Anyone have any tips for reconnecting with an ex?
April 11, 2007 10:40 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any tips for reconnecting with an ex?

Within the past year, I've been playing with the idea of reconnecting with my ex. We had a tumultuous, passionate, on again, off again 6 year relationship that ended badly. We both moved on (it's been years since our breakup), have children from different relationships and now I find myself past all the bullshit and genuinely interested in what's going on with him. Out of respect for him, I decided not to burst unannounced into his life and had a mutual friend check with him to see if it was okay to shoot him an email. Our mutual friend called me last night with the thumbs up and his telephone number. Now I'm slightly twitterpated and nervous at the prospect of talking with him. Does anyone have any advice or stories to share?
posted by kelzabel to Human Relations (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My cynical position is that weather changes but people just keep on being who that are. If you or he need to Change in some way to make a relationship work I'd suggest you either do nothing or go into this thinking you'll at best end up with a pleasant acquaintance.

If on the other hand your problems with each other were ones of needing to learn new skills then maybe now's a good time for you. I think it's the difference between learning conflict resolution vs not being stubborn.

So if it's really a matter of being past all the bullshit, great. But if that bullshit is the inevitable result of your differing demeanors - he wants to see the world, you want to build and live in a dream home - then you're going to have a problem. If you can really identify the root causes of your problems and those no longer exist that's great, but my experience has been that relationships don't usually work that way.
posted by phearlez at 10:51 AM on April 11, 2007

umm. are you still in these relationships that you have children from? i don't seem to have enough info.
posted by mr_book at 10:57 AM on April 11, 2007

People DO change, but they also fall into familiar patterns with people they knew in the past. Awhile back I went to a reunion and I KNOW I've grown/changed a lot since I last saw this group of people last, but weirdly people seemed to fall into the same social patterns they had way back when.

So, if you do try this I'd suggest deliberately manipulating the environment so the two of you have vastly different experiences with one another then you did way back when.

Try to isolate what it is you are expecting to get out of the situation, if it is the passion you may be in for the rest of the tumultuous bullshit as well, which would be bad, as in capitol B, for the children from both ends.
posted by edgeways at 11:01 AM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Move on. I would say this even if the thought of talking to him didn't make you "twitterpated," etc.

You want to make a friendship out of an old relationship? It's not going to be friendship. Look, there's water in beer, but you wouldn't want to go through an elaborate, time-consuming process to extract the water from beer, would you? Just get some water.
posted by argybarg at 11:02 AM on April 11, 2007 [4 favorites]

Go for it, if you guys were together for 6 years, then you are inextricably linked forever no matter what other relationships you have had in the time since.

Understand, however, that this seldom goes well.

You're playing against the percentages, but, what does it matter? What do you really have to lose? If you were with him for 6 years, it is unlikely there is any "modesty" left between you two anyway.

So, in short:

Go for it, expect to lose.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:03 AM on April 11, 2007

The way I read your post, you aren't trying to rekindle anything, but just to tell him how you're doing, find out how he's doing, and maybe mend some bad feelings left by your breakup. If that's the case, send him an email in which you tell your story: why you're writing, highlights of your own recent history, and some good wishes for him. Write it as if you don't expect an answer, and even imagine you might not have any communication with him after that. Tell him you would be happy to hear how he's doing; don't be surprised if you don't hear from him. Ironically, the less you ask of him, the more likely you are to get a response.
posted by wryly at 11:05 AM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wryly, you are correct. I'm not looking to fact, my expectations are kind of low. We were once great friends before the romantic part of our relationship. I initially asked for his email address and he is the one that provided his telephone number. And for clarification, as far as I know, he's still happily married. I have never been married and am a single mom.
posted by kelzabel at 11:15 AM on April 11, 2007

Having been in the position of your "ex", when I got the call, I could sense the "twitterpating" and nervousness of my ex, and boy, my ego rating jumped off the scale!

My thoughts were something along this:
"Wow! After all these years she wants to talk with me and she sounds like a love struck teenager, all nervous and giggly! Even though I haven't given her much thought since I ditched her, she obviously has been burning for me for years! I'm the MAN! Too bad I'm all married and have kids...although she might be available for a nooner....wait til I tell the guys!"

Of course, you may get a nice, soft, fuzzy warm reaction, but the bottom line is, 'you can't go home again'.
posted by BozoBurgerBonanza at 11:19 AM on April 11, 2007

as far as I know, he's still happily married.

I hope she knows, and is ok with the two of you reconnecting.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:26 AM on April 11, 2007

Here's a tip: don't.

Some relationships are best left in the past. With most of my exes, I wish them well, and I wish them out of my life, forever.
posted by emd3737 at 12:10 PM on April 11, 2007

Second wryly. A well-crafted email gives you the time and space to correct any mistakes before you actually get in touch; you can't write a second draft of a phone call.

I've had two ex-girlfriends get in touch with me in the past; though neither relationship ended well (technically, one of them was a friend-with-benefits who things got out of hand with), both re-introductions worked because both women were honest, both more or less made it clear that they weren't interested in rekindling anything romantic, and both made it clear that they wanted to un-burn their bridges (which was very charitable, since I did as much burning as either of them).

Do it, be kind and respectful, but don't let your guard entirely down, for both your sakes. Someone mentioned upthread that people have a way of falling into old patterns, and it's paramount that you make sure that doesn't happen here.
posted by hifiparasol at 12:11 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

What is the point of reconnecting? Even if you do call him, chances are you aren't going to re-establish a friendship with him again. If you are sincerely interested in what is going on with him, you can get the scoop from your mutual friend. If you do call him, make sure you are honest with yourself about your expectations otherwise you'll be opening yourself up to a whole world of hurt.
posted by necessitas at 12:15 PM on April 11, 2007

My partner and I recently got friendly with an ex of his and the ex's wife, after my partner ran into the ex at a conference and discovered they had something in common in their lives now. We started with some really casual hanging-out: a picnic in a park with all six of our assorted kids along, dinner for all four adults at a casual Mexican place, stuff like that. There was never any thought that my partner and his ex might still have feelings for each other, but in any case, pursuing the idea that the families can be friends might help avoid any weirdness.

My partner and his ex haven't talked about the past much, which is perhaps part of why the emerging friendships are going so well: between the kids and some other things, we all have a lot in common now. My partner recently commented that he thinks it's possible his ex has forgotten the unpleasant circumstances of their breakup.

It is definitely possible for lover relationships to turn into friendships. My two closest friends (besides partner) are both ex-lovers...and his two closest friends are also his ex-lovers (that's only 3 people, because one of that trio is my ex-lover and his ex-lover. Ah, the giddy roller-coaster ride of youth!).

Be clear about what you want. If you want to re-visit the drama and passion, admit it to yourself and stay away. If you want to see whether there's something else there that would fit into your life now, make the call.

Good luck.
posted by not that girl at 12:24 PM on April 11, 2007

Only do it at all if you can do it with no expectation or need on your own behalf. If you find you have nothing to say to each other, will you be OK with that? If he's unhappy about something you did, or failed to do, will that be OK for you, too? If not, getting back in touch might not work out well.

If your motives are purely friendly (in which case, props to you -- that's hard to shift back to), and you are prepared to walk away if it happens to turn sour or painful, then go ahead and give him a call. It's still a little risky, yes, but much less so if no one has an agenda, and it can be really good to get some people back again, too.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:44 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

I called up an ex a year ago and we've been talking on the phone ever since (he lives 1,000 miles away now). I'm really glad I called him--it was a little formal at first, then maybe a little too flirty, but now he's a great person to call when I want to talk to someone for hours.

There's something about someone that used to love you--I get perspective on myself from him, and vice versa. I don't expect much from him, and I know his limitations. I don't need anything from him--make sure you're clear with yourself on that point. It works because our lives are separate and there's no resentment.

I once new him well, and he's one of the few people I can be really honest with, since he once knew everything about me, and loved me without judging. I think, if you're sure you're not still in love with him (it's okay to have some nostalgia, and to want good things for him), it's an okay idea to call.
posted by hamster at 1:23 PM on April 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't, just don't. He's married, he's moved on, and I'm thinking it's time for you to do the same.

If you do go for it, you'll find it's like going back and visiting some old haunt from your past, a bar or restaurant or something. You'll find it smaller than you remembered, and more unkept, and much much less charming.

Do yourself a favor and embrace the memories and otherwise move on.
posted by Elvis at 1:28 PM on April 11, 2007

Another vote for "bad idea."
posted by mcwetboy at 1:30 PM on April 11, 2007

I initially asked for his email address and he is the one that provided his telephone number. And for clarification, as far as I know, he's still happily married. I have never been married and am a single mom.

I'm changing my answer. Don't, under any circumstances. There's just too many ways this is a problem and for insufficient payoff. His wife might be threatened, he might think it's a chance for a little sumthinsumthin, you might get emotionally attached in a way that precludes you from finding new love, people may (will?) get the wrong impression and that could close off other opportunities for you or any number of icky things.
posted by phearlez at 1:53 PM on April 11, 2007

I think wryly nailed it. Write the letter. Write a few drafts of it if you need to. It'll be very cathartic, even if you've already reached closure (which it sounds like you have). You can always decide to send it or not. Just be clear on why you're sending it, and what you expect...and make sure the contents of your letter reflect that.

I did this a while ago. It wasn't offensive or negative - I thought I wrote something pretty neutral, and I did it for me. It was 6 years after the relationship ended. It was received in the worst way imaginable (his wife intercepted, tore the card into pieces, mailed me back the bits and a psychotic letter). After the shock of that wore off, I found that because I sent the card for my benefit purely, as a friendly gesture and a way to send some kindness out there in the world, the outcome didn't matter. It made me realize that I had already received closure (much earlier) on that subject. But it was sad too, because obviously he was married to somebody who was insecure/aggro/whatever, but there was nothing I could or needed to do. It made me realize that moving on is a state of mind, and not defined by wedding rings, or accomplishments, or statements that try to express the words "I've/we've moved on" (her reply actually said they that had moved on, and nastily suggested I do the same). I could see that I had already gotten there, and that I had matured a lot. I was very glad I sent that letter. And while I wish it was received differently, the worst case scenario taught me a lot, and affected me positively. I didn't even feel the need to keep any of that stuff. I just let it go.

Imagine the worst case scenario and try to imagine how that would make you feel. It's hard to do of course. Go with your instincts, a clear objective, and a plan for dealing with possible fallout.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:05 PM on April 11, 2007

I don't see why it's such a bad idea when you're not looking to rekindle anything, just catch up. My boyfriend still keeps in touch with his ex-es and it's been fine - they're just his friends now while I am the Main Girl (haha).

My best friend, who is as close to me as any partner ever will, disappeared from my life for 9 months. I seriously thought she wanted nothing to do with me. At the end of that nine months she popped up out of nowhere with an email. It was probably awkward on her part, but I'm glad she responded. We're much closer now.

So yeah, just give it a shot - even if it's just an email saying "Hi". You won't lose anything.
posted by divabat at 2:20 PM on April 11, 2007

Can you honestly see this as bring a "I wanted to touch base and see how things are with you, and I'm so glad I did. Thanks so much, this has been a great conversation. Good luck with everything." kind of one-time thing? Then ok.

Can you see it being a "I wanted to catch up with you, now that we're living in the same area again. I'd love to get together with our families sometime." thing? Okay.

"I've been working on this [specific kind of project he was always interested in] lately, and I found myself wondering what you would say about it. I'd love to get together and talk [project] sometime," okay. Starting a polite friendship based on your current shared interests, ok.

But be brutally honest with yourself. If your real motivation is "I've been lonely, and wondering what things would have been like if we had stayed together"? No. This is putting yourself in a position of weakness, where you'll either earn his pity or give him a chance to show he is sleazy enough to cheat on his wife. Bad idea. You gain nothing either way.

"Deep in my secret heart I'm wondering if maybe, just maybe, that passion will still be there." Bad idea. You were both younger, in a different phase of life, with higher highs and lower lows, when you were together. Almost certainly the passion is not there anymore. And, as someone mentions above, he will be able to hear it in your voice if you're hoping the phone is a time machine, or if you're thinking "he was so great" hero-worshippy thoughts. Again, you'll earn a gentle brush-off, or sleaze -- and neither of these is good for you.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:38 PM on April 11, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks to all who posted. There's some good stuff in here. There is much to think about and be clear about my own expectations. For the record, I've played fast and loose with the rules on several occasions, but I don't cross certain boundaries. He's married. Period. Again, many thanks.
posted by kelzabel at 2:55 PM on April 11, 2007

For the record, I've played fast and loose with the rules on several occasions, but I don't cross certain boundaries. He's married. Period.

Please don't think I was implying you'd do anything crappy, I merely meant that even if you were to have perfect control over your own heart - which few of us do - and could be sure you wouldn't develop any feelings or painful longings, there's terrific potential for other people to behave badly, be paranoid or develop uncomfortable impulses of their own.

Good luck.
posted by phearlez at 7:23 AM on April 12, 2007

Yes - I didn't mean to suggest that you would go along with any sleaze. Just that if you called him with a thought in the back of your mind like "what would it have been like", then he might hear that, interpret it as you wanting to hook up, and then he might act in a sleazy way -- which would put you in the unhappy position of having to turn him down and being disappointed to discover how sleazy he was.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:27 PM on April 12, 2007

« Older How do I tell her Grandma doesn't love her?   |   need a live salmon in NYC- hivemind, help! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.