should you text your ex? answers here

texting is a good way to reconnect with your ex provided you do so after a suitable break. time apart helps the dust to settle and the bad feelings to subside. this increases the odds they will be receptive to you. so, the important thing here is timing.

so how long is long enough?

the exact timing depends on the degree of drama and upset that was present when breaking up. as a rough rule, the more drama there was, the longer you should wait. basically, it’s okay to text your ex once sufficient time has passed.

what else?

well, it’s also okay to drop a simple message on their birthday or other special occasions, again assuming enough time has passed since the breakup.

basically, don’t text your ex while they’re angry or upset with you. wait until those feelings have passed before making contact.

and when you do text, keep it light —avoid heavy or serious relationship talks. your goal is to slowly rebuild positive emotions over time.

certainly don’t text just to avoid grief over the breakup!

and whatever you do, you must not appear needy or desperate.

bottom line: with the right timing, mindset, and message, a text is a good way to reconnect with your ex. but use caution and don’t send multiple messages at once.

want to know more? keep reading for the specifics.

to text or not to text?

should you text your ex or what? it depends on your situation and goal. but it’s not hard to figure out the right answer once you understand a few principles that govern all relationships. which i will show you.

and guess what? whether you’re looking to reconnect with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse, the same fundamentals apply. male or female, straight or gay, human relationships follow certain formulas. so don’t fret.

when should you text your ex?

context and sensitivity to what your partner might be feeling are key to knowing when it is okay to text your ex.

for example, if you just broke up, you both need space to regroup. and avoiding all forms of contact is the best idea.

or, if your partner is upset with you, you will want to withdraw for a while.

tip:

get yourself to the stage where you accept and seek nothing in return from your ex. then you will have a strong position to work from no matter what medium you use to contact your partner.

expectations are the enemy. if you’re needy and in pain, you will feel dejected and unapproved if your ex does not respond or answer how you want.

screen capture of a text conversation asking when it is ok to send your ex a text message

—texting your ex is ok in only these 3 situations, according to expert

any situation can be ok to text your ex if the context is right. but, after coaching hundreds of relationship clients, these three rules are good:

rule 1: it is ok to text your ex after sufficient time has passed

texting is a great way to restart communication after a suitable break. let the dust settle and your ex will be more receptive.

i can not stress this enough.

the important thing is timing…

so how long is long enough?

the exact timing depends on the degree of drama and upset that was present when breaking up.

the more drama there was, and the greater the upset? the longer a break must be.

another factor is how long you had been together.

the longer the duration, the longer the break.

i made a simple “how long” calculator which could be useful for you if you are stuck. i talk more about this with email subscribers.

in most cases, waiting a few weeks will be sufficient. after which, it will be safe to reopen the communication lines (with a text that tests the waters.)

rule 2: it is ok to text your ex on special occasions (if enough time has passed since the breakup…)

special occasions throw people off. we don’t know what to do for the best. we worry about what it may mean if we don’t send a text, e.g., “what if they think i don’t care about them?”

we also worry about what it may mean if we do send a message. e.g. “what if i ruin their day?”

but, in general? if sufficient time has passed (see rule 1,) it is ok to drop a simple message.

if it’s their birthday, for example, you can wish them a happy birthday. and, i wouldn’t say more than that in most cases (keep the message short.)

if the special occasion is not right after breaking up, you should be safe.

this is not a black and white rule, of course (none are.) use your judgement. and keep reading. because other factors we are about to address may better inform your decision.

basically: if enough time has passed, you can check in and wish them luck on tests etc. and, they will know you are thinking of them. that’s a good result (though don’t use these occasions as excuses to tell them how you feel.)

rule 3: texting is ok when your ex no longer feels hurt and angry

you want your ex to feel comfortable hearing from you. enough so that when your name appears on their phone, they don’t panic and flee to the hills.

if they are emotionally unstable and broken, it’s better to hold fire. in other words, put your phone down.

of course, it’s hard to read the situation, and you are not a mind reader. this is why we wait a while before making contact. the idea is that with time, the hurt feelings and negative emotions will subside.

when you reach out, if you get signs your ex is still hurting and angry, retreat.

on the other hand, it’s safe to text your ex when you have proof that they want to hear from you, and they are calm. simple.

if they are no longer angry with you, or gasping for breathing space, you have the green light to begin contact.

special mention: use self-awareness to check why you are reaching out. if it is to avoid processing the pain and grief of breaking up, stop. it is better to address that before you start the contact process.

when shouldn’t you text your ex?

ok, so when should you refrain from reaching out?

sometimes doing nothing is better than doing something.

use the following 7 rules to determine when you should not text your ex:

—when not to: the 7 rules

if you stick to these rules, you won’t go far wrong:

rule 1: do not text your ex immediately after you break up

you now know it is bad to text your ex right after the breakup. it is better to wait for the dust to clear.

caveat: if you split up amicably, abstaining from contact is less important. and it’s the same if you share responsibilities like children, work, or bills. in fact, you must take care of your shared obligations. which means communication lines need to remain open.

where possible, it may be advantageous to wait. if waiting is not possible, you’ll need to adapt.

rule 2: never send texts when your ex is angry with you

this overrides all other rules. which means, if plenty of time has passed and it is a special occasion? stay clear. the same goes if your ex is upset with you or has recently been hurt by something you did.

rule 3: strongly consider leaving your ex well alone if it was an abusive relationship

if the relationship was abusive for you, your efforts are better spent moving on.

ask yourself, “why would i want to get back in touch with an abusive partner?”

rule 4: do not start a conversation —text or otherwise— when you are feeling extremely needy

avoid the urge to talk when you are not feeling good. you must not put your partner in that position. and doing so only hurts your chances.

rule 5: consider not texting your ex if they are incapable of sharing responsibility (and has a pattern of that)

do not chase a partner who does not have the heart and maturity to recognise their role in an equal partnership. i know that’s hard to hear. however, your future happiness might be at stake.

rule 6: refrain from contacting your partner if your motivation to do so is to avoid grief and pain

your partner will not want to be texted if the reason is that you see them as a kind of pain killer.

rule 7: texting is not ok when your ex feels their personal space is being threatened

if your partner feels trapped and controlled, they will not want to hear from you.

at least not for a good while.

it’s difficult to guide you on this one without one-on-one interaction, but you need to tread carefully. and try to anticipate what your ex will find acceptable.

8 things you should never text your ex

should i text my ex? not if you do any of these:

  1. fake accidental messages: “whoops, didn’t mean to send that.” oh come on…;
  2. complaining: don’t whine or complain about anything in your messages;
  3. requests for answers: don’t ask your ex to reply, or ask if they got your message. just send, and let it go;
  4. serious talk: don’t talk about the relationship or about what went wrong. keep conversation light.
  5. don’t say, “i’m thinking of you”;
  6. don’t beg or show signs you are desperate;
  7. don’t apologise in a text: do that in a handwritten letter, or in person;
  8. one-word texts: check you are not sending single word messages.

frequently asked questions

—when should you text your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend?

you should not text your ex at all to begin with. then rarely after a decent break. then, if they are friendly enough, a little less rarely. and, if the good vibes continue, you can increase the frequency.

—when is it acceptable to text your ex?

if you have agreed to give space for 3 weeks, wait 3 weeks.

or, if your ex tells you never to contact them, give it a month or so. they may feel differently by then. but don’t write a wall of text. and don’t pressure them.

the point is, after a break, you can only find out by finding out.

—can you text your ex first thing in the morning or late at night?

i do not recommend texting your ex early in the morning or late at night. you risk appearing needy and like you have nothing better to do.

—what about being friends with your ex?

you can be friends with your ex. and, friendship is not going to close you off from anything more. that’s a myth.

you must not put your life on hold, but that does not mean you can not be friends with your ex.

it is a label. nothing more. “friends.”

people make a fuss about getting out of the friend zone and i understand why. but when you look closer at what is going on, it is really no problem.

on the journey to something more, you should expect to be friends for a while.

—what if your ex has a new relationship?

while not ideal, it is far from over when your ex is dating someone else. if your ex is in a new relationship, you can still text them if you know what you are doing.

for example, your ex might be in a rebound relationship. if you have not been apart for long, they will not have gotten over you in time. starting a new relationship too soon makes it a rebound.

the problem with rebounds is they don’t typically last. when one person brings baggage into the relationship, they are not ready for the relationship.

the result? sooner or later the cracks show.

if you can, stay in touch while they are in the new relationship. you can still text your ex when they are in a rebound relationship.

stay in touch and play it cool.

—what if your ex is getting married?

don’t text them. you are better off leaving your ex alone. however, if you insist on doing something (because you want to win them back) please get in touch for a 1-to-1 email coaching session.

downsides to texting

texting is far from ideal. compared to speaking on the phone or in person, you are disadvantaged.

for example:

  1. you have a voice and that voice is easily misrepresented via the medium of text.
  2. texting can be awkward and clumsy, especially if there is anxiety and neediness.
  3. texts are usually boring and neutral compared to speaking in person or calling. for one, we can’t hear the tone of their voice.
  4. texts can be misunderstood. without a voice, which conveys more meaning than words, the content of a message can be hard to understand. and, if you miss a word out by accident, you can change the meaning entirely.
  5. if we share too much via texting, we will have less topics, stories, and conversations to enjoy in person.

why you want to text your ex

why are you texting your ex? well, for one, the mobile phone is our most personal device. of all the different ways to start a conversation, texting is king. it’s the most popular way to communicate, especially for quick interactions.

a girl is standing outside, surrounded by water. she is holding her phone close to her face. it is getting dark, and her face is glowing from the light from her phone. she appears to be using her mobile.

you can send a message at any time, day or night, and they can reply (or not) at any time, day or night. it is a convenient way to stay in touch (reply when you want to, and not when i want you to.) and the recipient feels less pressure to receive it.

speaking of which: if you haven’t communicated for a while, texting your ex is less stressful than calling or knocking on their door.

it is the ideal way to start the reconnection process.

later, when the conversation flows better and you are emotionally ready, you can pick up the phone. when your ex is okay with real-time contact, talking on the phone can help the relationship grow. but not beforehand.

—the psychology behind texting your ex (by an expert)

a psychotherapist knows why we fight to keep the relationship alive after a breakup. the reason? to avoid feeling alone and to distract us from facing our new reality.

this is no surprise.

any expert can tell you that texting is a way to keep the connection alive. and part of the reason for doing this relates to a phenomenon known as, “extinction burst“.

and so, people send text messages to avoid —or to cope with— the pain of breaking up, and of dealing with rejection.

for many, it can be a form of grief management (or a symptom of not managing the grief…)

as i see it?

if you call your ex and they do not pick up, it is psychologically painful. it is heartbreaking when your ex ignores you. you love them, and as you are already hurt, it can amplify the rejection you already feel.

however, if you text your ex, you will not receive immediate feedback on your success. which means texting your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is easier on your mind. and, if you are feeling needy, it is important to find a kinder way to test the waters, right?

—why do we feel the urge to text an ex?

you miss them.

you would love to hear from them, but you worry that they are not ready to talk. but maybe a text will be fine?

it’s also easier to pick up your phone and send a text. it takes less courage to text than to meet your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend in person.

it is also easier than having a real-time live conversation.

lastly, it is a chance to check in with your partner with minimal effort. to feel better for having done something.

12 things to do instead of stalking your ex

while you are waiting (or are in-between contact) you must not stalk your partner. doing that could ruin your chances if your ex finds out.

instead, do healthy activities and keep busy so you have no time to obsess over your ex.

some tips:

  1. start a movement;
  2. get a mission, pursue it;
  3. develop a skill;
  4. travel;
  5. nurture a friendship;
  6. spend time with family;
  7. pour your energy into the man or woman in the mirror;
  8. get in shape;
  9. learn a language;
  10. learn to play a musical instrument;
  11. read;
  12. work more, save more.

what’s the best platform for texting?

you can send messages via many different apps. you don’t have to stick to the original sms medium. for example:

—whatsapp, imessage, facebook, viber, line, twitter, snapchat?

so, which app should you use?

the answer depends on the apps your ex likes to use, what they like to use them for, and how often. if you both use one platform a lot, it may be suitable. but, if in doubt, stick to plain text messages.

—what about email?

email has a different vibe. it is an option, and a good one if your number is blocked, or you are blocked on social media.

up until now, i have been talking about using your phone to send plain vanilla text messages.

however, you can achieve the same thing using various apps and social media networks.

my fallback advice is to stick with the basic medium you both always use. and, only you will know what that is.

—the first text: what to text your ex after no contact?

the first text you send should assess your ex’s receptivity. use this opportunity to determine how hot or cold your ex is.

think of something simple they can reply to or ignore, where both “responses” are plausible.

this gives them a chance to demonstrate where they are emotionally with you.

popular “template” text examples:

“the memory text” — the classic, “do you remember when…”

“the advice text” — “hey, i need your advice about something…”

“the elephant in the room text” — where you address what happened head-on.

—using text messages to rebuild attraction, connection and trust

you need to help your ex. they might be hurt and broken. and, each time you speak about what went wrong, you risk bringing their mood down.

how to build the connection?

your strategy should be to raise the good feelings your ex has for you.

this is why i recommend you stay clear of problems. if you have to talk about heavier topics, do so briefly and infrequently.

if you can avoid misunderstandings and subjects that hurt, do.

take your time:

you want to build the positive emotions over the days, weeks, and months that follow (do not rush this.)

work according to your exes terms. let them guide you by the feedback you get.

frequency wise, you might text once or twice a week. or even every other week in the early stages.

if all goes well, you can increase how often you contact. but that does not mean your ex wants to be texted daily. use your judgement here.

how to build attraction?

you can build attraction by removing what blocks the attraction. recall what attracted your partner to you originally. what changed since then is your actions, words, and attitude.

how to build trust?

trust is built by doing what you say. it is that simple. if you make an agreement, stick to it.

it helps to be consistent.

moving on to phone calls and a date (?)

texting is a stepping stone to more exciting and deeper methods of communication.

when you and your ex are ready, expect phone calls to bring you closer as you can hear each others’ voices.

you can also escalate to facetime / video-calls so you can see each other.

asking them out?

if the conversation has been going well, you can ask them to join you for quick coffee.

something that takes twenty minutes or so is ideal.

grabbing a tea or coffee is a safe bet as it is a public place and gives you each something to do (nibbles and a drink.)

just don’t refer to it as a date. it is not a date. it is a quick catch up.

when you have had a few of these meet-ups, you can begin to use texts for flirting.

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About the author: i’m a relationship coach specialising in breakup recovery. i’ve been doing this for 12+ years helping thousands worldwide. i created the Breakup Dojo, a popular program with over 1,000 members. i’ve authored several in-demand breakup recovery products, drawing from my deep fascination with psychology. i also publish the “ex-communication” newsletter that’s packed with actionable advice to over 10,000 subscribers worldwide.