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I'm afraid my big heart is detrimental when dealing with relationships. Does anyone have any ideas or tips for dealing with exes? I think at times I would be better off cutting people out of my life (or keeping them out of my life) but sometimes have an emotional pull to at least be open to communication. An ex just contacted me out of the blue after a year, and not sure if I want to reply. It really upset me to hear from him, especially as he ignored my attempts at reaching out before and I don't know his intentions. Part of thinks why should I respond if he ignored me for so long. It troubles me that it has made me so emotional and brought back painful memories. Things ended really poorly between us, so I honestly thought I would never hear from him again... and after saying a bunch of mean things to him, the fact that he is reaching out makes me question if there is some shady reason he's contacting me. I hate thinking like that, and trying to figure out if there are boundaries I could set to have an adult conversation at least. It just feels weird to not respond because we were close in some ways, but was a dysfunctional relationship and I don't want to be walked over anymore.

Thanks for any thoughts!
 

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Not sure if this will help you at all with your situation, but I had this kind of back/ forth thing was an ex for a very long time. It was with my first boyfriend, and things also ended badly, and he also wouldn't always respond to me when I tried to reach out. But then just when I would start to back off and feel stronger emotionally, I'd hear from him and it would stir up all of this old stuff all over again. It finally ended the last time we saw each other, and we realized that we each had our own families now. I haven't tried to contact him since, but if he ever contacted me, I'd probably be willing to talk to him. Reaching out can be hard, at least it is for me, so I tend to give people from my past the opportunity to communicate, even if there were times where the person didn't grant me the same courtesy.

This is mostly for people who were significant in my life and the relationship had meaning, though. There have been others where once it ended, that was it. I guess what would make you feel worse, talking to him or not responding?
 

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If things ended badly between you, let them be done. Let it be the end. It makes you feel bad and remember the painful past when he reaches out; that's not how it feels to see a message from a friend. Talking to him isn't going to resolve this, and as you talk, you may even feel worse. The person he is messaging doesn't exist anymore. He is talking to the past you. He doesn't know you, and you don't know him. Is there really anything new to glean from the past?

I come at it from this perspective because a year after I broke up with an ex, he texted me, almost on the first anniversary of our breakup. It made my heart drop and stomach rot to see his name on my phone. He was feeling bad and remorseful and needy. I was on vacation and meant to reply when I was finished with vacation and when I had calmed down. But I never replied, even though he soon went overseas with the military. I realized that I couldn't both be kind and enforce boundaries, and I chose the boundary, which was a non-response. I think life is better this way. I don't have to think of him much, and I can go my own way. I don't need to talk to him, and it shows how I didn't need to be with him anyway. I'm different for the better in my life that is completely without him. I feel very good, and I'm free to be myself, my new self.
 
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