time. Women are especially prone to their emotional state and their line of thought fluctuating due to their hormonal cycle.
“So, that means they change their minds a lot, right?”
Take this into consideration when you’re contacted by an ex. Their mental state can change on a daily, or even an hourly basis. They might miss you for just long enough to send a text, but by the time you reply the feeling could’ve passed. Proceed accordingly.
One of the most common reasons an ex may reach out is to gauge your availability on the dating market. This is most common if you’ve only been separated for a short period of time (less than a year). After a breakup most women are going to at least explore their options on the dating market. Depending on the girl, this could be as simple as signing up for Tinder and swiping right on a few guys, all the way to banging their way through multiple men and having several relationships. It doesn’t matter how successful she is at all of this (at least to male eyes) because due to her emotional cycle she will have doubts, and if those doubts get strong enough, you get a thinking of you text.
How can you tell if her reaching out is based on her own dating endeavors going sideways?
You can’t, but she might give you clues. If she’s carrying the conversation and asking questions, she’s trying to feel you out. Women aren’t going to come right out and ask you out. If she’s reaching out to you and continues to carry the conversation even if you’re only putting in minimal effort, she’s hoping you’ll set a date.
Whether or not you should choose to, is up to you, but it’s entirely more important than what her motives are.
Sometimes an ex will also reach out to you because of a shared reminder. Whether it’s a song, a place you two went together, or something else entirely, you may be tempted to reminisce. Often, this can overlap with her feeling you out to see if you’re still on the market. Especially if it’s over the phone, you should NOT be doing this with an ex. Even if your outcome is to get back together, spending a ton of time chatting with her over the phone will not rebuild her attraction to you. Which is part of the reason that you should consider her reaching out to you a test of your emotional state.
If you’re not fully over her (even if you think you are) you’ll know it. I’m willing to bet if you’re reading this, you’re not quite there yet. When a serious (or even semi-serious) relationship ends, it does take a long time to fully put it behind you! Those strong emotions don’t fade overnight, and it’s important that you give yourself the time and space to heal.
So, what should you do?
It might be tempting to try to catch up, as it was for her, but ask yourself this. What do I have to gain by talking to her, versus what do I have to lose? Especially if a breakup is still fresh, talking to your ex before you’re ready can reopen those old wounds quickly and cause you pain for nothing in return. On the other end, it might do the same for her as well. Plus, if you really want to get her back, you’re going to have the best chance of doing so when she’s no different than any other girl you’re dating. You don’t want her to take precedence in your mind, because it will manifest outwardly and potentially scare her away for good if it hasn’t already.
That is why my general prescription is to delete the message and move on. If you really must talk to her, and the feelings are overwhelming you in the moment, stop and take a breath. Get a pen, and a piece of paper and write everything down that you want to say. Then, take the piece of paper, fold it up, and put it somewhere safe to revisit it 30-45 days later. If you just broke up, wait even longer. I’m willing to bet that the urge will have passed. Keep the letter however, as it will prove to be a value insight into your mind at the time.
At the end of the day, whether or not the breakup was your choice, it happened for a reason. Though you may regret it, and you may miss her, at the end of the day there was a reason that the two of you are not still together. If you can keep that reason in the forefront of your mind and resist the urge to take her bait, you’ll sooner be on the road to recovery.
“But Doc – I’m completely over her and want to catch up!”
So let’s assume you are actually over her completely. I have one question:
If you’re a busy guy, and you’re seeing other women and have a full circle of friends why would you want to catch up with an ex? How will that enhance your wonderful life?
At the end of the day, for 99% of you, talking to your ex will not enhance your life. Sometimes it really is best to let it go. Each of you has a wonderful capacity for love and achievement, and the risk of potentially engaging yourself in emotional turmoil makes catching up with your ex just not worth it, no matter how over it you think you are.
So, when you get that text this holiday season, smile to yourself at how far you’ve come, delete the message, and continue living your happy life.
You’ll be all the better for it.