Should you be texting your ex-partner? If you have to ask yourself whether it’s right or wrong, then well, it just might be wrong for you. While you may not find any short-term harm in it now, you may find it harder to let go of them in the future after you’ve reestablished your connection with them.
Below, relationship expert Shauntay Dunbar gives her expertise to Girls United about staying completely platonic with your ex, why you probably shouldn’t be texting them and how to break off communication without it being awkward.
Girls United: Can exes still be friends?
Dunbar: I guess it depends on the split. If it was amicable and you both decided that we were better off as friends, then of course you can always go back to your friendship. But if it was bad blood or if it was toxic, obviously that’s not something that you should pursue. I mean, when there are children involved, then obviously you have to at least be cordial with one another for the sake of the children. But outside of that, if it’s a bad breakup, then why are we still talking?
Girls United: Is it appropriate to text your ex while you’re in a relationship? How can you do so while setting boundaries?
Dunbar: I feel like once you’ve broken up with someone, you can move on. If you’re constantly battling with other people to try to keep this person in your life, maybe you should reevaluate why y’all broke up in the first place because all it’s doing is causing issues for your new relationship. What happens when you are dating someone new and they’re like, ‘I’m really uncomfortable with you being friends with your ex.’ Are you going to dismantle every new relationship, just to keep friendship with your ex? That doesn’t make any sense.
Once you’re done, you should be done. Unless you all had that friendship and you tried getting together and you’re like, ‘If this doesn’t work out, we can always go back to our friendship.’ You have to think about it also [that] you have to introduce this person to your new beau. You have to explain your relationship to your new beau. You want to constantly tell anybody, ‘Oh, this my ex.’ It’s weird. Don’t do it.
Girls United: How do you cut off your ex, or set boundaries with them, without making it awkward or uncomfortable?
Dunbar: Just be honest and say, ‘Listen, I don’t think it’s healthy for me to continue to talk to you and I think we should stop.’ Obviously, if they’re toxic and they pursue, then you block them. It’s all about being honest and being in tune and truthful with yourself, and deciding for yourself what’s best. If that means you have to cut ties with a person, then you have to do it.
Like I always say, you can tell anybody anything as long as you’re upbeat and you’re smiling. You can say, “Hey, I really don’t think this is going to continue to work, but I wish you the best. I can’t speak to you anymore. Okay, bye.” It doesn’t have to be this big deal or intervention. If they don’t want to listen, you can block them or you can have your friends talk to them, and like, “Listen, she’s trying to move on. He’s trying to move on. You need to back off.”
Girls United: When you do cut off your ex, just in case you see them in class, at work, or around your neighborhood, how do you keep it cordial and avoid the awkwardness?
Dunbar: Being honest with each other, and knowing what it is like, ‘We’re going to be friends and that’ll be it.’ If at any moment you feel uncomfortable or it gets weird, then maybe it’s something that you shouldn’t be doing. Sometimes people get excited when they see people and they think that they have to have these be butterflies. Sometimes that feeling is anxiety.
Sometimes that feeling is uneasiness. Sometimes that feeling is not so much a good thing. So if at any moment that you feel uncomfortable, then that’s something that you should not continue to do. If you’re worried about the friendship, or you’re constantly contemplating why you two are still friends and how to introduce them to people, is that worth the trouble? You have to take care of our mental health, and if something like that is stressing you out, that’s not something you should be doing.
Girls United: What if you’re the partner of someone who is consistently texting their ex? How do you tell them that you’re uncomfortable and set boundaries without seeming too controlling?
Dunbar: Analyze why you’re uncomfortable. Are there things that are really standing out that make you feel like there could still be something there, or are you battling with your own insecurities? So if you’re good and you’re secure with who you are, and you just know that something’s not right about it, or it’s just making you feel uneasy, then of course you would tell your partner like, ‘Listen, this makes me uncomfortable and I need you to stop.’ Decide what extent you need to go to. Is it that you want them to stop cold turkey? Do you want to have a conversation with all of you there? Or is it something where you’re like, ‘Don’t do it as much.’
Keep up with Shauntay Dunbar by following her on Instagram.