How texting after a breakup can worsen the damage, the danger of ping-texts, and how to use this all to your advantage.
If you’re fresh out of a breakup, the impulse to text your ex may be hard to resist. But, that’s one of the worst things you can do right now (aside from calling them or going to their house, throwing rocks at their bedroom window and serenading them with a Phil Collins song). Your thumbs can get you in a lot of trouble right now. But, there’s good news: You can use this all to your advantage!
If you’ve just been dumped, you probably aren’t in the best state of mind to be talking to your ex right now. Your ex probably isn’t in the right frame of mind to be talking to you either. The breakup is probably tougher on them than they would admit. Ending a relationship (at least one that had any value to begin with) is never easy for either partner. Though talking to them may be just about the only thing you can think about doing right now, you’re likely to do much more damage than good by contacting your ex. The things you would say to them, though they may seem really important for you to get off your chest right now, will probably leave you with a lot of regret down the road. Hurt feelings are likely to come out. Things are likely to be said that one or both of you will regret later. Most importantly, you are going to show the unattractive trait of desperation and that will be the memory of you that you leave with your ex.
Whether you are seeking reconciliation or simply wanting to heal your wounded heart and move on, it is important that you take a step back before making any contact with your ex. Do not communicate with them until you are sure you’ve got your feet planted firmly on the ground and your head screwed back on. Give yourself some time to get back on track so that when you do make contact with your ex again you will showing a new-and-improved and more confident version of yourself.
You also have to give them some time to miss you. Your ex is probably missing you more than you would realize. Breakups are kind of like wars. There is a perceived winner and a perceived loser, but it’s not all popsicles and pizza for either side. They may seem to have an easier time keeping face and dealing with the emotional aftermath, but really that is largely up to you. Avoiding desperate actions will not only make you look strong, but may also expose those feelings that your ex may still have for you.
Once you cut off ties altogether with your ex, you may start to see what I have come to call “pinging” behavior. Your ex expects you to chase after them a little bit when they leave. When this doesn’t happen (or stops happening), that can play on their insecurities. You will probably see after a few weeks of no-contact (or sooner), that your ex will start to text you. I call these texts “pings”. Your ex will find reasons to contact you. Maybe they do this just to see how you’re doing. Maybe they just want to goad you into showing that you are hopelessly lost without them so that they feel better about being kind of lost too. Maybe they just do it because they miss you. Sure enough, they will do it.
What these pings will look like.
Now, it’s not likely your ex is just going to start texting you out of the blue to tell you that they love you, want you back, and are on their way over with your favorite movie and a new puppy dog (although if that happens, you probably should take them up on the offer.) It’s more likely that the texts will look something like this:
I think I left my blue North Face jacket at your apartment. Have you seen it?
I got a piece of mail delivered here for you from Publisher’s Clearing House. It says that you may have won 5 million dollars?
You hadn’t seen them wear that jacket in ages so you know that’s not really the reason they’re texting you. That’s not the real reason they are contacting you. They are pinging. They want to elicit some sort of response from you. The content of the texts will be thinly veiled and easy to see through if you know to be looking for these pings.
But, hey! You’ve now made the first step! Your ex is contacting you, rather than the other way around. But this can be dangerous. Don’t get too excited. At this stage, your ex is really trying to get a response from you. They are reaching out to seek the response that you have withheld from them by not desperately calling or texting since the breakup and professing your undying love for them. Although they may have been the one who dumped you, they now are feeling rejected by this lack of emotional response from you.
Before I get into how to handle pinging texts, I want to address what “no-contact” really looks like. Firstly, I know that complete no-contact is not always possible. Depending on how intertwined your life with your ex was it may be very difficult to maintain complete absence of contact. If you were married, you may have important financial issues to address. If you have children together, obviously you will need to maintain some contact with your ex. You can’t always completely ignore them and it is important to avoid avoidance. If your ex texts you and you completely ignore this and don’t respond at all you appear rude and may just make them angry or show that you are not, in fact, doing alright without them (even if you are far from alright without them, you want to let them think that you are during this period of no-contact.)
Text Your Ex Back
How to handle pinging texts.
You should respond if your ex texts you. Don’t ignore them, but don’t respond right away. Even if you get the text right away, let some time pass before responding. This will give them some time to hang on and anticipate your response and also give them the impression that you are out living life without them and not just sitting by the phone waiting for them to text you.
You will want to keep this response brief but pleasant. Keep it down to business. You do not want to be rude. Just keep it short. Interact with them the same way you would interact with a server at a restaurant (unless you’re a jerk. If you’re a jerk, interact with them the way you think a decent person would interact with a service person.) The most important ground rule here is this: you have to let them send the last message. This requires some restraint, but will leave a little bit of emotional power on your side.
Even if the texts are obviously pinging, it’s best to address them as if they’re legitimate. If your ex is texting to ask how your pet hedgehog, Albert is doing these days just respond that he’s doing great and still loves to eat ants. Leave it at that. Do not invite them to come over and cuddle with Albert. It’s not time for that yet. At this stage, you are just going to be aloof. Keep the contact short and make them work for it just a little bit. The time for more intimate communication will come along, and when it does, if you keep following this tact, you will have a great advantage.
Don’t get caught up with text messages early on and let your thumbs become your worst enemies. You can get your ex back if you really are committed to it. I’ve shown you just a glimpse here of how you can start to turn things around. This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can get your ex back! Best of all, if you follow this path you will have them initiating it all (with just a little help from some key emotional cues that you can put into play).
Best of luck! I know you can do it!