A lot of people are feeling the urge to get in touch with their exes right now.
This desire is normal, as people crave company and comfort in uncertain situations, licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman told Insider.
It’s fine to get back in touch with your ex if you’re genuinely interested in checking in on them.
However, be mindful of boundaries if your ex is with someone else, may still be in love with you, or has indicated that they don’t want further communication with you.
If you want to get back together with your ex, hold off until after the pandemic to make a decision.
*Name has been changed.
After my ex and I broke up last June, I spent a few weeks crying on and off, but then I pretty much moved on. That only lasted until my city went on lockdown this March, and I found myself lonely at home, G-chatting my ex with the frequency I would during our relationship.
I didn’t have any machinations to get back together, but just speaking to him in this familiar way was comforting.
But it turns out there may be a good reason we’re being drawn to our past loves.
“The uncertainty of what our future may look like, the unfamiliarity with our ‘new normal,’ and inevitable social isolation can be the perfect storm to make you miss your ex,” licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Jaime Zuckerman told Insider.
‘Human beings often gravitate towards structure and familiarity’
It’s only natural to be craving the (albeit virtual) company of people we care about while quarantined.
“The concept of social distancing goes very much against our basic needs as humans to seek connection,” Zuckerman said.
“Scrolling through your newsfeed posts of friends cuddled on the couch with their significant others or ‘having a lazy Sunday’ laying in bed together can serve as a continuous reminder that you are home, alone, and single,” she added. “The basic need for connection, when connection is not as accessible, is likely to bring up memories of others, including an ex. Memories, feelings, and even a desire to hear their voice can help foster a sense of connection during social isolation.”
An ex can be a particularly alluring person because they provide familiarity during uncertain times.
“Human beings often gravitate towards structure and familiarity,” Zuckerman said. “Routine helps predict what comes next, giving us a sense of control over our environment. This process is even more prevalent during times of heightened stress.”
The desire to reach out to an ex isn’t always bad, either; sometimes, it’s borne from genuine concern for their wellbeing.
QM Hall*, 25, has FaceTimed an ex a couple of times over the course of the quarantine to check up on him, and she doesn’t regret the decision. “I obviously cared for him, because he was the ‘high school sweetheart,’ but I was extremely close with his family on top of that,” she told Insider.
Sometimes, it’s a simple desire for amusement that makes us reach out to our exes. “Boredom can result in people making familiar (and sometimes unhealthy) choices in an effort to alleviate their boredom,” according to Zuckerman.
Gabriella, 28, FaceTimed someone she dated over two years ago for this reason. “I’m more bored than I’ve ever been,” she told Insider. “There’s only so much to do in a 500-square-foot apartment by yourself. So I’ve been reaching out to a lot of people.”
Other times, the desire is for sex. “I’ve been thinking a lot about reaching my ex in the quarantine period,” Braxton, 23, told Insider. “I miss her body so much. I’m so horny and haven’t had sex since we broke up.”
Make sure you don’t have an ulterior motive
So, is it OK to reach out to your ex? It can be, as long as it’s coming out of genuine caring and you don’t have ulterior motives, according to Zuckerman.
If you haven’t been in contact for a while, she recommends starting with a simple text or DM and seeing how receptive they are.
However, there are some situations where you’ll want to tread carefully. If getting back together is not your intention and you think your ex may not be over the breakup, it’s best to avoid giving them false hope. And if they’ve blocked or unfriended you on social media, you should respect their desire to discontinue communication.
You should also be mindful of boundaries if your ex is currently dating someone else.
“If you know they are in another relationship (or maybe even married), it may not be the best idea to reach out, as this has the potential to cause conflict and add stress to an already stressful situation,” said Zuckerman.
If you yourself are in another relationship, reaching out to your ex isn’t necessarily a problem, especially if you already talk to them from time to time. It’s a red flag, however, if you feel the need to hide your communications with your ex from your partner, Zuckerman said.
“The most important thing is to think very carefully about your intentions and what you’re hoping to get out of this, both in the short-term and the long-term,” said psychologist Elena Touroni, PsyD, cofounder and co-CEO of My Online Therapy.
“We’re all feeling vulnerable at the moment — and your ex is likely to be feeling this way too, so be mindful of that. Is reaching out right now going to serve you both in the long-term?”
It may not be the time to make big decisions
In some cases, the chance to reflect may make people rethink whether their breakups were the right decision, and they may desire more than a brief communication with an ex.
“People may be more inclined to reach out to an ex to make amends, apologize, or seek forgiveness,” Zuckerman said.
If you do want to get back together, make sure the quarantine has been a positive influence to help you reach that realization, rather than a deceptive force drawing you toward a relationship that wasn’t right.
“I often tell my patients not to make any major life decisions, unless absolutely necessary, during times of heightened emotions and chaos,” Zuckerman said. “You do not want to reconnect if that reconnection is solely based on avoidance of an uncomfortable emotion.”
One thing to think about is whether something has changed since you broke up that would make your relationship different the second time around.
“As tempting as it might be, you want to avoid putting yourself in a situation that is going to make things more upsetting and difficult for you in the long-term,” Touroni added. “If the relationship was complex and challenging the first time around, I would encourage someone to think carefully about whether this is a positive move for them during an already vulnerable time.”
If it seems like there are potentially mutual feelings that go beyond friendship, you can ask your ex where they stand and tell them you’d like to hold off on making a decision about your relationship until after the pandemic.
As New York City-based therapist Rachel Wright previously told Insider’s Julia Naftulin: “If you want to meet up afterwards just identifying, ‘This is not us getting back together. This is us building a friendship,’ or ‘This is us trying to rekindle and get back together,'” is an essential conversation, Wright said.
For now, you don’t have to give up entirely on the idea of getting back together, but consider tabling your feelings until you’re in a mentally healthy state.
Read the original article on Insider