Is It Ever A Good Idea To Text Your Ex On Birthdays And Holidays?

We've all been there before — you go through an amicable breakup, and you're left wondering just how acceptable it is to stay in contact with your ex. Even in the best case where you both decided that you're better off as friends, your loved ones will still try to stop you from picking up the phone. That being said, are there exceptions to the "Don't text your ex" rule? How should birthdays and holidays be handled now that you're no longer together?

In the past, you may have even been the ex who received the text — that is to say, while you were sipping on eggnog, you received a message out of the blue from a person you once dated. As it turns out, this isn't all that uncommon, according to research carried out by the dating site eHarmony. After surveying 4,000 British adults, researchers discovered that 11% of singles had received a text from an ex during the holidays, per Mashable. Furthermore, 8% admitted that they were the ones to reach out to an ex — but what prompts this action?

As it turns out, many people often try to reconnect during the holidays out of loneliness and stress. That being said, is it really acceptable to do so? Is there any harm in reaching out to an ex? Here is how you can handle those dicey times of the year when boundaries become blurred.

Take a moment to assess the situation before hitting send

If you find yourself reaching for your phone to reconnect with an old flame, it might be best to take a few minutes to think it over — especially during the holidays, a birthday, or another special time of year. For example, the American Psychological Association notes that 38% of people claim their stress levels increase — rather than decrease — during the holidays. Before you send that text message, consider whether your ex is in a position to handle the opportunity to reconnect in a healthy way. "Though some people are happy to reconnect with an ex over Christmas, it's important to ensure you are both on the same page to avoid confusion or hurt," eHarmony researcher Rachael Lloyd told Mashable.

Many people also do not consider the repercussions of reaching out to an ex. For instance, the way in which your ex responds to your text has the potential to bring up a whirlwind of emotions for you. This can negatively impact you if you're already feeling an ample amount of stress, sadness, or anxiety. Before you try to reconnect, assess your own mental health. WebMD notes that if you're experiencing trouble sleeping, feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or unmotivated, your stress level may be high. Shifting your focus to your well-being can put you in a better position to reconnect with your loved ones — including your ex.

Create healthy boundaries with your ex

After your breakup, you'll likely need time apart from your ex to process the loss of the relationship, even if you decide to stay friends. However, many people choose to remain in contact with their exes. Doing so is within the realm of possibilities, so long as you have the proper boundaries in place, per PsychCentral. With established boundaries, you can both heal from the relationship while maintaining your mental health.

In terms of staying in contact, try to envision how you want the situation to work and communicate those details to your ex. For instance, telling the person, you will be there at a moment's notice is not a reasonable, effective boundary. Instead, explaining to your ex that you only want to be contacted in a certain way (phone call, text message, email, etc.) at specific times (on birthdays, for example) can create a clear, healthy boundary.

If you find it difficult to navigate your breakup and begin to recognize its negative impact on your mental health, do not hesitate to seek help. There are several resources available for managing symptoms ranging from anxiety to depression.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.