And exes do show up. It's not usually at your parents' house during Sunday family dinner so he can apologize for ruining your life. It's usually accidental and messy. Oh yeah...and online. It'll happen online. We all know it's the worst. And yet...when we're on the other side...it's so tempting...
Well it's his birthday. I should tell him happy birthday. Just because I ended our relationship doesn't mean I want him to have a shitty birthday, right? It's harmless.
Stop that. I'm saying this to you and to me. It's a tough decision, I know. But when do you let go of an ex? I'm not talking about avoiding them, because that's basically impossible. Given geography, mutual friends, and technology, you're probably going to run into an ex somehow. (Particularly technology. At least your mutual friends KNOW you broke up and don't want to see each other. Facebook is like, hey you have 37 mutual friends with this guy--maybe you should friend him! YES FACEBOOK I KNOW HIM. WE BROKE UP. YOU KNOW THAT, TOO. YOU KNOW EVERYTHING. You can keep track of what dresses I'm checking out on ModCloth but you can't remember who I digitally broke up with? I call bullshit.)
Occasionally, an ex of mine will pop up somewhere on the internet I forgot about when I cleaned him out of my life. He recommended a book on Goodreads? He still uses Goodreads? Delete. Oh yeah, we WERE connected on LinkedIn...not anymore. I don't need to see that.
There's no solid rule about contact with exes, and every relationship and subsequent breakup is a special little snowflake, blah blah blah, so you can't exactly go around making up hard and fast rules. So I don't have anything useful to tell you, as usual. But since this issue came up recently for a friend, I thought I'd tackle it just in case.
Here are the few rules I use when it comes to getting in touch with exes.
1. If I did the dumping, I let him come to me. He gets to set the terms of our post-breakup "friendship." Sure, maybe I said let's just be friends, but after that I'm letting him take the lead on it. If and when he's ready to be friendly, he can let me know. (And you're sitting there like, well what if he never calls? Then you really, really broke him and he never calls. Get over it.)
2. If I was dumped, then I cut off contact. No drunk texts, no sad voicemails, no tweets, and for god's sake no poking on Facebook. None. Shut it down. When (if) the time comes that I am no longer still in love with him and can really, honestly be just friends with him, I'll test the waters. (TEST the waters, not dive in headfirst.) You'll notice the emphasis on honesty here. You've got to be genuinely over him in order to forge a new post-relationship friendship. Sorry.
3. If I work with him, in any way, including volunteer stuff or him coming in to my place of work as a patron/customer, then it's polite civility. He's not worth having to chat with my boss about casually calling a customer a dickhead.
Sometimes you can be friends with an ex. And sometimes you really, really can't.