German relationship coach Emanuel Albert, known as Date Doctor Emanuel, explains when and how you should text your ex.
Tom had been so good! Two months without a word from his ex and he had stayed strong, remained silent. It had been an ugly breakup. During our first coaching session we talked about how he would only regain her respect, and most importantly her love, if he took some time to heal his own wounds first. Only by allowing time to pass, would she be able to start missing him.
Now finally, just over two months after their breakup, he got a text from her:
“Hey, how are you doing? Just curious how you have been and wanted to touch bases.”
Tom was thrilled! After all, she was thinking about him and wondering how he was doing. He immediately typed out a wordy and lengthy response, filling her in on every little detail that had happened over the last few weeks. Then he paused. Thumb hovering over the ‘send’ button, he changed his mind and called me: “Emanuel, she finally wrote me… what should I do now?”.
He had almost wasted weeks of hard work and messed up his first big chance to text his ex girlfriend. Luckily I was there to stop him. Don’t be a Tom! My advice can help you find the right approach to texting your ex and increase your chances of winning them back.
Whether or not you should text your ex depends on timing. It makes a difference where you both stand on the timeline of your breakup. So, how much time has passed since you broke up?
Did your boyfriend break up with you yesterday? Then I am going to go out on a whim and say: Don’t text him! Even though your best friend may have won over her ex by begging and pleading all through the night. This is only ever a quick fix. Your ex had reasons for breaking up and there is no way either of you have started fully grasping these one day later.
Tip: You are used to texting your ex every day. Part of this routine is also what is making it hard to withstand the urge now. Not only are you heartbroken but you also find yourself picking up your phone out of habit. Try filling this ex-shaped gap with friends and family. They will be relieved that you are reaching out and you can give yourself a much needed social boost.
How did you spend the last month? Many people find that if they are being 100 percent honest, one month often boils down to only about 2 weeks of no contact. Have you been asking common friends about details. Have you been watching all your ex’s social media posts and scrolled through old photos of the two of you? In this case you have more work to do until you can approach your ex as an equal.
If, after the month without any contact, you feel more like yourself again consider reaching out. It is completely OK to be sad about the ending of your relationship but you should not be despairing. Concluding, having been single for a month, only text your ex if you have made considerable personal progress.
In my experience the chances of reuniting with an ex after a year or more has passed are not very good. Perhaps one or both of you has had other sexual partners or rebound relationships in the meantime. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Both you and your ex have changed over the last year. You have made new experiences, met new people, learned new things. Don’t assume that you know everything that has happened to your ex. This clean slate can also be a gift. You don’t have much to lose! A year is a long time, now don’t make the mistake of waiting even longer!
Why did you break up? And how did you act after the breakup? You need to answer both of these questions honestly in order to decide what you can or should write in a text message to your ex.
Why the reasons for the breakup matter:
The following reasons for a breakup call for a text to clear the air:
you lied and kept secrets
you treated your ex with no respect
you took your ex for granted
In these cases you need to apologize for your behavior. Otherwise you will always trip over the same issues again. Your ex needs to see real change, and for that to happen you have to prove that you realize the mistakes you made. There is no need to grovel or make yourself small. The best apology is simple, to the point and specific.
Why your actions after the breakup matter:
Being able to text your ex girlfriend or spam your ex boyfriend with long instant messages is a blessing and a curse. Your broken heart will cling on to this opportunity, savoring this last bit of connection. The problem is that your ex ends up feeling exhausted or even annoyed by all these messages. They broke up with you because they wanted less, not more, of you. If you made this mistake and you can feel them slipping away even more, it is time to hit the breaks! Your next message to your ex should look a little something like this:
“Hey, I just realized that I have been spamming you with texts non-stop. I have been really stressed at work/school/with my family, so please do me a favor and just delete all my messages.”
You need to create a distance before you can get back into texting your ex. So make this the last message you send them for at least three weeks.
So of course there is a difference between breaking the ice by texting your ex after having had zero contact for weeks, and answering his or her message. Being the one who is texting back has a few advantages:
Your ex was curious about you.
You can gage some information about how they are doing from the tone of the text.
You can react appropriately by “mirroring” their message.
Mirroring means adopting someone else’s body language, speech and attitude. In most cases this happens naturally and subconsciously. Close friends and family members wil mirror each other without noticing it. Studies show that people who are open to interacting or simply like each other tend to mirror each other more. So why not use this effect consciously with an ex partner you are trying to win back?
Mirroring can also be applied to texting. In a 2018 study, couples actually indicated being happier in their relationship, when the amount and the quality of texting was perceived to be similar.
Now that you know how powerful mirroring can be in everyday life, consider the following two possible replies to a text from the ex:
Ex: Hey, how are you doing?
You: Hello Max, I am doing okay. Work is really tiring and the last few weeks without you have been difficult for me. I was so happy to get your text and was wondering whether we could meet up someday soon. I have missed you.
Ex: Hey, how are you doing?
You: Hey, good thanks. you?
Example B has so much more going for it! By mirroring your ex, you make sure that you don’t give away too much information. A short response forces your ex to wonder what you have been up to and if you are maybe not as caught up on them as they had previously thought. Mirroring gets you back in charge!
Strategically texting your ex can get you back into contact with your ex. This is of course a very important first step but it won’t get you back into a relationship. My team and I often help our coachees with this next step, as it can be difficult to know when to take a bigger step towards contact and when to back off. Couples who mainly communicate via text are less satisfied with their relationship than those that also call each other and spend lots of time talking face-to-face. Texting may feel safe to you right now. But it should not be your only goal. Texting is a means to an end – getting back your ex.
So it’s their birthday / Christmas / their kid’s graduation…. and you are convinced it would be rude not to text them. Stop! Why do you think you owe your ex something? You are not obliged to do anything. You may want to use this opportunity to text them and that is fine, but please consider a few pointers:
Send the text message one or two days later. A belated “happy birthday”-text doesn’t build up as much pressure and you do not have to compete with all the other messages that your ex has flooding in.
Keep it short. A long message leaves little open for the imagination and makes you seem needy, and that’s not sexy.
Keep it generic. A super personal message reeks of you having mulled the message over until you had the “perfect” words. That is too much effort.
It is impossible to give a one size fits all recommendation when it comes to texting your ex. Mirroring can be a great help to you if you are feeling unsure how to react. But if your ex is not writing you at all, or you feel like you are not getting anywhere, it is time to change your approach. My team and I have years of helping people perfect their writing skills, so don’t hesitate to contact us.
Best of luck,
your Date Doctor Emanuel
Luo, S. (2014). Effects of texting on satisfaction in romantic relationships: The role of attachment. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 145-152. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.01.014
LaFrance, M. (1985). Postural Mirroring and Intergroup Relations. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11(2), 207-217. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167285112008
Ohadi, J., Brown, B., Trub, L., & Rosenthal, L. (2018). I just text to say I love you: Partner similarity in texting and relationship satisfaction. Computers in Human Behavior, 78, 126-132. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.08.048
I have been working as a dating and relationship coach for more than 20 years. Every day my team and I help clients reach more happiness in their relationships. Our vision is to turn relationship problems back into love! To achieve this goal I developed the successful Emanuel Albert Method.