How Much Should We Tell Our Ex?

I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend. She'd seen photographs on social media that looked as if her ex had remarried. Whilst they'd not met up for a while she felt disappointed that he'd not contacted her to tell her his news in person rather than have her find out in this way. Even though they'd broken up some time ago their 25 year friendship had been conducted in an amicable way, still occasionally meeting for a catch-up. Surely a little consideration and good manners could have been exercised.

It led us to discuss how much should we tell our ex.

- Does our ex really need to know if we're emigrating, getting remarried, becoming a parent? Surely they're an ex for a reason. We may have loved each other once, but those days are over now, regardless of whose decision it was to break up. However, dependent on the nature of our relationship or whether or not we still meet from time to time, are friendly enough, have mutual contacts, there can be an argument for being respectful and making the effort to let them know if our situation changes. We're likely to know if they'd be interested in hearing our news or not. A little thought and mutual respect can help to ease the transition into this new phase.

- On the one hand we might say that once a relationship is over it's over. We don't owe each other anything and there's rarely any going back once something hasn't worked out the first time around. Yes, we may continue to conduct ourselves with humour and good will. Certainly if children or mutual interests, like business ventures or family friends are involved different rules apply, but for some people an ending means it's time for a clean break, especially if a new, significant relationship seems to be appearing on the horizon.

- It can be disconcerting for a new partner to have an ex seemingly loitering in the wings. There may be suspicions as to the nature of the old relationship; could one of them have an ulterior motive, are they perhaps waiting for any new relationships to fail, hoping to resume where they left off, or are they keeping a reserve in the wings just in case? Posting a new relationship status on social media can provide some reassurance as it informs all concerned in a public way and allows the news to filter through to any interested parties, thus avoiding the need for meeting, discussion or confrontation.

- Times have changed. At one time we may have been relatively unaware of our ex's situation, only finding things out by accident, perhaps after a significant period of time. With social media now used so extensively we receive regular updates and are privy to many details of each other's lives. We do have some responsibility to consider who is likely to see our postings and ensure that we treat those people with respect and consideration. Good manners may mean that we do the 'decent thing' and speak to affected people in person prior to posting, especially if we feel that their feelings still deserve some consideration.

- As we get older we need to accept that most adults over a certain age have a past, a history that includes previous partners. Those experiences have contributed to making them the person they are today. But as we move on in life and look to broadcast our new happy status remember to consider our ex's situation. We may be unaware if they're in a good place or are they feeling alone, unloved, struggling financially, career wise? Finding sensitive, appropriate ways to disclose the right amount of information in a considerate way may be hard to navigate. It's important to try to do the 'right thing' and treat others as we would like to be treated.

Good manners, consideration and thoughtfulness are always qualities to be appreciated. Dedicating a little time to disclose your new situation or good fortune to your ex, and do it 'nicely' is a generous gesture and a measure of your own compassion in the midst of your new found happiness.


Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.

She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.

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