Hi Dr. Aesha,
So I’m wondering your thoughts on restarting conversations with guys I used to date. With one guy, we dated for a few months and then he left suddenly to go overseas to take care of his sick mother. This was about 5 yrs ago. Now he’s coming back to the States and wants to reconnect.
I’m open to it because things ended on good terms and we’ve had some contact over the last few years. But do I engage in conversations now, while he’s still away?
Then there’s another guy who I went out with a few times maybe a year ago. He ghosted me and just contacted me on a dating app that I just downloaded. Do I respond? If so, what do I say?
First of all, there’s a huge difference between someone who is an ex-boyfriend vs someone who ghosted you after a few dates. Not only is the depth of the connection different when you’ve spent more time with someone, but also the pain you feel when a person doesn’t give you any closure by disappearing is different than a real breakup.
Ghosters leave you with unanswered questions: Was it something I said? Did he not like me? Was he lying to me the entire time?
Someone who ghosts you lacks accountability and integrity. So when they return, acting like nothing ever happened, it can be bewildering. Your past disappointment turns into hope, but it’s fleeting: What does he want? Does he want to try again? Does he still have feelings for me? Or is he just looking for me to forgive him for ghosting me?
You may have these same questions about someone you dated seriously who suddenly reappears in your life without acknowledging what their intentions are. Do you give him another chance? Should you respond to their text messages? What if you miss out on rekindling a romance? Or what if you’re setting yourself up for failure again?
Let me give you some guiding principles to help you make your decision:
- Be realistic. Don’t give in to fantasies about what “could be.” Both the ghoster and the ex-boyfriend need to prove themselves before you get your hopes up. Let them take the lead and watch for consistency. If you find their interest level goes from hot to lukewarm, you shouldn’t invest too much time and energy into exploring this relationship.
- Ask him why he broke up and what he wants now: Just because these guys showed up on your digital doorstep acting like nothing happen, doesn’t mean you should let them in your life without having a conversation about the past. If he dodges the question or gives you a “fluff” answer, you should proceed with caution.
- Go slowly: Don’t put your heart out there too quickly. Keep dating other people so that you won’t put your life on hold for someone who hasn’t been reliable in the past. These men have to do a lot to impress you and win your heart this time around.
It all boils down to how he treats you. Just because you have a history together doesn’t mean you should have a future with him.
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