I broke up with my girlfriend about six months ago, and I recently got an email from her documenting her upset feelings after seeing me in passing since we had our last conversation. It seemed impulsive on her part and I just haven’t responded. I don’t have anything to say at this point beyond, please get the support you need from someone that isn’t me, but maybe that’s too harsh. I feel like she is asking me to read her mind as to what she wants from me, which just doesn’t feel fair. I’m not interested in reconnecting or rehashing anything, but I don’t want to be mean or inconsiderate.
How can I be a good, gentle person to my ex, without relinquishing important boundaries?
– A “bad ex”
There is nothing in your letter that indicates to me that you are a bad ex. The key to being a good ex is really quite simple: Respect your ex’s boundaries but also respect your own.
It indeed sounds like the email from your ex was very impulsive. This happens a lot in the early stages of a breakup. People act almost feral. Heartbreak does a number on us, and sometimes it leads to… bad behavior. Your ex’s email was not really beneficial for anyone involved: I sincerely doubt she got any semblance of closure from sending it. Seeing you understandably triggered some specific feelings for her, but that doesn’t mean she should have acted on those feelings in the way that she did.
It is NOT too harsh to tell her that she needs to seek support from someone who is not you. It has been six months! And sure, getting over a breakup is not always a quick or linear process, but that’s quite a while for her to still be seeking some sort of validation from you. At this point, you shouldn’t even be expected to be in communication with her at all if that’s not what you want. Because like I said: It’s important to honor your own boundaries in all of this! If you have nothing to say, you have nothing to say. If you’re not interested in reconnecting, then zero contact is fair! It’s not mean or inconsiderate (unless there are details left out of your letter like needing to still divvy up shared belongings or basic logistics like that, but I assume since you’re six months out and haven’t mentioned any of that that it’s not applicable in your situation).
Rehashing a relationship in the wake of a breakup doesn’t really help anyone involved, and your ex might not understand that, but hopefully she will soon, especially if she starts leaning on people to process the breakup who are NOT you. I don’t think it’s always as simple as “you don’t owe this person anything,” but you really…don’t owe your ex anything. The breakup happened a while ago. The time for any kind of processing together has long passed.
I understand that you want to be “gentle” and “good” to your ex, but that does not mean you need to hold her hand through all this or relive the past. You were clear in setting a boundary by breaking up with her. You cannot be expected to read her mind or even let her in on all of YOUR thoughts. If anything, your ex is the one who is feeding into a bad dynamic by reaching out in an impulsive and counterproductive way.
It sounds like you’re not interested in being friends with your ex, so I just want to add that THAT IS PERFECTLY FINE. It’s nice when exes can be friends, but it’s not something anyone should force themselves to do. No one should feel bad for not wanting to be friends with an ex despite what some cliches about queer breakups say. You don’t have to have any relationship at all with your ex, and I assure you that does not make you a bad ex at all. Relationships change. Relationships end. It’s not inconsiderate to move forward.