During a crisis such as COVID-19 people have time to be reflective about their past. Because everyone is shut in, there’s more time for scrolling social media and decluttering the house. It’s not uncommon to find photos, letters, books and other things you shared with your ex. Nor is it uncommon to see your ex’s text or direct message show up asking how you’ve been. It doesn’t matter how many years ago, or why you broke up; witnessing what’s happening in the world is painful, lonely and anxiety provoking, prompting you to think about your own life, consider mistakes and reach out to an old love.
If you’ve recently heard from an ex through a text or direct message, the most important thing I would caution you about, is not to drop everything you’re doing and begin engaging as if the past never happened. The past did happen and although your ex may find comfort in reconnecting with you, that doesn’t mean that’s what is best for you. The majority of ex’s are exes for a reason, and relationships with an ex may work out, but they never work out like the movies or love stories you’ve read or idealize in your mind. Experts have found that there are several reasons why ex’s look for comfort and validation with a past love.
• If your ex feels lost and alone, and you rescued them in the past, they’re more likely to reach out to you. If you played a role in reassuring and enabling your ex, reaching out to you makes them feel less alone.
• One who really does love you and never got over you is more likely to reach out in a pandemic.
• An ex with a strong physical/emotional chemistry is more likely to seek you out.
Seeing a text or message from an old flame is flattering and the pandemic has softened us redirecting our priorities. But that isn’t a good reason to go back with an ex. Here are guidelines to keep you safe when and if you respond to your ex’s message.
1. Consider the reasons you broke up. If your ex was emotionally, physically or sexually abusive, don’t respond. Delete the message.
2. If you’re currently in a relationship, tell your ex and delete the message.
3. If you still have feelings for the person, don’t expect the pandemic to solve what happened in the past. People don’t change without intense work and commitment. Before making any decision, be honest with yourself about what you and your ex have changed to improve past problems.
4. If your ex wants a temporary fix to feeling lonely, or wants to be rescued: be honest with yourself. It’s not about how they feel about you, it’s about them. Don’t respond. Delete.
Pandemics can make you feel more alone, and uncertainty heightens fear and anxiety. Hearing from an ex can feel romantic and cause you to recall better times than what you’re currently living. But don’t be fooled, an ex is an ex because they broke your trust. The pandemic will end, and life will be normal again. Someone who really loves you will want what’s best for you. Unless your ex is willing to do what is in your best interest to secure relationship success, keep them an ex.