Just when you thought you’d never hear from them again, from out of the blue comes a sliver of contact. Despite yourself, old habits surge from their ashes. The jitters, over-analysis and a tendency towards skepticism, all come thundering back into focus. What on earth do they want this time?
Texts are above all else an impersonal and low effort medium of communication. Let’s be real here, lacking the often in-depth detail of an Email, without revealing anything of his body language, texting is a great way to feel out an ex’s reaction without risking painful blowback.
Before delving into greater detail, it is almost always the case that a text from an ex is a way of gauging your feelings towards them. Usually, this kind of bait is thrown at you so that they know how and if to continue contact.
This is nearly always true if his attempt to reach out wasn’t particularly focused. An ex-boyfriend that genuinely needs something will be direct to avoid misunderstanding. Conversely, an ex that acts like they were just casually “passing by” are likely to be playing a game of emotional smoke and mirrors.
Given the fact that you found your way to this article, chances are the contact was confusingly bare. Which means we have to dig a little deeper, don’t we?
Somebody You Used To Know
At some point you were a comfort zone to him. Sharing an intimate bound, no matter how the relationship panned out, means that at some level there was an aspect of the connection he misses. Your knowing each other as well as you do/did means that he may be lamenting aspects of the past. Maybe it was the way you listened. Maybe it was your morning jog together, or maybe it was the sex. There’s always something we wish we could take with us.
This doesn’t have to mean they intend to reconcile; it might just mean that they want to fill an empty moment with the warmth of the past. Breakups mean breaking up, in a literal sense. Even if parting ways was objectively beneficial, he still had the majority of his routine and reference points stripped away. And a part of his brain may be pushing for a part of that old comfort-zone back.
If their needs are specific, they will also subtly push in the direction of what it is they need. For instance:
- If they want a self-esteem upper – They will be content with hands off communication. Don’t expect an ex who is trying to fix a temporary and selfish issue to escalate contact or the intensity of the communication. Experiencing hot and cold behavior? This might be your ticket.
- If they want sex – They will push to meet, and conversations will tend to revolve around the physical (compliments galore).
- If they want to reconcile – Conversations will revolve around the past and the feelings it evokes. An ex looking to reconcile will also attempt to negotiate in a telltale way. If he is willing to make sacrifices out of the blue, often unprompted, he’s attempting to unite you.
- If they have no idea what they want – Their confused message will reflect their confused state of mind. This is the most common of all forms of post-breakup communication. A mix of different intentions, all pulling in different directions. This is why there is usually no single answer that satisfies because there is no single, unified question being asked.
If you want to know what to expect of your ex-boyfriend, look at what direction he is pulling you in.
Is he pushing for more personal forms of communication (from text to phone, or text to chat), or is he just content with a chit-chat?
Knowing how much effort he is willing to put into his messaging might not tell you exactly what his cards are, but they will tell you how serious he is about communicating with you. If he has serious and specific intentions, he will not be content with just a casual chit-chat (though he may act like it at first in order to break the ice — but not for long).
If you refuse to take the bait, sooner or later he will be forced to get the answers he needs — directly. And you will have your answer.
Don’t Eat The Crumbs
If he truly wants something, he won’t let go until he has his answer. Because he may continue to have something to lose, this might mean resorting to manipulative practices to get the answer out of you without appearing to ask the question.
The thing is though, if you refuse to play you are forcing his hand. Taking the bait is a win-win scenario for you, because even if he does back off and refuse to elaborate it means you can continue moving on without his confusion muddling the waters of your life.
- If he backs off and fades away you know how little there was at stake for him to begin with.
- If he chooses to up the ante, you now have a clearer picture of what this is all about.
Not taking the bait is not a form of manipulation. The relationship is over, and so are your obligations towards him. Do not feel guilty about safeguarding your clarity of mind. I don’t recommend just ignoring him, but by “not taking the bait” I mean not feeding him your feelings. If he wants to have a nice chat, and you enjoy talking to him, be my guest. Be if he wants to know something specific, let him ask openly and honestly. If he can’t muster the courage to do that much you know how little he had invested to begin with!