Thanking Your Ex after a Bad Breakup?

“Can I ask you a question?” a longtime reader and now friend in her 30s inquired via Gchat.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Well, you know that my long-time boyfriend and I broke up in March,” she said. “When we ended things, it was because he had cheated on me. I’m not sure if he’s still with the girl or not, but I wondered if I should reach out to him.”

“Are you looking to get back together with him?” I asked.

“No…well, not exactly…I don't know,” she admitted. “A friend who does relationship counseling suggested that I write him a letter because I'm getting ready to move on. [A guy she had recently met had asked her out on a date for the following week.]”

“Will you be sending this letter?” I questioned, as she responded affirmatively. “What would the purpose of that be?”

“My friend said that it takes men several months to process pain and that a letter from me could trigger something within him.”

“I haven't heard that about men and pain before. [And, I couldn't find any verification of that online.] What would you say in the letter?”

“I would thank him for the time that we had so he knows that I don’t hold any grudges against him. And, I would let him know that I’m moving on so that he knows he has to stop me before it’s too late.”

“Do you need a letter for that, though? If you’re moving on, then you wouldn’t be reaching out to him. Hey, I’ve done similar things before so I won't judge you if you send it. But, I feel like guys aren’t that cryptic. If a guy wants to be with a girl, his actions make that very clear. If he’s with someone else and treated you badly, why would you even want to be with him?”

“Well, I don’t know if he’s with that other girl anymore. And, when we ended things, I told him I was done so what if he thinks he can’t reach out?”

“You were together for years. I think he knows he can contact you.”

We chatted online about this over the course of several nights. She has already written the letter, and it seems like she really wants to send it this month.

“Have you run through all the possible scenarios in your mind of what he might do once he receives it? What if you don’t hear back from him at all? What if he and the other girl have gotten very serious? What if he responds something brief without any interest in further communication?”

“I think I'd feel worse if I didn't try. He already hurt me when we broke up so I don't think he can say anything to hurt me more. And, what if I am able to trigger something in him like my friend said?”

My friend’s thoughts reminded me of one of my Mom’s pieces of advice:

Closure is a female notion, when in reality, there’s no such thing. Unless there are children or assets in common, when a relationship is over, it just is.

I didn't always take my Mom's advice, but I believe it's true. Anytime I reached out to an ex for "closure," it was because a small part of me wanted to get back together.

What would you tell this friend?

Have you sent a letter or reached out to an ex for closure? How did the situation turn out? 

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