Occasionally, you may end up wielding all the power in a relationship with one of your exes. When this happens, it’s tempting to keep in touch with your ex and make sure that he is doing alright. But that’s not always the best idea.
“I broke up with him,” says Zelda G.*, 22. “We still talk from time to time. … I care for him, because he is a wonderful guy. He has not moved on. … [I] feel guilty sometimes.”
Part of you knows that your ex doesn’t deserve to be strung along. By checking in on how he’s doing, you’re alleviating some of your guilt over the situation. But it’s also possible that your continued contact signals a deeper issue. Have you been beating yourself up or feeling down lately? If so, keeping in touch with a guy who really liked you is acting as a quick ego-boost. Be the bigger person here. Don’t keep your ex dangling by a thread while you work out your own issues. Cut the cord, already!
“I was going out with my high school sweetheart. We were nerds together. We had an on-and-off relationship for 4 years. I broke up with him after I graduated from high school, because I was moving to a different state for college. Plus, my parents hated him. There were also some other things that we just couldn’t agree on. He was so upset. He got mad whenever his friends would talk to me. Just imagine how he must have felt – like he had to keep everyone away from me. I felt bad, honestly. He still messages me, telling me about how he went into the army. I care for him as a friend and care for his well-being. He’s a nice guy, which is the only reason why I still talk to him. He has gone out with two girls since our breakup. He dumped the first girl because I was single, and he wanted to get back together with me. I then started going out with my current boyfriend, so he started dating another girl, whom I was friends with. Honestly, I feel like he still hasn’t moved on. He has to message me in secret, because his girlfriend hates me – all because I was his ex. He always texts me in the middle of the night, saying ‘I’m glad you’re okay.’ or ‘I miss you.’ I usually don’t bother responding to those messages.”
– Dani S., 21
“I broke up with him. We still talk from time to time; he really wanted to keep in touch with me. I care for him, because he is a wonderful guy. He has not moved on and has had a really hard time ever since I broke up with him. My decision makes me feel guilty sometimes, and I have some second thoughts occasionally. But for now, I wouldn’t change my mind about the guy.”
– Zelda G.*, 22
“I don’t know if my story even falls in this category, since my ex and I are now back together. Basically, I broke up with my boyfriend after we had been together from the summer after 8th grade through the summer before our senior year of high school. I really just lost my feelings for him and, as bad and cliche as it may sound, I wanted to meet other guys and explore other potential relationships. I wanted to be single! When we broke up, he was absolutely devastated. I felt terrible, because we had been best friends since 7th grade. He tried to win me back. After a while, he wanted nothing to do with me, as he had started talking to another girl, 2 months after our breakup. But, a couple of weeks or so before I found out he was interested in someone else, I had started to really miss him. We kept in touch a little bit following the breakup, but not much. To be honest, I think I was pretty jealous of the other girl, but I would never have admitted it at the time. Anyway, when it didn’t work out with the other girl, I told him how much I missed him, but that I was also scared of losing my feelings for him again. Ultimately, we did start dating again. Now, we’re still together and stronger than ever, 2 years later!”
– Sherrie D.*, 19
“It was a mutual break up. We will text each other about one sentence a month (i.e. ‘Hey, just saw your grandparents’ or ‘Hey, we are gonna kill your football team at the game!’). She wasn’t a nice person. We both moved on. I don’t ever see her, so I don’t really care anymore.”
– Nick J., 19
“My story is kind of funny, actually. My ex broke up with me and broke my heart, but I picked myself up and moved on. Then he came crawling back, begging at my feet. He had broken up with me because I wouldn’t put out. So he’s not getting another chance. It’s too bad that he missed out on the best thing that will ever happen to him. He’s been a wreck ever since then, can’t get his life together, and is drowning in regret. We still talk every now and then. I’ll always care for him; he was my first love. But it can never be like it used to be.
– Judy D.*, 19
“I broke up with my ex. This was over a year ago. We did not talk at first, but we do talk to each other now. We are able to be civil and check in on each other every once in a while. Plus, you can’t forget those occasional drunk messages. Oops!
I care for him like I would a friend. I would not get back together with him, but I recognize that he’s a good catch and a great guy. We are just not meant for each other. He was a very nice person.
He has tried to move on since our breakup. We have both casually dated other people. I don’t mind it; I want him to be happy. But when he is with someone else, I make sure that I don’t talk to him (so I don’t interfere). That will sometimes make me sad.
– Daniella B.*, 20
“I broke up with him. He was controlling. He didn’t like me talking to my guy friends.”
– Sidney M.*, 20
“We were together for almost three years, a year of which was long-distance. I still care for him. But we weren’t meant for each other, even though he was ready to pop the question. We are currently not talking, even though I would love to be friends again one day.”
– Delany S.*, 19
“I broke up with him. We still talk occasionally, but only as friends. He was a nice person and has moved on since. I’m happy that he found someone that gives him what I couldn’t.”
– Nanette M.*, 19
“We were best friends for three years – he was the one I would run to all the time. For every breakup or relationship problem I had, I ran straight to him. I would flat-out use him for my own selfish emotional pampering. Even my parents hated it. For three years (and I believe even longer), he was the one man in my life who was constantly feeding my addiction to receiving love and affection. Once, when I was alone with my little brother one night, I called him terrified, thinking that the house had been broken into. He was the one that ran right over to help. He checked the house, checked on my brother, and sat with me until I fell asleep.”
– Irene A.*, 19
“He was my best friend. He was a loser. He lied. He had no ambition. He made up stories to make me feel compassionate towards him. I thought he had outgrown it, so we formed a relationship. But at the end of last summer, he suddenly made up another lie. I quietly shut myself out. I never told him why I broke up with him. I made up something to make him feel better. I don’t even know if he believed it. But I tried to end that three year roller-coaster, because I was sick of the lies and his lack of ambition. What made it worse was that no matter how many times I promised myself to him and said I would be his, only to later betray him, he still never fully left me. I betrayed him so many times. To this day, if I came to his door crying, he would give me a hug and sit with me until the hurt went away. He is that guy. I am now with a boyfriend of over a year who I am madly in love with, but my ex will always be the first person I truly loved. I spoke to him the after I had a terrible day recently, and he comforted me as always. It’s just how it is.”
– Kay B.*, 18
“For the last six months of our relationship, things were not good. Being in a long-distance relationship probably made it worse. During the last month of our relationship, we had the ‘we should break up’ talk on a weekly basis (sometimes more than that). His biggest criticism of me was that I didn’t do enough of the ‘little things.’ I was constantly busy with school and research, whereas he was at home playing video games all day. So he had more time to think about the little things than I ever did. When we finally saw each other again, we had talked about ending it one too many times. I couldn’t take it any more, so I broke up with him. I knew that the relationship was over when the thought of him cheating on me did not even phase me. He is a good person. I am just growing and moving forward in my life, whereas he is not. That caused a lot of issues. I am a person with a lot of drive and motivation, and he is not. I did not see that quality in him at first. I probably would have changed a lot if I had. We haven’t been in contact since the break up, which is probably best for him right now. I can only wish him the best in life. I do not hold anything against him; we are just two very different people, who were not right for each other. I do not know if he feels the same way. But I hope that someday, he’ll realize it too, and won’t be mad at me anymore.”
– Chelsea D., 21
“I dated my ex for a really dumb reason. I never had an inkling of attraction to him before, but I was determined to make it work. We dated during my junior year of high school. Before we officially agreed to start dating, I told him ‘we have to break up on the last day of high school.’ We both agreed to do so. But as the relationship progressed, he kept asking that we extend it halfway through the summer (and later, for all of summer), to which I firmly said no. When the last day came, I kept my word, and so did he. We were over. When college started, he asked if we could keep our relationship going. I declined. I knew he was heartbroken and didn’t want to break up during that last day of high school. But it was something I had to do. My ex was perceived as being a really nice and somewhat goofy kid all throughout high school. He danced and was the class clown, so people knew him and liked him for that reason. He was very attached to me, a bit too jealous, and was unreasonable when it came to demanding my time. In addition to this, I was one of the very few people who knew he suffered from depression. So he spoke to me the most about it. I thought this was a positive thing, but it turns out I wasn’t willing to take on that obstacle. I was his first girlfriend. He could be a bit awkward, but he was always kind to me otherwise. He isn’t seeing anyone currently, that I know of. We don’t reach out to one another anymore. I did so once, and it was only to ask a question that only he could answer. If he were to be seeing someone, I would feel great. It’s hard to look back and remember how I used to feel about him, so I have no attachments whatsoever. I just feel a deep sense of guilt, because I put him through a heart break that could have been avoided, if I just opted not to pursue him. I hope that he finds someone who really does love him – someone who will make him forget all about what I might have put him through.”
– Annie H.*, 19
“After two and a half years of dating, my ex and I were at that point in our relationship where we needed to either get engaged or break up. We were attached at the hip and absolute best friends, so I couldn’t imagine breaking up with him. After many serious conversations about getting married, he proposed to me. I said, ‘yes.’ He did everything perfectly: a gorgeous blue diamond ring, a beach at sunset, a celebration dinner at my favorite restaurant afterwards. It wasn’t until about six months into the engagement that I realized that while I loved my fiance, I wasn’t in love with him. And I never would be. I adored him, but I didn’t feel any passion towards him. I knew that he would be so much happier with someone who could love him back, so I broke off our engagement. I felt awful – I still do (almost seven years later) – because the engagement had initially been my idea. I really, truly cared about my ex, because he’s genuinely an amazing, brilliant, caring person. He just wasn’t the person for me. I hate that we let our relationship go as far as it did before I realized that we weren’t the ones for each other. We’ve both moved on, and we’re both married (to other people, obviously). We now live on opposite coasts, which is probably a good thing. I’m pretty sure he still hates what I did to him, and I can’t blame him.”
– Natasha V.*, 29