Exes Who Get Back in Touch for 'Closure' Are Bad for Your Marriage

At some point in your late 20s or 30s, you’ll be skeedaddling along, enjoying life, and finally feeling satisfied in your marriage or relationship. Inevitably, some guy from your past will choose that exact moment in time to decide he needs to soul-search because things, perhaps, didn’t turn out quite the way he had planned. In his quest to find himself, he’ll contact you. He'll remind you that you were once such good friends. You’ll reluctantly, politely, agree to write back because you're a nice person.

And, just like that, you've been sucked into his sad vortex of doom and despair -- one that will threaten to blast your current, wonderful relationship to smithereens. Three words: Don't go there.

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Things will start off slowly -- innocently. He'll "like" photos of you on Facebook and pay special attention to the ones you took with your children (Hidden meaning: "Gee, wouldn't I have been a great dad?").

He'll send you a personal message that contains what you assume is a harmless question: "Didn't we visit the Central Park Zoo that one time? And you told me you were afraid of monkeys. Are you still afraid of monkeys?"

Here's what he's really trying to say: "Crap, I can't maintain any semblance of a relationship and I'm 35. Is it because I never listened to you back then? Is it because I didn't treat you well? Are you the one who got away and, if so, can you convince me that it was all your fault? Pretty, pretty, please, just tell me you were intimidated by me and you didn't feel good enough for me and I promise it will satisfy my ego and make me go away!"

And then you'll schedule a coffee date. It's always a coffee date. At which point, you're skating on seriously thin ice with your husband or whatever other great guy in your life now.

In my last relationship -- the long one I had before I got married -- Year 5 was the killer: the year in which I found myself feeling bitter about our lack of true commitment. I began to get restless when I realized we weren't going anywhere meaningful but we had created too many ties to make a clean, uncomplicated break.

Like an aggressive little bacterium, nostalgia realized that was the ideal time to infiltrate my vulnerable head and corrode any chance we had at working things out by reminding me of exes who were the polar opposite of the person I was with. People who really got me. Or so I stupidly thought for about a nanosecond.

Funny, sometimes, how things work out because that was also the point in which a fellow soul-searcher -- a nice enough ex -- asked me out for coffee. That coffee date, one in which the ex and I spent laughing and talking about only the truly fun times we had, was the nail in the already-partially-closed coffin of my relationship with my boyfriend.

When love hits a snag, it's far too easy to take a stroll down that false, flower-strewn path in which you romanticize your past relationships and focus only the special moments you had with that person. It's far too easy to look at your current love, who is a grown-up with too much integrity to chase you down the street while it's raining after YOU do something wrong, and wistfully think about that one guy who did go to those lengths for you. (Granted, you were both 20 and drunk, BUT STILL.)

Here are some of the things you tend to forget with time. Your ex never got your jokes. He hated giving oral sex. He flirted with other girls and looked at you out of the corner of his eye to see if you were noticing. He only ate potatoes and hamburgers. Every. Single. Meal.

It's tempting to connect with a soul-searcher. But it's the kiss of death. It opens you up to remembering only the good times, which is essentially a way of lying to yourself.

I've been married for eight wonderful, complicated, blissful, challenging, downright difficult, and rewarding years. In our time together, one of those exes tried to make contact. I politely responded: "Nice to hear from you. Hope you're well." And I honestly do hope he's well because he's a lovely person. But there's no need for coffee or trips down memory lane.

You can be friends with exes where there's already that closure. But the ones who are on a mission to dissect their past often need more than you should be willing to give when you're committed to someone else. Even if it means you don't get to satisfy your own curiosity, catch up with a man you once cared deeply about, and get treated to a nice, warm latte.

Has a soul-searching ex ever contacted you because he wanted to reconnect?

 

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