Ask Team Practical: Is It Ok to Contact My Ex For Closure?

How do you set boundaries for exes?


Q:Even as I sit down to write this, I feel like the answer will be a resounding “No,” but I feel like I need a good dose of practical advice anyway!

I’m currently engaged to a wonderful, caring man who I’m totally in love with (lucky me!), who we’ll call Chris. Before Chris and I got together, I only had one other serious relationship—with a guy we’ll call Luke. It was a very on-again-off-again relationship, he sort of broke my heart but we stayed friends. He made a much better friend than he did boyfriend!

Anyway when I started going out with Chris, I was still in touch with, and friends with Luke, which wasn’t a problem until Luke started sending me weird texts whenever he got drunk, about how much he missed me, etc. Chris isn’t at all the jealous type but understandably felt uncomfortable with this, and said he would rather Luke and I weren’t in touch. Luke didn’t take this very well, accused Chris of being insecure, got very upset, and we haven’t spoken since. I felt really bad about it because we have known each other for a long time and it was quite a drastic cutoff.

So my question is should I try to reconnect with Luke, to regain that friendship? We live in different towns and will probably never see each other again, but I feel horrible that I cut it off so suddenly and I still feel quite guilty. Sometimes wish I knew what Luke was up to, or that we could at least be on friendly terms like we used to be.

I should just make it clear that there are absolutely no residual feelings for Luke here, I really do just want to patch up a bad situation and regain his friendship, at least so I know he isn’t out there somewhere hating me.

Hope you can help!


A: Dear Anon,

You know my answer is, “No.”

No, don’t contact him. Nope, no phone calls. Not even an email, miss, I mean it. You know this. But it sounds like your resolve needs bolstering, so let’s talk about WHY.

Luke is not respecting your relationship. Later on, I’m going to tell you about how you may need to establish boundaries with this guy, but you know what? “Don’t get drunk and text mushy stuff to me late at night” is a pretty basic unspoken boundary when you’re engaged. You know how you said Luke is a good friend, just not a good boyfriend? Texting you romantic crap when he’s drunk and you’re with someone (and then getting defensive and accusatory when he’s called out!) is the kind of stupid selfishness that makes for a bad boyfriend and a bad friend.

Being in a committed relationship means making your partner, his security, and his comfort a priority. Not priority above everything else in life, but most certainly priority above other (even former) love interests. If Chris is uncomfortable with whatever is happening between you and Luke, that’s your main concern. Heading into marriage, your goal is to build foundations and establish boundaries that make you both feel secure. Right now? It sounds like the boundary is “don’t talk to Luke.” But who knows! That could change. Maybe you and your partner will be able to set some boundaries that involve contact with your ex. Maybe you don’t spend time with him unless Chris is around, or you set parameters about what times of day it’s okay for him to text you (that late night nonsense is no good).

That terrible, awful feeling that you don’t know where Luke is or how he’s doing or if he hates you and wants you to die? Sucks, but is a part of life. Relationships—romantic or otherwiserarely end neatly and tied in a bow. There will be people out there that lose touch, that end things messily, that maybe even think terrible things about you. Closure (whatever that is), isn’t always possible. Neither is being nice and friendly to everyone. If someone is placing your relationship at risk, boom, out they go. That sinking feeling that you’re missing out on him is in exchange for knowing that you are protecting and solidifying your relationship. There will always be lingering questions about the road not taken, but this particular road that you did take involves placing your soon-to-be-marriage as priority.

Team practical, how do you set boundaries concerning exes and friends to protect your relationship?

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

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