Get rid of urge to call ex
July 20, 2008 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Urge to call ex

I still get an urge to call someone I dated a year ago. I know it would make no sense, as he ended things with me. I know I wouldn't "get closure" by calling him, he probably wouldn't answer the phone and even if he did I know there's no point "confronting" him as it's been way too long, I would be making an ass of myself by wanting to talk to him. I know what he's like and trying to talk to him will not heal anything, he is not like a trusted friend, he actually ended our relationship quite callously. So, I have to heal myself. i guess I am basically looking for some perspective on this, like faith that I will get over it. For God's sake I still remember his phone number even though i never wrote it down. : ) Eek! Help! : ) The urge to call generally comes when I'm feeling good, not when I'm feeling angry or sad or anything. I did enjoy the time we spent together, I thought he was sweet and intelligent, and yes, there was brief talk of marriage, though this can't really be taken seriously in a way as we only dated a few months. I think my feelings are natural, to want closure, he just stood me up to end things. So even though I get myself, i am sick of this nonsensical urge to call him. I think it's just curiousity, like, is he still alive and in town, that's all I'd learn from his machine anyway.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
"When they don't call me back, I just pretend they're dead." - Miranda Hobbes

I'm in somewhat the same boat. It's tough. It does get easier, though. I promise. Time is all that will help, really.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:38 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think it's just curiousity, like, is he still alive and in town

That's what searching on MySpace and/or Facebook is for. And it's so much better than calling because your ex will never know.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Whenever the horrible feeling strikes to call up a former boyfriend, I just imagine myself calling him while he is on a date with a new girlfriend. That visual as well as the hypothetical awkwardness is enough to ward me away from any of those impulses for awhile.
posted by amicamentis at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

Why don't you write him a note/card saying whatever it is you would like to say or ask and post it in your drawer?
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:00 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

This long past the end of the relationship, you run the risk of becoming obsessive. Let's say the phone call doesn't go so bad. Then you're going to want to try again the next time you're curious, and the next time. Do not become a stalker. You are better than that. There are millions of other guys out there.
posted by netbros at 1:04 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

change your thinking is really the only way. set up a routine - when you start thinking about calling him, have something set that you do - go for a bike ride, do 20 push ups, give yourself a manicure. don't allow yourself to dwell on what a phone call would or would not answer.

he's a single tool in the box of men, go find yourself a few good screws and i'd bet you'll wash that man right out of your hair.
posted by nadawi at 1:12 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

Calling up a friend you enjoy is a much better use of a good mood than trying to make contact with someone who cast you aside. Phone someone that you can do something fun with that'll get your mind off of this notion, even temporarily.

What he did might have been cruel, might have been unwise, but he left you and it doesn't sound like he was very nice about it. There's better uses for your time than trying to get hurt again.
posted by EatTheWeak at 1:15 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Let's say the phone call doesn't go so bad. Then you're going to want to try again the next time you're curious, and the next time.

God damn this dredged up some old memories. Years ago I called an ex a few months after we broke up for the last time. Conversation went really well, and so I called again a week later (I really wanted to stay on friendly terms since we shared so much of our lives together). She told me that while she appreciated the call, she thought it was too soon for us to speak to each other regularly. I was really hurt. Months later she called me, trying to strike up a conversation. I turned her down cold, because I was still hurt from the last time. This went back and forth a couple more times. Years later, we've never spoken again.

It hurts. It really hurts. But it's better to move on. For both of your sakes. Don't dig up the past. There's a reason why you buried it there. You don't need to relive the pain, just to prove to yourself once again that that pain deserves to be buried.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 1:28 PM on July 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

I don't understand exactly what the problem is here...

He's your ex, you were in a relationship where the subject of marriage came up - it doesn't sound like it was a bad relationship or that you caught him screwing your bff... it doesn't seem like there is a compelling reason NOT to call the guy if it's what you want.

Call the guy. Say, "Hey whatsup? I was just wondering what you were up to nowadays. Sorry we lost touch, etc." Doesn't mean you have to start bumping uglies with each other again, or that you ever have to talk to him after the fact.

Of course know that he may react badly, but he could just as easily be happy to hear from you.
posted by wfrgms at 1:33 PM on July 20, 2008

Ugh! Do not let this guy know you're still sitting on window sils sighing over him. Yeah... Ugh! Greener pastures my girl! There are bigger assholes out there that can rock your world much much harder anyway :) I like to be funny... there are good men out there that are just as effective too :) Good-luck!!
(Just in case you're like me and you hear what you want to hear... No. Just no! Baaad idea. Go out and meet people or just do something, anything? And forget that number!)
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 1:57 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll make this short and sweet: why the urgent desire to humiliate yourself?

this is the point in time where you're supposed to rebound with ben&jerrie's on your couch watching golden girls reruns. there is nothing you can do about a messy thing in your past but calling him will not get you the desired result, even if that is just to have a frank talk.
posted by krautland at 1:58 PM on July 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

Try to remind yourself that calling him gives him your power. Then think about/talk about/ try to find a new love interest. Life goes on.
posted by JennyK at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

Imagine that calling him is like picking a scab. Sure, it's really tempting, and possibly even fun while you do it, but you risk more pain and bleeding and possible infection.

Just remind yourself what a jerk he was. Calling him says, "hey, it's ok you were a jerk to me! I'd like that treatment again, please!" Is that what you really want? No.
posted by Koko at 4:46 PM on July 20, 2008 [4 favorites]

You know, there will be that moment where your ex will run into a situation where he will see you smiley and happy, and it will catch you entirely off-guard, and you will not want to say anything to him or hear what he has to say. That moment will shock you not only because of how incredible it is to of all places and times in the world be in the same place and at the same time there, you two again, it will shock you by the fact that you will continue smiling just like seconds before you noticed his presence, and that indeed, you will not want to talk to him. Until then, there is no difference or rule if you can call or not, you can definitily allow it to yourself, or you can glue up your fingers and sit on your palms and not call, and there is no empowerment that flows from you to him or from him to you. We women tend to think that closure can be achieved by talking. In reality too often talking raises more unanswered questions. The moment the relationship is over, you are fully capable of closure yourself, it just takes time, and compassion towards yourself. You are not doing other things together, so why analyse it together? Trust his knowledge about himself (I suspect you understand on some level that he knew he was not a fit partner to help you to achieve your desires, marriage or other things) and his reality about what was that relationship between you (not one of his highest values, probably?). Have trust in that knowledge that he was sure as hell he could not give you what you needed and deserved. Call or not call, that reality will not change. Love yourself. The only way out is through.
posted by Jurate at 5:38 PM on July 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

I had a similar situation a year or so ago, same stage. I resisted the urge, mainly because I pictured what would happen if he actually answered, and I went through the scenarios - and they all kind of sucked. Most likely it would have been an awkward conversation where we were just like, "Hey, what's up, glad you're doing well, um, yeah, bye..."

You probably don't really care what he's up to, and you probably don't want to be his friend, because it was kind of a jerk move to just stand you up to end a relationship, and that's not the kind of thing that a really sweet guy does, and not something you want to build a friendship on.

It makes sense that you want to call when you feel good (I did too!) - after awhile, I realized I had some desire to show him that I was happy and doing well. But then that made me think - why am I going to bother to call him and basically condone his behavior, like hey, you pulled a really dickish move and not only did it not matter but it was such an okay thing for you to do that I'm going to call you up and say hey. Yeah, no. If I ran into him and he saw me happy and doing well, well then that's great - but I wasn't about to seek him out.

The good news - it totally will fade. I can't say exactly when. But it will. And closure will come sooner if you don't pick at the scab (good analogy above).
posted by KAS at 6:43 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had this desire as well, but have resisted the urge. My wish would be to say some things I didn't think of during the breakup phone call. Nothing mean or clever (ala jerk store) but just some things I wish I'd said instead of just agreeing with her assessment and each saying good luck and goodbye. I wish I actually did the grown-up thing and talk about our relationship but it rarely seems to work that way I guess. She lives two hours away so a casual friendship seems unlikely but I 'd be down for it if she was interested.

Anyway, what stops me is the thought of the details of the call being reported back her girlfriends who know some of the girls that run in my group. "OMG! bda1972 was weeping like a little bitch and begging me to come back. Wait until this gets on YouTube!" My ex actually made the statement to her friend that she hoped to not receive any mean emails listing her faults, so I take that as no contact desired. It's a shame because I could actually see us remaining friends since I genuinely liked her.

Nth others, I try to picture her happy on a date or with a new boyfriend. I would feel like a major ass to show up in that situation. It also helps to ask that age old question that applies to so many situations: What to you hope to gain? And be honest.

The pain eventually fades, but getting back out there and meeting guys and having fun speeds up the process. Sitting in your apartment reminiscing is not the way to heal.
posted by bda1972 at 8:34 PM on July 20, 2008

I'll go against the tide here. There's nothing wrong with having a friendly conversation with an ex-boyfriend. There are a few old flames that are now very cherished friends.

You need to be really, truly over the person to do that. However, if you're harboring a tiny flicker of hope that he'll fall back in love with you, then calling him is a recipe for emotional torture. The problem is most of us think we're over someone long before we are.

How do you know if you're ready to have him as a friend? There's nothing foolproof, but try imagining this. You call him and he's happy to talk. Then he tells you that he met the love of his life a week after you broke up. He got married last month. You should come over for dinner.

If imagining that gives you pain or jealousy then you're not ready. Try again in a few months.
posted by 26.2 at 9:19 PM on July 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

I understand your urge. I have called my ex a few times over the past 8 years we have been apart. I was married to him for 23 years and after every time I called, I felt like a loser. Don't do it. I'm not a loser. You're not either.
posted by wv kay in ga at 9:47 PM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have someone like that. I think many people do. Thinking about calling her is generally an indication, for me, that things aren't going well in my life. So I take it as a sign to go and do something else, preferably something social, with friends.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:59 AM on July 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

I have to say I am a guy and I feel like that from time to time as well....what stops me from making the phone call is what i read here once in askmefi......."If she wanted to talk to me she would have picked up the phone and call me" now I know that she may be wanting to talk to me and may be thinking the same thing but if we aren't brave enough or are too proud to call each other as friends then maybe we shouldnt be talking in the first place either.............I also agree with the comment that says that if you are thinking about calling this person it is an indication that you should be doing something else like being more social, dating other people and generally doing things that will allow you to stop thinking about this situation.
posted by The1andonly at 6:45 AM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had a similar sentiment to call an ex. Whenever I have this urge, I think of the really bad times we had and the fact that she was very emotionally unbalanced.

If you feel like talking to this guy, think about how he screwed you over. If this doesn't do the trick, then write him a letter saying what you would want to say to him in the phone call. Then, whenever you get the urge to talk to him, pull the letter out and look at it. Add to it if you want.

You want to talk to him for your own purposes, and the above method should be better than having to dig up old feelings.
posted by reenum at 9:06 AM on July 21, 2008

This question feels like something I could have written.

I've actually been in the same situation (well, still am)--dated someone for a few months, thought he was sweet and intelligent, then, with no apparent signs that anything was amiss, he broke up with me quite callously, as well (by way of vanishing).

I never got the closure I thought I wanted, such as why he wanted to end things, and I didn't get to say to him the things I wanted to say. The time I tried to reach out to him after all that happened was through e-mail and I was asking him to return my things--a request that went unanswered and unfulfilled.

Even though he hurt me in the end, I still care about him as a person, I still wonder what he's up to and every once and a while I have an urge to contact him to talk. These urges also occur during moments of happiness. I had to be really honest with myself as to why I wanted to talk to him, though, and the reason was that I wanted answers that I never got, but most of all I wanted to make peace. Like you, knowing the type of person he is now, I know that such a discussion would bring more harm than good. So I had to let that feeling go. I have to constantly remind myself of how he hurt me and that he's not worth my time or consideration. I was made to see the cowardly and inconsiderate person he really was, and that was all the closure I needed.

I agree with everyone else: don't do it. Call up a friend during those times. It's a much better use of your time to talk to someone you enjoy talking to and with someone who cares about you. Or find something else to occupy your time, such as a hobby or sport you enjoy, anything that keeps you active. The suggestion to write down the things you want to say is a good one, as well, as I find that writing things down is really cathartic.

It is hard, and if you're sensitive like me, the urge may take a while to go away. I know that I'll always think about him, as I do with all the other people I dated, and I'll always wonder from time to time what they're up to, but that urge to actually make the effort to contact them fades. For this current one, I'm still waiting for that urge to completely dissipate, but I know that it eventually will, and it will for you, too.

You can contact me if you like if you need someone to talk or vent to. Take care.
posted by blithely at 10:55 AM on July 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Write down what you were thinking about just before you get the urge. Do it for a week. You may figure out something else is bothering you.

Alternatively get a pitch counter (available at sporting goods stores). Like the one in that dumb Axe commericial where Jessica Simpson's ex husband clicks every time he gets a look from a woman. Every time you have the urge to call, click the counter. Record your number at the end of the day. At first the numbers will go up quite alarmingly. However they will level off and then drop off to nothing. Problem solved.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:39 PM on July 21, 2008

I would look at it as simply an addictive glitch. More of a habit ingrained in your brain, less really wanting to connect with him. Maybe try to treat it as breaking a bad habit?
posted by Vaike at 12:59 PM on July 21, 2008

I wanted to come back and add some more to this just because the advice is mostly so one sided:

It's obvious that you should not let a phone call that you either make or don't make run your life, or cause emotional stress.

Either you call the guy, or you don't. Either way you have to ask yourself, "How does this really affect me? How does it control me or hurt me?"

It's a phone call. Not a life altering choice.

Maybe you call the guy and it's awkward and awful and you feel stupid and childish after wards, but who cares? Who's going to know about it after the fact? Would you really let any bad feelings that come from it control you? You shouldn't.

Maybe you call him up and it reignites a spark. Maybe something good comes out of it.

The way I see it, you have nothing to loose and something to gain by acting on your instinct. It doesn't mean you're a looser, or that you're incapable of meeting other people... it doesn't mean anything unless you LET it mean something - giving that level of control to a simple phone call is silly.
posted by wfrgms at 2:50 PM on July 21, 2008

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