Should I Respond to My Ex's Email?

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On an ordinary day, you sip coffee as you open your laptop or tap your phone to check your email. Your day quickly turns from ordinary to bizarre as your eyes dart to a message from your ex-boyfriend. The shock is enough to make you question what your next move should be. Rather than acting quickly out of alarm, there are steps you can take to determine if you should respond to your ex's email.

Too Soon?

Depending on the length of time between the breakup and your ex's email, you may not want to respond to his message. If you two ended your relationship pretty recently, and you're not sure that you or your ex is completely over the breakup, responding to the email is not in the best interest for either one of you. The less contact you have with your ex after a breakup, the easier it may be to move on. So, unless your ex emails asking for you to return his stuff, hold off drafting a long email and clicking send. You might be doing your heart a huge favor.

Old Feelings, New Dilemma

Even if you have been away from your ex for a long period of time, responding to her email may not be the best course of action, especially if your ex was one of your first serious partners. Those memories of "firsts" last longer in our brains; longer than most memories. "Part of why firsts affect us so powerfully is that they're seared into our psyches with a vividness and clarity that doesn't fade as other memories do," notes psychology writer Jay Dixit in his article "Heartbreak and Home Runs: The Power of First Experiences" on "Psychology Today." Reconnecting with a pretty noteworthy ex could cause you to conjure up old feelings and jeopardize the personal success you've attained since the breakup.

Think About Current Partner

If you're in a serious relationship or marriage, an email from an ex could cause tension between you and your partner. Consider your partner's feelings in the matter. Ask yourself how she would feel if you responded to your ex's email. What seems like an innocent, polite response could leave your current partner pondering why you're reconnecting. Also, consider your motives for responding to your ex. While you may not want to dump your current partner to rekindle an old relationship, unresolved issues from the past may persist and cause you to reconnect with your ex.

Consider All Outcomes

If after considering the length of time since your breakup, unresolved issues and your current partner's feelings you still question whether you should respond to your ex's email, consider all possible outcomes, specifically how you will feel. You might feel good after sending your response. However, if you send an open-ended response and expect an answer in return, you may feel down if he doesn't respond. Lastly, if you don't respond at all, you may be left with "what if" questions. Pick the option that will give you peace of mind.