Extalgia, Exnertia, Preevies, Frexes
I am on pretty friendly terms with all my exes, except one. We ended on bad terms, and I was admittedly the asshole by having doubts about our relationship but waiting to break it off until he had made some very major sacrifices (moving across country, quitting a great job) for me. To top it off, I met someone else and got engaged within a year of our breakup, at which point he stopped all contact with me. And I totally get it.
The thing is, I am traveling to the city where this ex now lives and am starting to have nightmares of unexpectedly bumping into him on the metro. I would really like to mend fences and at least be civil with this person… not just for this upcoming trip, but because we have mutual friends, and our families live close to each other back home. It has been six years since we broke up. I have been happily married now for four years, and I have heard that he has moved on with his life and is doing well. But I still am not sure if that is enough time and distance, because he holds grudges for a very long time when burned by love. When we dated after graduating from college, he was still sore about a girl who dumped him before the prom in 11th grade!
Should I write to him to warn him of my upcoming trip? Try to mend fences with him, or even meet up while I am there? Or, should I wear dark sunglasses and a wig while visiting the city where he now lives and just keep out of his life?
I suggest a careful assessment of why you want to contact this XBF and close consideration of what a communiqué from you would mean for him. If you haven’t seen him in six years, despite your families and mutual friends, there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason to initiate contact now. Are you possibly feeling guilty for what happened and looking for absolution from him? Because it sounds like you were pretty careless with him, and while you don’t need to beat yourself up over it you do need to be careful not to do any more damage.
You have no idea how he feels about you now. Would an email or text from you likely be welcome? Or would it just shake him up and remind him of an unhappy time? Would you want to hear from someone who broke up with you after you upended your life? If you decide that it’s truly important for the two of you to be on friendly terms, wait until after your trip to reach out to him. Then send an email saying that you recently visited his city, it made you think of him and you wanted to say hello. This takes the pressure off him to respond immediately and/or suggest getting together, when that may be the last thing he wants. It also gives him the option of ignoring you if he so chooses. Since he walked away from your relationship more hurt than you, the onus is on you to be sensitive to his feelings, now.
I don’t think you have to fear running into him. Unless you have some reason to think you’re going to see him—you’re visiting mutual friends, you know where he lives and know you’ll be in the neighborhood—it seems pretty unlikely that you’ll run into him unexpectedly. Cities big enough to have metros are usually big enough to prevent chance meetings.
If it does happen, though, just be friendly and polite. Say hello; tell him why you’re in town and that you thought about reaching out to him before you came but weren’t sure if you should. His reaction will let you know what to do from there.
Rhonda, you seem interested in lifestyle-type questions and issues, so I have one problem that defies my best efforts. I chronically stay up too late, which means I wake up tired and kind of grouchy and hate getting out of bed. Every day I swear that I will go to bed earlier, but it never happens. Sometimes it’s because I’m out doing something, but a lot of times I’m just watching TV or doing stuff around my apartment, and then all of a sudden it’s 1 a.m. I seriously don’t know how it happens. Do you have any tips for actually going to bed earlier?
I have a friend who used to say it was so hard to tear himself out of bed in the morning that he was always surprised there wasn’t blood on the sheets when he finally got up. I know what he was describing, and I hate the feeling of waking up tired, so I’m pretty committed to getting enough sleep. My best suggestion, which isn’t an original idea, is to set an alarm to remind you to go to bed. Decide what time you want to go to bed and set the alarm for one hour earlier. When it goes off, that’s your cue to finish or put away whatever you’re doing, brush your teeth, do all that pre-bed stuff, and get into bed. You don’t have to go to sleep immediately, but get in bed with your pajamas on. You can read or… just read, pretty much. Watching TV or being online won’t help you relax or sleep. They’re also dangerous, because it’s easy to find yourself doing them until 1 a.m. without realizing it.
Another thing that can help you go to bed is being comfortable with the idea of putting things off until tomorrow. Not everything, just the things that you might start or remember at 10 o’clock at night. Write those things down and leave the list out so you don’t have to worry about forgetting them. Writing them down will give you peace of mind.
Another Word for an Ex Turned Friend
When you have an awkward faux friendship with a former lover, that person is your frex. Sometimes you try to be friends, but it just won’t work. Eventually, you give up the attempt and he or she becomes an exfrex.
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