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.
posted by mellosphere to human relations (32 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
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?