In times of crisis, we often revert to things that used to give us comfort - eating our favorite snacks, watching favorite movies, and yes...even texting people who broke our hearts.
Coronavirus gives a great excuse to reach out to someone who you haven't talked to in a while, whether it's a friend or an ex. The difference is, when you reach out to an ex, it can have far-reaching consequences on your mental health during a time when you're most likely already feeling stressed and anxious.
Though it may feel good initially to get in contact, the pain of realizing that you're still not together, or that they have no intention of rekindling, can be even worse.
So before you reach out to your ex and check on them, here are some things to remind yourself:
Reaching out to an ex has emotional consequences
An innocent "Hey, hope you're doing okay and staying healthy" text may seem like a good idea in the moment, but consider what will happen if you don't hear back, or if you get a short response, or if the conversation fizzles out after a few days of intense back-and-forth. How did you feel the last time you spoke to your ex? Did it have an impact on you? How long did those effects last?
Remember that this is not a normal time
Keep in mind that everyone is spending more time than usual on their phones right now, so they may be quick to respond, but it may not mean as much to them as it does to you. People are bored and have a lot of time on their hands right now, so if you do reach out, try not to read too much into any response. A text back doesn't mean you're getting back together. It most likely means they are being polite and don't want to leave you hanging during a difficult time.
Let go of expectations
If you decide to reach out, it's important that you don't have expectations going into it about what your text or call might turn into. Don't use this pandemic as an opportunity to have another clarifying conversation around your breakup or rekindle things. Remember that your ex is still the same person they were before the pandemic started, and even though it may feel good to talk to your ex, it doesn't change the circumstances of your breakup.
If your ex reaches out, or you decide to reach out to your ex, take steps to make sure you don't have a major emotional setback. Check in with friends afterwards, and make sure that you have a support system to fall back on if you're feeling confused or sad after speaking with your ex. Above all, remember that you need to put yourself first. Your ex needs to rely on a support system that doesn't include you, and vice versa, as difficult as that may seem.
A pandemic can stir up emotions about exes, but ultimately if your relationship was working, you would be together and weathering the pandemic as a couple. You wouldn't be broken up. That's the essential thing to remember if you're struggling with feelings for your ex, as harsh as that may feel. Instead of fixating on your ex, think about all the people in your life who have always been there for you - friends, family, pets, coworkers. Make an attempt to connect with one of these people every day to combat feelings of loneliness, and you can even enlist your friends to help you avoid reaching out to an ex if you're feeling a weak moment.
If you could use more daily support through a breakup or divorce, you can download our app Mend (iOS only). You can also sign up for our free class on "Staying Home: How To Support Your Mental Health During Coronavirus."