There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being cheated on, then pressured into cordially communicating with your now ex. It’s true folks, some human behavior is so baffling it will leave you wondering what has become of the world. Fortunately, if your cheating ex wants to talk again, you are in no way obliged to participate. According to NYC-based relationship expert Susan Winter, more often than not, cheating exes don’t reach out for the right reasons.
"Though we’d love to think our ex is reaching out to us because they’ve had a change of heart or feel guilty about losing someone valuable, chances are good they’re simply bored and curious," Winter tells Elite Daily. Although it can be tempting to give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if you were in a long-term committed relationship with this person, don’t be surprised if their intentions are self-serving. "They may be trying to see if you’re willing to hook up," warns Winter. If this is the case, then it’s clear that they haven’t done much self-reflection, and don’t care about your well-being enough to understand why trying to have casual sex with someone they cheated on is problematic.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. "On the one percent chance that they have regrets, reaching out to you would need to come with a sincere apology," says Winter. And even then, they should also be completely transparent about what they’re hoping to achieve by re-establishing communication with you. Whether they want to clear their conscience, try to be friends, or see if it’s possible to start dating again, making their intentions clear from the start is paramount. If you get even the slightest feeling that they’re looking for a casual hookup, or suggest meeting for drinks "to talk" (which they know could lead to sex), it would definitely be in your best interest to run in the other direction.
If you don’t want to risk getting re-entangled with an ex who hurt you, the safest way to handle the situation is to be direct. "Clearly state that you don’t want to speak as you have nothing you care to say," says Winter. "Entering communication at this point isn’t helpful. They’ve shown you their lack of character, and that’s evidence enough to warrant moving on." On the other hand, if you’re open to being in contact, proceed with extreme caution. "This person cheated on you and probably broke your heart in the process," explains Winter. "Ask yourself why you would give them any more of your valuable time or energy."
At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you to decide if you think an ex who cheated deserves a second chance to be in your life. Relationships are complex, and infidelity can be too. "There are always extenuating circumstances that completely alter cut and dried relationship protocol," notes Winter. "If you sincerely feel your relationship’s circumstances were unique and cluttered with unintentional misunderstandings, you may feel compelled to have a serious discussion with your ex." If you decide to give them a chance, feel free to do so on your terms. Since texts can be misinterpreted, it might be better to talk on the phone, video chat, or meet in person. However, if you decide to meet in person, it’s probably best to meet during the day in a public place so it’s clear you’re not looking to hookup.
"If in your heart of hearts you feel they never meant to hurt you and were confused by your lack of clarity in outlining the terms of your relationship, then the conversation may be helpful," says Winter. However, if at any point during the conversation you feel uncomfortable, or realize that your ex isn’t someone you want to stay in contact with, you can leave. Don’t feel like you have to explain or justify why you don’t want to date or be friends after what happened. In situations like this, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting your needs first and doing what you need to do to protect your heart and preserve your mental health.
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