What to Do When Your Ex Comes Back Into Your Life and How to Respect your Boundaries

What to Do When Your Ex Comes Back Into Your Life and How to Respect your Boundaries

Relationships

Tamika Lewis November 6, 2021

It’s a calm evening. You’re doing your skincare routine when a phone notification pops up. You think it’s nothing, but then you see the screen showing a message from your ex. Don’t panic. Let’s work it out and see what to do when your ex comes back into your life.

It’s Hard to Know What to Do When Your Ex Comes Back Into Your Life

In this situation, a person you had a relationship with may have different motivations for coming back. It’s definitely a jaw-dropping moment, and many questions could be flying through your mind. It’s not enough you’re going through work stress as it is, but now this, too?

There’s no actual set of rules on what to do when an ex comes back into your life, but the impact of social media on today’s society could make us believe there are only one or two possible ways to react. The truth is, however it makes you feel, it’s normal. No one is the same. Nobody copes with similar problems in the same way, and it doesn’t make you less normal if your first reaction isn’t to block them from ever contacting you again.

Is Your Ex Attempting Contact After You’ve Set Boundaries?

What is important when people try to come back is if you are a person with boundaries. Assertive people know how to set them without seeming aggressive, demanding, or selfish. Those who have a difficult time establishing boundaries tend to either build up walls or be people-pleasers.

If you have established your limits and rules to a person from a former relationship, and they’re ignoring them, it’s up to you how you continue viewing someone like that. If they do it disrespectfully and aggressively, it’s in your full right to ignore their message and move on. If you are willing to reply, you know it won’t take more than a text message back to explain why there’s no need to see or hear from them.

Establishing healthy boundaries is one of the radical self-care ideas for women because many of us don’t know what it means to place self-love over people-pleasing. It’s good to journal, take walks, meditate and exercise, but changing your mindset (potentially with the help of a counselor for women) would often be the best course of action.

black therapist writing
An African-American therapist could help you understand how boundaries are set and followed

If You Haven’t Set Boundaries, Consider How This Will Reflect On You

When your ex comes back into your life, and you haven’t established rules on how to react, don’t worry. That doesn’t mean you’re terrible or weak, just not fully aware of how certain things might impact you. We’re painfully aware of the issues of black women and depression in the country. That depression is the root of many other problems, and the most painful one is low self-esteem. Because of that, an ex reaching out may not just be a thing that happens – it could be the thing that drags you further down into self-doubt.

Do You Want Them to Come Back and Why?

When it comes to someone from a former relationship, the real question is – do you want them to come back to you, and if you do, why? Sometimes we mistake red flags in relationships for love or caring. Having to deal with the stress of realizing everything we once loved about a person was hurtful behavior is excruciating.

If you remember hurtful behavior when you think back on the relationship, it’s likely a red flag for you. Some general warning signs that coming back to an ex-partner is a bad idea are:

  • They didn’t want the same as you (exclusivity, kids, whatever it may be,)
  • You broke up over differences in lifestyles,
  • You tend to remember the times you felt bad more than the others,
  • They broke your trust,
  • You’re lonely and miss them.

These warning signs are different for everyone. Some small acts aren’t as much of an issue for some as they are for others. However, if you wish for an exclusive relationship that’s going to end in marriage and having children, pursuing it with someone who isn’t sure they want that (or openly shows that they don’t) is never a good idea.

black girl before therapy
Don't beat yourself up if you want someone back because you're lonely. Work on making the difference between how you feel and how they made you feel.

Don’t Rush Your Response and Ensure It’s Honest Once You Eventually Decide to Reply

The essential things in this situation are time and patience. It would be best to call a confidant (maybe a friend or your therapist of color) and tell them all about what happened. Before getting the urge to hit block, delete, or respond, give yourself time to think things through.

It could be challenging to go to sleep later because you might be thinking about how you need to take care of this issue. However, people often advise to “sleep on it,” and this situation is best to sleep on, for sure.

What Does It Mean to Be Honest With Your Ex-Partner?

So, what do you say to an ex that comes back into your life, and how do you stay honest about it? If a day or two have passed, and you feel you’ve made the right choice, how could you start? It’s simple – start honestly. It’s not our business to tell you how to talk to those you have relationships with, but what we can say is to keep it light.

Everything that laid heavily on your heart was likely already said during the breakup. For your sake, there’s no need to relive those heavy emotions. Be direct about your wishes, tell them how you want the conversation to go further, and conclude. After having a challenging conversation with an ex-partner, one of our self-care tips is to distance yourself from social media and do things you enjoy the most.

black woman needs therapist
You'll be wondering if you did the right thing, but tough decisions are always hard to make

You Decide If This Is One of the Signs or One of the Tests of Living

Getting hurt is awful. But when an ex comes back into your life to apologize, it could be good to let them do so. While closure and its concept aren’t always what brings us peace after a breakup, receiving an apology from someone who’s caused you pain would be a definitive pathway to healing. It may be a sign that you should emotionally release from the pain of heartbreak.

If the ex-partner in question got their heart broken by you, it’s normal to feel bad. Getting over breaking someone’s heart is equally difficult as getting over being heartbroken. The guilt of not feeling the love back for someone can be a cause of nightmares at first. However, if an ex whose heart you’ve broken contacts you, telling them assuring words and apologizing could mean the world to them even now. Make these situations the ways you learn how to communicate with respect and integrity.

Are There Other People Involved Who Could Get Hurt by This?

When an ex comes back while you’re with someone new, those two relationships could get intertwined. It’s vital to consider how talking to an ex would impact your new partner’s feelings and whether it’s okay to hide the fact from them. Remember that honesty is the best policy, but it’s best to be honest with yourself in this case.

It all depends on how everything before ended and if it’s worth risking the thing you have now for something that’s long gone. This could be considered a rite of passage; learning what you want and how you want it is a big part of life. You can choose a therapist and talk about it with her if you find this whole thing overwhelming.

couple after therapy
If you're with a new partner when an ex reaches out, consider how the one you're with right now might feel

An Ex May Want to Come Back, But That’s a Hurdle You Can Overcome Through Therapy, Too

When you make your first therapy appointment, it should be because you want to learn how to unravel the strong and beautiful parts of who you are. There are many reasons why ex-partners decide to come back; you don’t have to understand any of them. What matters is that you find out how therapy works for you when a challenging situation occurs. This can be solved if you employ self-care and give yourself time to work through it.

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