I am genuinely worried and would like to know how an old ex-girlfriend is doing. But it's been well over 2 years since she and I last talked and when we broke up, it wasn't on good terms.

I DON'T want her to think I'm trying to re-ignite anything but I DO want to come off nice and genuinely concerned.

My initial approach was to just say "Hey, how have you been?" But now I'm not sure if I should even talk to her again or if I should just let old relationships be set aside.

Context: We broke up because of misunderstandings in showing proper affection. The misunderstanding led to unfortunate argument exchanges and it was bad enough that we didn't speak for 2 years. We both "hated" each other but at the same time still deeply cared for each other... I'm not sure how this is scientifically stated, but that's the best way I can explain it.

My goal is just to be her friend again, because we were best friends before dating. As a friend, I just want to be in good terms again. So that at least when we see each other, we can say hi, or catch up since it's been so long. But am I looking to hang out with her on a regular basis again? Probably not. Essentially, I'd like for us to be at least acquaintances, if not friends.

How do I start a conversation with an ex to restore past friendship?

  • She and I are Asians living in America. So, I guess it's better stated as Americans who were raised in an Asian household.
  • Hello, welcome to IPS! Can you add more context to your question? How bad was the break-up? Did she explicitly say she did or did not want to speak to you again, and why do you want to talk to her again? What is your goal? What country are you from? (because of cultural nuances within each country) and if you don't mind, check out the meta on how to write a good question for IPS! I hope this helps! – ElizB Oct 21 at 22:35
  • Hi, I've done my best to add in more context. – Jonathan Oct 21 at 23:12
  • It's still pretty broad in my perspective, can you add anything else like the reason why you simply just want to be her friend again? What does friendship mean to you, between you and your ex? (what kinds of things you want to do, etc). I also edited to make the question clearer, and if you disagree, feel free to roll it back. – ElizB Oct 22 at 0:01
  • Does that make it better? – Jonathan Oct 22 at 0:33
  • @Jonathan is there any specific reason you are feeling genuinely worried now after 2 years of not talking? – BKlassen Oct 22 at 17:30
up vote 10 down vote accepted

How do I start a conversation with an ex to restore past friendship?

Here's the thing about friendships, they require that both parties involved want to be a part of them.

Now imagine you've broken up badly and you're upset, but eventually you get over it. You make new friends, pick up some new hobbies and piece things back together. Then two years later out of the blue you hear from this ex asking to come back into your life.

From personal experience, I'd like to tell you to drop these thoughts. The both of you knew (or should've known) that by starting a relationship you were risking the friendship. It was a risk you took so that you could be even closer, and it looks like it didn't pay off.

I would strongly suggest that you accept this as the price to pay for being in a relationship with a close friend and learn the lesson for next time.

However, if you really insist on going through with this...

  • Any hangout should be in a group setting

    Don't be alone with this girl. Not only will that send the wrong signal, but it will likely be awkward for the two of you. A group will give the both of you some wiggle room. If things get awkward, you can talk to someone else.

  • At least the initial hangouts should have some activity planned

    With close friends you can just pop over to their house and whatever happens happens. Maybe you spend 5 hours on the couch watching TV and talking about the latest gossip. Maybe you find yourselves in Walmart for hours. The simple truth is you're not going to know what to do or how to act with each other, that's something you'll need to rediscover. The best way I've found to do this is over some activity. Maybe it's a boardgame night, maybe it's video games, but the activity will help to lessen the awkwardness.

  • Don't approach her directly

    Setup a hangout and have a mutual friend invite the ex. Make sure she's made aware that you'll be there and that you know she'll be there and you're fine with it. This will let her know that you're open to being friends again without making it look like you're pushing for it.

  • I see, I will take your advice into strong consideration. Also, please see comment to OP. – Jonathan Oct 22 at 17:35

Be Honest.

First of all be honest with yourself, sometimes we just try to convince ourselves that we just want friendship when we end up realizing that was just withdrawal from the other person and our intentions weren't precisely friendship at all, as a friendly tip I would suggest you to try to determine if that's your case, because otherwise you will fail at the second part(doesn't matter which are your intentions if you don't express them truthfully and straigh forward), which is the important and the one you're concerned about.

Be honest with her. Just tell her what you want and how you feel, don't overthink too much and try your best to not be anxious about it. You'll try your best and then it's up to her to choose if she want to try friendship or not.

Being honest on what you want and feel is the best way to start solving problems in interpersonal issues.

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