Why is my ex (who dumped me) still contacting me a year later?
March 21, 2012 10:02 PM   Subscribe

Why is my ex (who dumped me) still contacting me a year later? We only dated for a few months and then he dumped me by text. I, understandably upset, deleted and blocked him online and off my phone and went on with my life. Since then he's been sending me texts or e-mails every few months.

They're short and purely conversational, saying he's checking out a store we had talked about or wishing me a happy birthday.

I would have guessed lame booty calls except he never asks any questions or tries to elicit a reply. The only affect it's had on me is going from being upset he dumped me to thinking he's kind of a loser. I'm not concerned about any of it, just slightly confused.

Also he got my birth-date wrong.
posted by Dynex to Human Relations (39 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There's a special brand of loser that likes to think that even after you've broken up, he could still get you back whenever he feels like it. He'd like to think he has you on a string and he's testing it by yanking it every now and again to see if he gets a response. Just to feed his ego. Don't do it.
posted by Jubey at 10:08 PM on March 21, 2012 [18 favorites]

Do you ever reply? It doesn't sound like you do, which I think is the best idea. I wouldn't respond either if I didn't want to hear from him. That's supposed to make it taper off and stop.

Which is why I think it's weird that he continues to do it (if you've never responded).
posted by juliplease at 10:15 PM on March 21, 2012

Response by poster: I responded the first time, but not since. And it does appear to be tapering off.
posted by Dynex at 10:20 PM on March 21, 2012

He's lonely and showing you how pathetic he is. Also he's working up to asking for a booty call.
posted by Kloryne at 10:25 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

I broke up with a creep who contacted me once every three months for two years, despite no response on my end. Is he a creep?

But even in case of creep, he probably does feel guilty, and/or breaking up with you was a power play and he's fussed that you didn't throw yourself at his feet. Or he wants a booty call, or he wants to be friends. In order of likelihood.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:32 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Perhaps he's a nice person who didn't know how to handle the breakup and would one day like to be friends with you but also doesn't want to intrude.
posted by salvia at 10:36 PM on March 21, 2012 [21 favorites]

I agree with the 'young rope rider,' personally, I have been in your ex's position before. I wasn't "in" a relationship but the two of us were into each other and communicated often for a while.

But, I became distant and pulled away, mainly because I was in a very bad emotional place. I wish I could send this person a message just to see how they were doing.

I sometimes wonder where the two of us could have been if I didn't pull away.

But, I have decided not to contact this person because I'm not in the place that I want to be (emotionally) and I don't know what type of response I'll receive.


Point being: this person isn't a creep based on what you have stated (but there is probably more behind the question). However, based on the information we have in terms of him contacting you once in a while, well that is probably because he cares about you and wants to talk to you and become friends or something more.
posted by livinglearning at 10:58 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

People think others are creepy when they don't want to talk to them. If they do want to talk, then they're sweet.

Since you obviously don't want to talk to him, why did you ever unblock him. Go back to that. If you didn't know, you can easily block texts from numbers and filter emails.

He doesn't sound that creepy though. I'm pretty awesome and every now and then will drop a line to past flames that were actually cool. It's not a booty call or a cry for help. I just genuinely have something to remark on or wonder what they're up to. If they think I'm creepy and crying alone in a corner, cool. That sure sounds like a healthy assumption (it isn't). It does sound like a fundamental attribution error.

Then again, he did dump you via text, so.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:22 PM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

It sounds like he wants to be friends, yo. Or maybe just acquaintances who have occasional mundane conversations when he's bored. My top guess is when he contacts you he is just bored and nobody is talking to him and he wants some attention.
posted by cairdeas at 12:23 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

If he sounded cool I wouldn't have assumed he was a creep. But he broke up with you by text! And got your birthday wrong! C'mon. (Okay, slightly facetious.)

What I find weird about this behavior, creep or not, is that they'll just keep texting you. They could be texting into a black hole for all they know, but it does not deter them. I do think that "unfinished business" is often a big motivator in these situations. Breaking up by text would fall into that category.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:45 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh come on, don't even be tempted to feel warm fuzzies towards him because he's "thoughtfully reaching out." (yeah right) I can't imagine dumping someone and then "checking up" on them and wishing them a happy birthday after they blocked me everywhere.

If he's feeling guilty: so what, he should feel guilty. Or he should conduct himself in relationships and breakups in such a way as to not feel guilt. By contacting you, he's just making his guilt, for his bad behavior, your problem. It's not.

If he's actually worried about you: Pretty condescending, no? He left you, so you must be falling apart? Giving himself way too much credit. And it's really just another version of making himself feel better.

If he likes your company as a friend: So? He wants to have a friend, not be a friend. If he wanted to be a real friend, he would take a hint. Or wait for you to come to him. Yeah, he probably misses you, because you're awesome. Again, his problem.

If he can't even comprehend that you might not want to hear from him: Stupid. Egotistical. Stupid.

I bet his mindset is one of two types: Either he's in a slump, lonely, and trying to get an ego boost and some attention, or he's feeling grandiose and carefree and reaching out to everyone, and it's pretty meaningless to him, takes two seconds, and is quickly forgotten. Either way, it's definitely goin' fishin' for a tug on the ol' line. If he really is just a great wonderful sweet perfect dude who wants to wish you a happy birthday, the best way for you to honor that niceness? Take the message and never reply. He can't complain if he truly wants nothing in return.
posted by quincunx at 12:52 AM on March 22, 2012 [12 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and I'm sure he's aware how "nice" and "sweet" this comes across as. Wow, he wishes his exes happy birthday! What a swell, thoughtful guy!

Come to think of it, that's another other option. That his has nothing to do with you at all and he's basically just play-acting for the sake of himself, for his own audience of one, convincing himself he's a nice guy.
posted by quincunx at 12:56 AM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

Perhaps I take situations like this quite lightly but here are my two cents:

Maybe I always date "loser" guys (I doubt this) but about 95% of the guys that have ever broken up with myself or any of my close girlfriends have resurfaced much later for at least one text and/or phone call. It's almost a joke now. When a breakup occurs we take bets on how long it will be (after it's definitely over) before he surfaces again.

I could be wrong but I've always thought that most people try to get in touch with someone again because things are either going really well for them and they want you to know about it, or they're going really bad...and they want you to know about it. Either way, I rarely want to know. I make this assumption because those are the situations I find myself in when I want to reach out to some old flame. Or I'm really drunk and it just seems like SUCH a good idea at the time. Fortunately, I have made enough of these "shouldn't have called calls" in the past that I always call my mother or a close friend instead now. Redial free since '05.

Sidenote: Some of the best advice I ever got (so friggin' simple!)- Always look forward, never backward. That is how I see relationships. You dumped me. Sayonara. Too many fish in this giant, spectacular sea....
posted by smeater44 at 12:57 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

He dumped you, by text, and now he's dropping in every so often just to say he's thinking about you? This is not the honourable behaviour of a stand-up good guy. This is someone who didn't have enough respect to physically tell he didn't want to date you anymore and now he's bored/lonely and wants an easy bit of attention to shore up his ego. Ignore it.

This always, always happens with exes, I find, whether you're the dumper or dumpee. Thanks to facebook, nearly every ex I've had for the past 17 years has now been in contact to attempt to engage me about about the good old days. They usually do it when they've just broken up with someone or they're about to get married. I do not find this a compliment, honestly it pisses me off. If I have a friendly relationship with the person I can tolerate the attempt while fending it off, but otherwise you can BLOCK with a clean conscience.
posted by everydayanewday at 1:34 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you actually told him in so many words that you don't want him to contact you in future? You don't have to be nasty about it, just clear. Simply not responding is not enough to convey that message.
posted by Segundus at 2:53 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wow, you guys are more cynical than I thought. My diagnosis would be a socially awkward guy of a youngish generation (relies on text for communication even on important topics) who would like to keep in touch off-and-on when he happens to think of you (because there is context for the contact he has made). I've been on both ends of that relationship, and it has never added up to "booty call" or requests for money or other creeper phenomena. On the other hand I do get invited to weddings and out to eat or sightse when they happen to be in town or whatever.

It's up to you to decide if you want to encourage him (reply, or send something when you think of him) or lose contact (delete, block, ignore).
posted by whatzit at 4:04 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

He's secretly wanting you to delete his texts and block his number.
posted by mattoxic at 4:37 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know what his underlying reason is, but he's probably still texting you because you haven't explicitly told him to stop.

Call him and say, "We broke up, and I'd like you to stop contacting me. When you text, it upsets me, and I have no intention of responding beyond this call. Please don't make me block your numbers."
posted by xingcat at 4:50 AM on March 22, 2012

I don't know what his underlying reason is, but he's probably still texting you because you haven't explicitly told him to stop.

This. Really, from your description, we have no idea of knowing whether he's contacting you for sentimental reasons or for something more cynical. It's all hypothesis. If you want to know why he's contacting you, ask him. He's the only one who can tell you this answer. If you want him to stop, tell him to stop. This is not that difficult.
posted by mochapickle at 5:06 AM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Depending on the nature of your relationship and how you broke up, it could be anything from a creepy "I am a loser who wants to use you for sex" to a friendly "oh hay a thing reminded me of you and now i am saying hi!". This is really the kind of situation that no one here can solve for you, tbh. You need to either ask him what the hell he wants or just tell him to go away.
posted by elizardbits at 5:32 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow, you guys are more cynical than I thought.

My thought exactly.

I wouldn't take this so personally. Why does he contact you? Because he contacts other women he's dated, and at least some of them are apparently responding positively. Thus, his mental model is at least some of the people he's gotten in touch with respond.

I doubt he's taking it too seriously. Rather, I think you still feel slighted by how he dumped you, thus you are looking for subtext where there may not be any. If he was chasing after you again, chances are there would be a bit more energy behind it. As it is, he's waving the "hey let's be friends" flag.

As you can see from the comments above, people have loads of reactions to people they've dated, even briefly.

And the reactions tell far more about ourselves than the people who initiated the stimuli. What happened? You received a text.
What was your response? Confusion.
Are you confused by all the text messages you receive? I doubt it.
So what is special about these text messages? The person they're from.
What is special about this person? It's a guy I dated who dumped me via text message.

So why do these text messages confuse you? Because you're pre-wired to have an emotional response of confusion to his text messages. Sounds like your read of his text messages was cemented the day he dumped you.

All this chat of blocking, or calling him, or that he is a loser or all that. With all due respect, it's probably hogwash. Yes, maybe he is a psychotic emo chap who has been playing Love Will Tear Us Apart ever since the day his childhood inadequacies made him send you that text. Or it is a feeble attempt at a booty call. But I doubt it.

Chances are he's texting you like everyone else he's dated. In an alternate universe, you could read the text messages and laugh. Maybe be friends with him. Maybe meet him out, where you meet one of his friends. One with smouldering eyes who thinks that his mate is dick for dumping girls via text message.

I dunno. Mountain. Molehill. I think the interesting part for your own journey here is not the texts but your reaction to them.
posted by nickrussell at 5:39 AM on March 22, 2012 [8 favorites]

It sounds like he wants to be friends. Just tell him you don't want to be friends or block him. Whichever you feel comfortable with.
posted by empath at 5:52 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

He could be thinking, "Hey, Dynex never told me not to contact her, and it wasn't a bad breakup, she must be down for being friends."

He also could be feeling lonely, bored, horny, guilty... if you really want to know, he's the person to ask.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:57 AM on March 22, 2012

I mean, like, this is the modern equivalent of you saying "my ex keeps knocking on my front door every so often, I'm confused and don't know what he wants, but I won't open the door and ask him."

ASK HIM. Or lock the metaphorical gate so he can't knock anymore.
posted by elizardbits at 6:00 AM on March 22, 2012

'I forget about you long enough to forget why I need to...' Matt Nathanson

He's probably lonely, thinks nice thoughts about you, messages you, and then remembers why he is lonely. Leave him lonely.
posted by myselfasme at 6:27 AM on March 22, 2012

I would stop caring why. People do all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons, many quite inexplicable. What do *you* want? You can teach him how to behave towards women with a short text saying We dated, you ended it by text. I, quite reasonably, deleted and blocked you and went on with my life. Lesson: If you want to stay friends, end relationships in person and with consideration for the other person. Want him to stop? You can just text him 1 time "Please stop contacting me." or you can just shake your head at his pathetic weakness and continue with your life. If you think you might be interested, you could respond to him, even. All are reasonable actions. The most important part is understanding what you want.
posted by theora55 at 6:38 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Breaking up via text was a douche move. But as to his motives we can only guess. As for me, I generally only date people I like, and that doesn't stop because we are not dating any more, so unless there is some reason not to, I generally will say hi from time to time, ask how they are doing, meet for coffee, whatever. It's not about getting back together, or keeping people on a sting. It's just saying hi.
posted by Nothing at 6:43 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

(And I have also experienced this from exes, so I don't think it's just a guy thing.)
posted by Nothing at 6:43 AM on March 22, 2012

Why is my ex (who dumped me) still contacting me a year later?

Why are you asking us? Ask your ex. Hopefully, they'll answer your question honestly and your free at any time to continue the interaction, or not, depending on whether you like their answer. Totally up to you.
posted by squeak at 7:55 AM on March 22, 2012

My partner and I, over the course of the last 15 years, have each gotten strangely casual out-of-the-blue emails from respective ex-spouses. It's hard to say what motivates this sort of thing, other than assuaging lingering guilt, festering regret at what could have been, or even just the weird dissociative nostalgia that compels people to try to friend high school classmates they were jerks to back in actual high school.

The only affect it's had on me is going from being upset he dumped me to thinking he's kind of a loser.

I suspect this is an appropriate response, honestly.
posted by aught at 7:59 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Why are you asking us? Ask your ex.

YMMV, but personally I recommend against this the same way I would recommend against feeding a troll.
posted by aught at 8:01 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

My guess is he's single now, has no new prospects, and is thinking back on the last couple of years of his life and wondering "hmmm, who can I call for a hook up?" And now he's testing the waters. I've done this before, I've had guys do this to me before.

If he really was a nice guy and if he really did feel bad, you'd probably know about it and not have to ask - I'm sure he'd talk to you about it in that case instead of sending random texts. Oh, and if he does talk to you about it and seems like he is sorry, I'd still be cautious about his motives - if he truly wants to be friends, then it might take time (if that's what you want to) and it's OK to not trust him immediately. If he apologizes and expects you guys to be bff's all of a sudden, then yea, something is not right with his motives.
posted by never.was.and.never.will.be. at 8:04 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: People think others are creepy when they don't want to talk to them. If they do want to talk, then they're sweet.

I have thought people were creepy when they've seriously disrespected me and then tried to come back to me ages later acting like we're still buddies, but with no suggestion that they want to actually have the substantial conversation that would be required in order to rebuild bridges.

I'm still longing to have most of those conversations. So it's not quite the case that I find them creepy because I "don't want to talk" to them.

Whatever his actual motives, I think you can unfortunately take "wanting to build a friendship on respectful terms" off the table.
posted by tel3path at 8:21 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Was the majority of your communication through text/email when you dated?

A rule that I was taught as a teen is that it is acceptable to brekup with someone through whatever means you communicated the most. In other words, if 95% of your communications are over text, then don't be surprised if he breaks up with you over text. You have established the pattern that text is your preferred method of communication. Same for the phone or in person.

Think of it this way, If you talk on the phone 95% of the time and have only met in person twice over three months, it would be awkward and uncomfortable to most people to recieve an in-person breakup under those conditions.

This is not an excuse. You have a right to be disappointed in his breakup methods if they displease you.

However, he may not see the breakup as being a Big Inappropriate Thing, and thus, not fully understand why you would be so upset or not want to be friends.

None of his text messages read as "creepy" or "inconsiderate" to me. More likely, he just views your relationship and breakup in a more positive light then you do for any number of reasons.

Ask him what his deal is to fulfill your curiosity, if you don't like the answer, block him.
posted by Shouraku at 9:37 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

The fact that he sends you messages that don't really require a response/keeps sending them despite a lack of response suggests that you've put more thought into his motives than he's put into his messages.
posted by sm1tten at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and I'm sure he's aware how "nice" and "sweet" this comes across as. Wow, he wishes his exes happy birthday! What a swell, thoughtful guy!

Come to think of it, that's another other option. That his has nothing to do with you at all and he's basically just play-acting for the sake of himself, for his own audience of one, convincing himself he's a nice guy.

Oh, man, I wish I could select this as the best answer. It might not necessarily apply in your case (maybe?), but I bet it will apply to someone reading this thread in the future.

If it makes you feel any better, I left a dude (after a long-term, unhealthy relationship), told him that he was dead to me and to never contact me again, and then he proceeded to text and email regularly for a year. A whole year. Weird shit: links to restaurants he thought I would like, a video of him playing with his nephew, wishes that I would have a happy day, snaps of my favorite flowers, apologies for being an ass, declarations of love, declarations of how he'd made a huge mistake, declarations of heartburn. A year of declarations that fell into a big, black void, since I never responded.

After it started escalating and getting weirder, I freaked and sent a certified letter that was all eff you restraining order i hate you the next thing you hear from me will be a summons from the courts!

He was silent.
For a year.

But then: my birthday rolled around. Happy birthday! He wishes he had some tulips he could give me and that it's the best day ever!!!!

Thing is, I think the observation applies: I really think he is performing (to himself, and possibly his new girlfriend) that he's really a "nice guy" who is "considerate of his exes" and who has "their best interests at heart." Never mind that he, you know, brought a gun to our breakup, hey hey. And I think this is applicable because I know him well and, frankly, he's pretty delusional. I don't really think he's a danger now, but dude has issues.

In your case, maybe this is it. Maybe on a smaller scale: the observations that he's feeling guilty may be apt, and it may be his way of feeling like he's a good dude who can maintain good relationships with women, regardless of whether they're romantic, friendships, or civil contact with the exes.

You don't seem to enjoy the contact, so keep ignoring. I'm also operating under the assumption that you told him contact was off-limits, so you can keep ignoring him. If it's tapering off, then it'll probably peter out fairly shortly, especially now that summer is here and things are starting to get busy. If he's happy to send you messages with no response, then they're really all about him, and don't really have anything to do with you, in any substantive way.

Kind of like telemarketing texts. Feel free to treat him like those announcements that you've just won a boat!
posted by vivid postcard at 10:30 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

but personally I recommend against this the same way I would recommend against feeding a troll.

Well see that's a problem, you're assuming they're calling in bad faith and I'm assuming nothing because I don't have ESP and can't know unless I ask 'em.
posted by squeak at 12:01 PM on March 22, 2012

This entire thread is nothing but baggage and fundamental attribution errors. Sorry some of you had shitty exes. This guy really doesn't sound like he did much to her besides break up via text.

So just block his number. I do not recommend speculating about people's (sinister) ulterior motives in an endless and cyclical hypotheticals.

Your questions says "why does he...?" and none of us can know that unless we are that dude. We can only tell you how to avoid it.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:31 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the feedback everyone, I think I have a better idea where he's coming from. Performance makes perfect sense from what I remember of his personality. I don't plan on talking to him or asking him for his reasons (if you expect him to answer honestly or even himself completely understand, you have more faith then I).

I was only looking for some varied reasons for his behaviour, and thank you to those who offered some. I've never felt the need to contact someone I dumped and it didn't make sense to me.

Obviously this isn't the greatest tragedy to hit mankind, but I was still surprised at the responses from people insinuating I'm wasting their time. I thought this was the purpose of Ask, to ask questions.

I'm marking this as resolved.
posted by Dynex at 2:12 PM on March 22, 2012

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