I’m torn between wanting to tell my ex about why I dumped him. I think it would help me have a sense of peace or something… but should I?
This is one of the most interesting and common questions I’ve been asked. And, like many questions, the answer is pretty simple and straightforward, although it depends on the circumstances and your motive.
In general, I advise you to have as little contact with your ex as possible. By “as little as possible” I mean none at all. Once you’ve dumped him, the deal is done and you should leave him alone to get on with his life. Because you dumped him, you’re in a position of power over him and it is really easy to use that power. You can hurt him quite a bit, do a lot of damage, even if you don’t mean to. Even by trying to help him out you can end up hurting him badly. You can also hurt yourself.
The fastest way for your ex to heal from the breakup (and for you to heal, too) is for you to leave each other completely alone. Unless you intend to someday get back together – a pretty ridiculous idea if you dumped him – then you don’t need to communicate at all, except perhaps for a few housekeeping type details. [RELATED: How to Stop Obsessing Over Your Ex]
My question to you, Ashley, is why do you want to tell your ex the truth about why you dumped him? If you can answer that question honestly, you will be able to figure out what the right thing to do is.
But it’s very difficult to answer such a question honestly. As fallible, flawed human beings, we are all of us liable to lie to ourselves about our motives.
Here are some possible reasons you might want to tell your ex the truth about why you dumped him:
1) You want to hurt him. You’re angry that he was such a jerk, such an awful partner, that he cheated on you, ignored you, whatever it was. Now you want to inflict some pain in return because he deserves it and you think it will make you feel better.
Bad idea. Revenge is not a worthy motive. Trust me. It’s as bad or worse for you than it is for him. Don’t let yourself start down the road to becoming a vindictive, petty, nasty person. Forget him and focus on the future. Take the high road.
2) You want him to change. You dumped him because of some serious character flaw and now you think if you tell him the truth, that might make him change and become a better person. This is just reason No. 1 dressed up and disguised in “good intentions.” Look up the old saying about the road to hell.
Bad idea. First of all, it isn’t your job to fix his life. It’s his job. Now that you’ve broken up, he can figure that out (or not) on his own without your help. What makes you think that if you couldn’t change him while you were together that you will suddenly, miraculously, be able to change him now? Allow him the dignity of solving his own problems and fixing up his own life. Remember the power dynamic I mentioned earlier. Even with the best of intentions if you start telling him about his flaws that he should fix or his behavior should change, you’re going to come across as arrogant and preachy.
I suggest taking a look at your own life and focusing your energy on any character flaws in yourself that need attention. You’ll want to work on making yourself a happier, healthier, more cheerful, agreeable and interesting person to get ready for your next relationship.
3) He asked you and you don’t want to lie to him. You are an honest person and you feel bad keeping the truth from him. This seems like a good reason at first – after all, he asked, so doesn’t he deserve to hear it?
If you want to be an honest person, then really be honest. Tell him the truth: Now that we’ve broken up, I’d really like to get on with my life, and I think the best thing for me, to help me do that, is for us to not have any contact with each other.
Remember, after you break up with somebody, it’s best to move forward, not backward. There are few valid reasons to rehash a relationship that has ended.
If you have serious psychological reasons for needing to analyze your relationship and your ex, it’s better to talk through things with a professional therapist. On rare occasions, a therapist may see a valid reason for you wanting to contact your ex. The therapist will help you figure out a safe way to do it, both for you and for your ex.
Otherwise, it’s best to keep your mouth shut and politely get on with your life. Your ex will soon get the message and do the same.