Welcome to January. A time we associate with starting afresh, picking up good new habits, and feeling ready for change.
So, hanging on to an ex who isn’t right for you doesn’t quite fit the bill.
Yet, after the blurry and nostalgic Christmas period, many of us might have found ourselves caught up in rekindled romance, or at least a confusing string of messages.
We warned you not to text them back – or at least to think twice before you do – but if you’re reading this we’re guessing you did, or you maybe even text first. Which is understandable – the festive period can be both lonely and emotional.
Some exes are after all, worth a second chance. Or a third, fourth, fifth.
But in the cold light of January day, things might look and feel a little different than they did a week ago.
So, now what?
Depending on the outcome of that exchange, here’s what an expert thinks you should do:
They ghosted you again
Now you’re hurt, and perhaps a little embarrassed to tell your friends they upped and virtually left – just like last time.
Lucy Beresford, accredited relationships psychotherapist, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Compassion is absolutely key here, because it’s very easy to fall back on self-blame.
‘Remember, it can take time for a pattern to reveal itself. Maybe you have a big heart and you wanted to believe this best of this person.’
Instead of feeling foolish, think of it as confirmation. Now you know they haven’t changed and perhaps bailing is a part of the way they handle their relationships.
‘Now you have extra information, so you will know what to do the next time they come calling – say to yourself: “You hurt me once, more fool me; you hurt me twice, more fool you,”‘ says Lucy.
Ghosting is a ‘them’ problem, not a ‘you’ problem.
They’re showing the same red flags
We get it, you hoped they might have grown and changed in the time you’ve had apart. Sadly, it looks as though they will likely bring the same issues to the table as last time.
Is it worth the stress?
‘A red flag is a red flag,’ Lucy says. ‘If they cannot be bothered to invest energy in addressing their behaviour, then you need to get out and start being available for someone who does value you.
‘If the feeling are still there, acknowledge that this is an ending, and a disappointment.
‘Going “cold turkey” sounds hard but it is really the only way to move on more quickly.
‘Soothe yourself as you would at any other times of grief, and remember this will pass.’
You know how the story ended last time, and if the beginnings are the same again – you already have all the plot spoilers.
The conversation is still going – but you’re unsure of their intentions
This can be an awkward one – maybe you don’t want to jump the gun and suggest meeting, romantically or platonically.
Maybe you simply want to wait it out and see how things go.
This can work, but not if they know the conversation is serving as more of an ego boost than anything else.
In vague situations, Lucy says: ‘Come at this from your own needs and values.
‘What do you want? If you are unsure, make a list of the non-negotiable aspects of a relationship, such as how much time you want to see them, how much communication, and so on.
‘Then arrange a time to meet where you both have time to talk, like a dinner or a long walk, and explain what your needs are in a relationship.
‘If they can’t or are not ready to meet your needs, what you have may end – but it will be so much better to know now, than to have your heart broken further down the line by someone whose needs are goals are different from yours.’
They want to reconcile
You might do too, and this could actually be a healthy thing.
You have the advantage of knowing each other’s flaws already, so use that wisely.
‘Make a list of the red flags that existed when you were together previously. This way you will see where your boundaries need to be,’ says Lucy.
‘Have a conversation with them about these areas, and gently state what your boundaries now are.
‘If they agree to those, then you can proceed with getting back together, but you both now know what your own particular boundaries are.’
They want to reconcile – but you’re over it
Perhaps for you, friendship is all you’d be interested in – or nothing at all.
No good can come from stringing an ex along – even if they hurt you in the past and it feels ‘fair’.
‘Honesty is the best policy,’ Lucy says. ‘You wouldn’t want to be strung along by someone you really like if they only want to be friends.
‘Better to be the bigger, kinder person by giving them clarity, even if it may hurt them in the very short term.’
If they display toxic behaviour, it may be worth going a step further and removing them from your social channels.
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