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Can I reach out to my ex?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 6, 2011 08:25 AM

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Q: Hello,

First time writer, long time reader! A few years ago I was in a relationship with a young man. This relationship was anything but healthy and rewarding. It was tumultuous, depressing, and isolating at times. The chaos was caused by both of us. We were both immature and wanted attention in any fashion. I turned into a person I didn't recognize and it was just bad all over. Eventually we lost contact and continued down separate paths. I was informed that he moved out of state and fell off the map.

Several days ago a friend told me that he is back in town. I am very happily married and living a very fulfilling life. From what I hear he is, too. I am very happy for him but am compelled to tell him this. I have been debating whether or not to contact him just to see how he has been and to let him know that I am happy for him. I am happy that he is no longer in that dark place. Do I contact him to say congratulations on all the good things we should be grateful for? Or do I leave it alone and pretend like he doesn't exist?

– Just want to say hi!, Mass.


A: Leave it alone, JWTSH. If you see him at the corner store, give him a warm smile and wave hello. If he stops to talk to you, be kind and congratulate him. But don't seek it out. If you've heard that he's happy, he's probably heard the same about you. Assume that good vibes are being sent from all directions.

I'm all for disclosure and hashing things out, but in this case, nothing would come of it. What happens after you say nice things to each other? What's the goal?

Also, what if he's not happy? What if the rumors aren't true? What if you reach out to him and he's a major jerk? It's not worth the risk.

I understand that you want to fix things and that you feel awful about how you behaved, but you don't have to make it all better with a cinematic closure conversation. All you can do is say nice things whenever a friend tells you that he's doing well. At some point, those positive remarks will get back to him. That's good enough.

Readers? Is she allowed to reach out? Am I right about it not being a good idea? Is it ever rewarding to reach out to an ex? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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