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How much contact is appropriate after a break-up?
January 8, 2013 3:09 PM   Subscribe

I broke up with my then-fiancée in September 2012. What is the appropriate amount of contact after a break-up? I've struggled with finding a good balance. Give me some advice for the next go-round.

I'm 22 (m) and have had 3 dating relationships. The first, in high school, and the second, freshman year of college, each lasted about 6 months. I started and ended both of these relationships. After I broke up with each of them, I think I held on too much, didn't know how to end things well, and initiated too much contact. I had no intention of getting back together with them, but it was one of those things where I missed having someone to hang out with. I would call or text or email every so often and just check up on said ex-girlfriend. I realize this was not good on my part, and it didn't give them the space to get over me, especially after I was the one who broke up with them. They never mentioned that they didn't want to hear from me; in fact, both clearly said they still liked talking to me and keeping in touch. When they both verbalized (one very directly) that they were hoping I would reconsider going back into the relationship, I realized that keeping up communications was really selfish of me. I put their hopes to rest and decided I didn't want to go down that road of confusion again.

Fast forward 3 years, I was engaged and broke up with my fiancée. I'm not looking for a perspective on the appropriate age or time of life to get engaged/married...let's just say that I thought I was ready, then realized I'm not, and am glad I realized that before we actually got married. Anyway, I broke up with her in September (tried to follow Miko's advice which seems pretty solid) and, remembering that I didn't want to repeat what I had done with the other two relationships, went completely no-contact. And I mean, completely - no calls, no texts, no tweets. We still live in the same town but our social circles really weren't very entwined so I had no difficulties separating socially. We have, for the most part, completely separate sets of friends. I don't have facebook so that wasn't an issue. I didn't see her for almost 4 months. The no-contact strategy seemed highly recommended by this site and other individuals. There were 2 times between September and the end of the year where she contacted me about very specific things, and I did my best to reply politely but not make it seem like there would be any further contact beyond what she had asked about.

We ended up running into each other at a hockey game on NYE. She texted me and asked if we could chat sometime, and I said that would be fine, so we did a few days later. At this meeting, not only did she re-express feelings for me, but also criticized me for not keeping in touch. She said she was very worried about me after the break-up and that I should have updated her once in a while just to let her know how I was doing, if I was alive, if there was another girl in the picture, and to ask her how she was doing as well. Evidently, my very strict no-contact had not helped her move on and she was still holding on to the hope that we might end up together, even though I have zero thoughts about doing so and every time she has asked about that I have firmly stated it is not a possibility. Going forward, she requested that I let her know when I start dating someone else because she thinks that will make it easier for her to get over me. I said I probably won't do that because I don't have any idea when that will happen and plus why does it matter to you? She said that it seemed like I didn't care about her heart at all if I wouldn't even tell her when I had found someone else.

So...what's your take on the contact/no-contact approaches after break-ups? For me, going no-contact was just what I needed to move on. I don't feel ties to her as anything more than a distant friend. But is that just because I was the one initiating the break-up? I don't despise any of the girls I've dated, but I had come to think that no-contact mode was generally the best way to go. I don't plan on contacting her when I get back from living abroad in July, or when I start grad school in August, or when I start dating someone else whenever that is. Is that wrong of me? My ex-fiancée certainly seemed to think it was disrespectful to break her heart and then disappear into the wind. I can be somewhat of a loner, so the disappearing act is no problem for me.

tl;dr: From both perspectives of being broken up with and being the one who is initiating the break-up, what worked the best or caused the least pain for both parties as far as keeping in touch post-break-up? Or do you see something in my specific experience that you can relate to or help me see what I should do better?
posted by mellosphere to Human Relations (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Going forward, she requested that I let her know when I start dating someone else because she thinks that will make it easier for her to get over me.

This is weird and inappropriate behavior. You do not owe her a running debriefing of your love life because she would appreciate that for whatever weird and inappropriate reason she has. If no-contact-permanently works for you, then that is what you should do. The terms of the breakup isn't something both parties have to consent to.
posted by griphus at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2013 [28 favorites]


We ended up running into each other at a hockey game on NYE. She texted me and asked if we could chat sometime, and I said that would be fine, so we did a few days later. At this meeting, not only did she re-express feelings for me, but also criticized me for not keeping in touch. She said she was very worried about me after the break-up and that I should have updated her once in a while just to let her know how I was doing, if I was alive, if there was another girl in the picture, and to ask her how she was doing as well. Evidently, my very strict no-contact had not helped her move on and she was still holding on to the hope that we might end up together, even though I have zero thoughts about doing so and every time she has asked about that I have firmly stated it is not a possibility. Going forward, she requested that I let her know when I start dating someone else because she thinks that will make it easier for her to get over me. I said I probably won't do that because I don't have any idea when that will happen and plus why does it matter to you? She said that it seemed like I didn't care about her heart at all if I wouldn't even tell her when I had found someone else.

You're under no obligation to do this or to help her get over you. There is no right answer to this question. Do what you need to do to get on with your life.
posted by empath at 3:14 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think no contact is the right thing, and if I were you I wouldn't go back on it. When I was your age I broke up with a boyfriend and he was very very upset so we still tried to stay friends, and I honestly think I hurt him 10x more than if we had just had no contact. I was moving on with dating, had a new set of friends, the break up was just great for me and it really wasn't for him.

I think the back and forth where you go no contact and then say you are OK to chat is giving mixed signals here. Just go with what you want to do and be firm. People are going to be hurt, but breaking up with someone isn't a crime and everyone will be fine in the end.
posted by sweetkid at 3:16 PM on January 8, 2013


In general, I find that the appropriate level of contact is something less than either ex is attempting... and only possibly slightly more than zero.

This is true until both are capable of being genuinely happy that their ex is dating someone.

Your ex is making demands on your time and privacy because she wants to remain possessive of you. You owe her no such thing. She is the one who is out of line.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:17 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have no idea what's going on in your ex-fiancee's mind, but the vast majority of people do NOT want to know when their ex has found someone new. This may just be her way of dealing, but I don't think you'll encounter it often.

Just from my own experience I can say the disappearing act--a true disappearing act-- can completely screw with someone's head. To simply fall off the face of the earth with no indication that you're doing so is kind of a dick move, though one that most people have pulled at least once in their lives. But I'm not sure you really did that.

It's a different thing to go "no-contact." To my mind, going no-contact means, there is a final communication in which you indicate that this is the final communication. For example, you could have replied to the last of her practical inquiries and added something along the lines of, "for me to be able to move on and be healthy, I'd prefer it if we were not in touch, and I hope you can please respect that."

Perhaps you did that; it's unclear from your post.

tl;dr of my own--you're under no obligation to stay buddies with your ex at all, and I doubt her desire for constant updates is a common request. Most people will be happy with minimal to no contact (respectfully done)
posted by like_a_friend at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your ex is making demands on your time and privacy because she wants to remain possessive of you.

Seconding. Also, she probably harbors the hope that as long as you're single, she has a shot, hence the bizarre demand to know when you find someone else. Possibly she won't give up til you MAKE her give up, but that's her problem and not at all your job.
posted by like_a_friend at 3:24 PM on January 8, 2013


She is the one who is out of line.

This is weird and inappropriate behavior.

Sheesh people. Have a little sympathy. She was attached enough to someone to have planned on marrying the person, then one day their relationship was suddenly over. This has to be not unlike a death. I can hardly imagine many things more painful in the human lifespan. The girl is also in her early 20's. It might or might not have been her first significant love.

No contact is best for her in the long run because the poster is probably incompetent to do anything else to make it easier on her. So yes, keep up the no contact, from a practical standpoint only.

But it doesn't mean that she's somehow fucked up. This woman is and probably was suffering. It would blow my mind if I were engaged to someone, then the engagement was suddenly over and I never spoke with the person again starting the next day.
posted by kellybird at 3:27 PM on January 8, 2013 [49 favorites]


Her actions make it seem like it's even MORE important that you keep minimal contact. By minimal I mean "only what is absolutely necessary due to formerly entwined finances/social circles/etc.". Her being "very worried" is manipulative, and probably mostly a lie. As is the thing about wanting to know if you're seeing someone. Don't throw fuel on that fire of crazy.

I hate the "crazy ex-girlfriend, amirite?" trope as much as anyone, but I would say the same thing if sexes were reversed.

That said, I don't think you should tell her, "I'm not going to contact you for a while because I think you're fragile and aren't over me," even if that's what you're thinking. You should say, "I think it's best for both of us if we don't contact each other for a while. Unfortunately, this isn't negotiable; it's what I need to do to get on with my life. I hope you understand."

Goes without saying, but DO NOT contact her because you're bored, lonely, etc, as you have in the past.

Have her e-mails filtered into a mailbox you don't see, but check the status of periodically. Let a few months go by after her final e-mail. Then it MIGHT be ok to run into each other without starting the process all over again.
posted by supercres at 3:27 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Don't let her guilt you. You're doing just fine. Continue with not initiating contact and avoiding prolonging conversations.

That said, it's pretty normal for her not to be over it. It's only been four months and you turned your relationship upside down. Four months ago she thought the two of you were going to be together until the end of your lives; now you're basically acquaintances. She's going to go through a whole mess of emotions before she fully moves on. She needs to process those changes on her own, without leaning on you in any way. That's why you have to go no-contact.
posted by rhythm and booze at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


just to add one data point that runs contrary to the conventional AskMeFi\SavageLove wisdom of going no contact and to provide some context where the request for "let me know if you're dating someone" may be coming from ... I had a fairly rough breakup a decade or more ago with a friend who was fairly well enmeshed in a social circle that I had no desire to leave.

So the prospect of pure and perpetual no contact for either of us was not an option, but we went for a few months without staying in touch. However, I knew later on that she was dating someone. Then, meeting the new partner, and seeing how they were happy together really helped me recognize why we didn't work, and how it wasn't necessarily a flaw in me or her. We just needed a different partnership with different people. Seeing that helped me move on.

Are you obligated to do this? No. You can do what you want. And I generally agree that the other stuff that she's saying makes it sound like it's more about trying to get back together with you than trying to process what caused your engagement to fall apart. However, on the specific point about sometimes wanting to know what has made an ex happy, I personally don't think it's weird or abnormal to be curious about knowing or meeting their future partners.

I mean, if you cared for someone and if part of that caring includes a genuine interest in their happiness, then it should also bring a genuine sense of pleasure or joy when you see how they've become happy, even if it wasn't with you.
posted by bl1nk at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


It sounds to me like your ex is just not very emotionally mature -- which is a completely normal and expected thing for someone in their early 20s (I'm assuming you're both about the same age). She's obviously still hurting and is trying to hold on to you in any way that she can.

However! Her emotional well-being is not your responsibility. You owe her nothing at this point beyond the basic respect that you would extend to any other human being. All break-ups are different, and there's no one hard-and-fast rule about how much or how little contact to maintain. Do what's best for you; she needs to do what's best for her, without involving you in it.
posted by baby beluga at 3:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also think you fucked with her head a bit by breaking up with her and going "no contact" the very next day.

I bet that was shocking and traumatic for her. People often "get stuck" in shocking and traumatic moments.

I don't know how you help her now. Don't go overboard here! What's done is done.

Just... Maybe be a little less abrupt next time? Provide a little warning that you are going to do the "no contact" thing, as well.


It's something to think about for next time.
posted by jbenben at 3:46 PM on January 8, 2013 [17 favorites]


She's no more entitled to find out private information about your dating life than your co-workers are, and you don't owe each other anything more than you owe a mere acquaintance you pass by in the street (e.g. polite acknowledgement while going along your way). If you both want to be more involved in each other's lives than that, that's OK — just like you can choose to become better friends with your co-workers and acquaintances, but you don't have to. She doesn't get to coerce you into being closer friends than you're comfortable with. (As far as what actually works best, that's so variable that I wouldn't presume to give you any advice about it.)
posted by John Cohen at 3:51 PM on January 8, 2013


There's a big difference between going no-contact on a former GF and someone who was a would-be life partner. Big difference. Context is a very important thing here. She thought she was going to spend the rest of her life with you. And then nothing. That is a big thing, particularly for someone so young. As jbenben said, it's traumatic.

But as a separate issue, you don't owe her any information about who you're dating. And you don't really owe her any further communication if it's difficult for you. But I would have a great deal of compassion here for your ex-fiancee - going no-contact on someone you were going to marry (unless it's an abusive situation) is just not a thing to do.
posted by heyjude at 4:07 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


There aren't any "official" rules about this kind of thing. The reason everyone recommends 100% no contact is that it is really hard to actually heal and move on (and to keep clear, hey we've broken up for real boundaries) without it. No matter what, you don't owe your ex anything and don't let her believe that you do.

I'm not sure the no contact rule is right in every situation. My dad actually dated the same woman from high school through graduate school and he kept in contact with her. They're still friends some forty years later. I know he's glad he kept that relationship. She's a contact to his past, to his old friends, to his old neighborhood. I think he likes knowing how things turned out with her, that she's had kids, that she's had a successful life. No did he carry a torch for her after they broke up? Yeah, probably, but I don't think it interfered with his life or his moving on.

My friends broke up and then got back together at my wedding.

I've stayed in contact with last boyfriend and he's even randomly becomes friends with one of my good friends here in California because he knows her twin in DC. I'm glad we're still friends. The rest of my exes, I'll be happy if I never see again.

So I guess this is to say, there aren't any official rules. Do what you think is best for you. It sounds like you think no contact is best for you and that's absolutely fine. You're not doing anything unethical or immoral or even unfair. That's how break ups work. But sometimes when you are twenty and hurting, it's hard to see that.
posted by bananafish at 4:21 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


No contact until she's completely over you.

Do not "update" her. She must comprehend that your life is no longer any of her business. She can not fully grieve and move past you until she understands that the two of you are finished and all ties are severed.

You do her a great disservice when you respond to her inquires, etc, because any contact only reinforces her misguided hope. You can help her only by steering absolutely clear of her.

The only broken heart you can mend is your own.
posted by Pudhoho at 4:51 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her being "very worried" is manipulative, and probably mostly a lie. As is the thing about wanting to know if you're seeing someone.

Or her partner, the man she was planning on marrying because they were engaged, suddenly left her and stopped speaking with her.

If that happened to me, I'd be pretty worried about my ex, too. It sounds like this was sort of a surprise to her, and she is probably trying to understand what happened. That's also why she wants to know if there's someone else involved: this kind of event is often (not always) precipitated by infidelity, and she's probably trying to make meaning of this very shocking thing that happened.

Planning to spend the rest of your life with someone and then having yourself cut out of their life entirely is a very surprising and scary thing. She's not being manipulative as much as she's trying to figure this all out and move on.
posted by k8lin at 4:57 PM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


You dumped her for good reasons and then went cold turkey on her. As someone who was engaged recently and had this happen to her, let me tell you: it was the worst experience of my life to discover that my fiancé was not in love with me and that he had no interest in being with me anymore. You know what the worst part was? He became totally paternalistic and started checking up on me regularly to make sure I hadn't killed myself in grief. Oh yes! That was charming. I would have rathered he dropped off the face of the earth or given me a second chance but none of that I between guilty shit. That's what she's dealing with right now: the reality of what you did, and the tug of seeing you again and wondering why it just can't start back up again.

Unless you didn't give her a concrete reason for why you ended the engagement the first time around, you need to tell her point blank, "Contact is too difficult and it is interfering with our ability to move on. We must go our separate ways completely. I wish you well, and I will treasure the times we had together, but we are not compatible and I cannot remain in contact with you."

Have some sympathy for the ex in this situation, people. Being dumped while engaged is devastating. She's not crazy -- she's trying to figure out what the hell happened to ruin her once-in-progress marriage. OP, you staying in contact equals shitty and manipulative and self-serving. Stay away.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:59 PM on January 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


There is no hard and fast rule about how much contact is appropriate after a breakup. I actually think it's pretty darn strange to have plans to marry someone, then break up with them and never speak again. "No Contact" is for people who need to set boundaries, and the extent of what that entails depends on what makes it hard to carry on with your life. I don't think there's necessary a problem with letting your ex-fiancee know that you're alive a week or so after you've broken up. "No Contact" is really shorthand for controlling the contact, not doing a total bunk with no communication.

You don't have to tell her anything about your life, and at this point I think not doing so is best. However Miko's advice is not appropriate to every relationship, as she herself has said; and dumping your fiance/e and never talking to them again is pretty cold.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:03 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


... you know, unless they've done something violent or criminal.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:04 PM on January 8, 2013


I really wanted to be a friend with my recent (after a 15 year relationship, she and I broke up a year ago - so sue me I do long relationships) ex (Hanne) after she dumped me because of the pattern of staying friends that I was able to set with my ex-wife from 15 years ago, but it was not to be.

In this narrative, I'm the ex who got broken up with. The situation was complicated and special snowflakey of course, but I got dumped, got isolated from our then-shared social circles and she cut me off.

I still see some of Hanne's updates on Facebook and we on very rare occasions send very short e-mails to each other. Sometimes I encounter and curiously read her blog or interviews, but it's very much a "Somebody I used to know" sort of vibe.

Partly because things happened during the breakup that I can't explain that also isolated me from the community of friends we used to share and had been building together. Partly because Hanne herself has cut me off a lot. And it sucks. Because when you get dumped, you have a vision of staying in touch and it sometimes doesn't work out that way, and it takes a long time to either figure out what went on with your ex (esp. if she isn't telling you) and you wonder what was important, what wasn't, and what those friends of theirs are hearing about you, and it takes a long time to figure out that a lot of that doesn't matter and how to move on.

But sometimes no contact is just the way it's gotta be. Sounds like both of you should suck it up, find your centers separately and move on.

Maybe sometime later (like a few years), when you're both over each other and moved on from the life and momentum you shared, then maybe you can be friends again. For now, it sounds like you should keep it to very low or no contact, especially since you set that pattern.

Staying in touch didn't work for me and Hanne I think partly because she genuinely didn't care about our shared stuff any more, genuinely didn't love me any more (or at least in comparison to new opportunities) and didn't think I cared.

That piddling token care/affection you do when you just want to make sure you're not responsible for a suicide or a murder? It's bullshit and if your ex has a brain in her head she can probably tell that it is. I wanted Hanne out of my life for a long time and now I'm not sure I want her back (even as just friends).

It's really rough to graciously reassemble a deteriorated relationship when you got abruptly dumped and cut off. Very tough.
posted by kalessin at 5:16 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


99% of the time I am the dumper. Whether I have gone no-contact or not has depended on the relationships -- I don't follow a hard and fast rule on this, nor do I think others should. Context is key. But, in general, I think that you are not obligated to help her get over the breakup in the way that best suits the jilted party. There is quite a bit of projection going on here on the part of other posters, but I think the major mistake you've made is that you didn't stick with no- or very limited-contact.
posted by sm1tten at 5:17 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Advice is a tool and like all tools, it can be used inappropriately and to damaging effect.

You broke the "no contact" advice by misusing it. Your ex is right to be upset, and also to suspect you may have cheated on her.

Apologize to your ex-fiance. She deserves it.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:17 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The greatest gift my ex (we were together 8 years and planned on marrying) was that after the initial break-up we did not stay in contact. I wanted to. I wanted any tidbit to keep him "alive" in my life. It took us 2 weeks to separate our lives and then we did not talk for about 2 years. Looking back ending that relationship was like having him die. He had been part of my life for 8 years and then nothing. However, with no contact I was forced to move on and heal. It has been 13 years and we have had some contact at random times, but it is now a true catching-up with somebody who used to be an important part of my life. I vote to continue the no contact mode.
posted by Coffee Bean at 5:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Did you guys talk about the impending breakup before you broke up, so she was more emotionally prepared, or did you just say, "hey, this isn't working for me, bye". I think that has a lot to do with how the after break up plays out.

If you just left, you probably left her in shock, which makes going forward so much harder for her to process and keeps the hope alive. She still has hope if she wants to know when you start dating someone else. It might be that there wasn't any real closure (which is why I love the idea of going to a relationship counselor to break up).

This being said, what she wants, contact, is probably going to be the hardest for her, so I do, personally, think the no contact is for the best. But it should have been discussed a bit (which it doesn't sound like it was, I could be wrong) so she knew what to expect going into the future.
posted by Vaike at 6:00 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


The usual amount of no-contact that should be done with exes is a year. They need a whole year at least to learn how to live without you again. A whole year of them wanting to contact you and then remembering that they can't and then finding someone or something else to do to fulfill their needs. It is kind of like a death--or at least a raging drug addiction they have to go cold turkey from. Nobody gets over someone when they are still in their lives, being all friendly and wonderful.

Also remember that you were over her the second you broke up with her, and however long it took you to get to the mental place of "I want out," she hadn't even started that process or had that feeling when you broke up with her. It may take her a long time to catch up with losing that loving feeling enough to be chatty with you without hopes or expectations.

In this case, yeah, you really needed to do cold turkey for longer. Because the second you came back into her life, she had hope that you'd get back together. You need a long duration of no contact for her to get the idea, possibly fall in love with someone else, and/or generally move the hell on from you. And I'll be honest with you: some folks are just not cut out for being friends with exes, period. I am certainly not, I can never stop regarding an ex-boyfriend as a boyfriend, I can't backtrack him to "just a friend" or "friendly acquaintance" as they'd like. So even after a year of no contact, some folks just kinda stay crazy on this topic.

I think given your pattern of too-soon contact, you need to really stay no-contact for longer. And while it hurt my feelings when I got cut off, in the end I understood. I was really batshit trying to figure out how to relate to them afterwards, and deserved that to happen to me, and the only way I was going to get out of pining for them was if I had zero hope that they'd ever speak to me again. That bridge had to be on fire. No contact sucks balls, but it's the best way to act in a horrible situation, because the other alternatives have worse endings.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:35 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was in a 3 year relationship. We lived together, but then had to live on different coasts because we were both in the Navy and got orders to different places 1.5 years in. At the 3 year mark, when we now were stationed only 2 hours away from each other, he pulled what you did... just called it off, cut off contact, and basically disappeared.

I coulda used an explanation. I coulda used some closure. He didn't act like an adult, he didn't discuss issues or problems, he just cut off all contact.

I suspect that's what your ex is hoping for... for some sort of REASONING as to what happened and why.

Oh and my ex? EIGHT years later he tried to reach out to me, like it was something from a long time ago that we'd just grown and learned from. He hurt me, BAD, with his silence. Yes, I've moved on, but he's still a jerk. And I'll have nothing to do with him.

My advice to you would be to man up and quit jerking around with people's emotions. Just be honest and communicate. I'd rather hear an EXPLANATION for what was wrong and why the relationship wasn't going to work than him just leaving me in the dark eternally wondering, while I cried to my mom on the phone, wondering what was wrong with me.
posted by matty at 7:52 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks everyone. To clear a few questions up: One: yes, I did break up with little warning. Between the time when she knew I was considering ending it and actually ending it, there was a period of 8 days, after which I disappeared from her life. I can see what you're saying about how it was surprising and/or catastrophic to her. Two: in my opinion, it was about as close to no contact as was feasible. Like I said, between September and NYE we had communication twice. Once was she wished me Merry Christmas, and I did the same. That was two texts. The other was one time in October when an uncle (hers) who was close to both of us was having surgery for cancer. I did not ask for an update, but she updated me on his status, to which I replied thank you and I hope he is doing well, and that was it. Thirdly: there was definitely an explanation given for ending the relationship. Whether or not she agreed that it was a worthy reason to break up was not something I felt I needed to persuade her of. That would have been of no use.

When she texted after NYE to see if we could talk sometime, I figured it would be pretty laid back, and she said it would give her some closure. I did not request it, but I thought it seemed like an appropriate thing to do considering that I really had not seen her for 4 months. If she had asked that same question 2 months earlier, I would have said no, but by 4 months I had hoped that we could have a decent, friendly conversation without digging up too much of the past. Apparently that was stupid of me, but I thought that it would be the civil thing to do. I get over things (anything) rather quickly, so my estimate of 4 months being enough time evidently needs to be drastically extended.

We have not spoken since, and I don't expect there will be much effort on her part to revive it. I have been very clear that it is over and the reasons why. I am going to keep going like I have been, and if she does try to contact me again, I'll tell her that it's best if we keep going our separate ways - that's the healthiest for us both.

Thanks for the anecdotes/perspectives. I appreciate the input on the current relationship, but really, I can't do much to change the situation now other than what I stated above. I asked the question more for future reference, and you have provided some good things to consider next time this comes up.
posted by mellosphere at 8:00 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I asked this question about how long the no-contact period should be, you might find it helpful.

This was the most helpful answer for me:

"You've got a date? Hope you have fun!"
"Oh you're engaged! so awesome!"
"You and Jessica are having a baby?! when's the shower?"

When uttering any these sentences would have the same weight with your ex as anyone else: then you can start talking. When all of them do: then you can start being real friends. That's my rule of thumb.

posted by DoubleLune at 8:34 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


It still sounds like you didn't tell her you intended to disappear from her life immediately following the breakup. In the future, do that, at least when the relationship is engagement serious.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:16 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think you handled it as best you could here, OP, and nobody's ever going to like getting dumped however nicely you put it. You made mistakes, but did so out of a desire to avoid repeating your previous mistakes.

Anybody who's saying your ex is out of line or being inappropriate/manipulative/whatever, is being extremely hard on her. I think she's conducted herself with style and grace, and while asking to be told when you're dating someone new may be misguided, it's unlikely to be sinister, and if you're allowed to make mistakes then so is she.

Flipping the total "no contact" switch, especially with no explanation, is for situations where the other person is in some way a danger to you. The other situation when people go no contact is when they have been harbouring contempt for you for a long time, just don't care, and are glad to be rid of you. If Ex thinks that you think either of these things about her, no wonder she is looking for answers.

I agree that there is no going back now, but next time, maybe spend a bit more time anticipating what the dumped might be afraid of and addressing that. Obviously that can only go so far (e.g. "no, honestly, this does not mean you are fat and ugly and nobody else will want you! Your cellulite may not be to my taste, but I'm sure there are a lot of men... somewhere... who will be grateful for anything you have to offer" would be an example of the kind of reassurance that is not generally needed) and I know you did use Miko's script. Just, the reality is that you pulled the rug out from under her so she no longer knew what was real. She won't have known whether to believe that script, most likely.

Anyway, you sound like a good guy who is keen to act with integrity and respect, we're all still learning these things even at older ages than you, and that's way better than being someone who will never learn. It's a sad fact that some situations are hurtful even when, ultimately, that's nobody's fault.
posted by tel3path at 7:34 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


May I gently suggest, then, that if you are already over what happened after only 4 months, the degree to which the your ex is feeling jilted is now extremely understandable and her behavior not at all that surprising. Do not reveal that reality to her if you do somehow wind up in contact with her again unintentionally, because that will hurt her more than you can possibly imagine. And obviously, don't propose to anybody you could conceivavbly get over in just 4 months, but that kind of goes without saying. Hopefully both of you will find better matches in the future.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:03 AM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


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