Q: “After a breakup, who should be the first to reach out? The dumper? Or the dumpee?”

A: Neither, because reaching out to your ex is a stupid idea!

Look, people break up for a variety of reasons. Some of those include incompatibility, infidelity, and differences in life direction. Regardless of the reason, breakups are final… well, at least these things are supposed to be. That’s why they should be kept that way. That said, it’s not uncommon for people to want to reconnect with their ex. I can think of two reasons why this is, and neither of these reasons are good:

  1. If you’re the one who was dumped, you’re reaching out because you’re mistaking insecurity and your fear of being alone with “true love.”
  2. If you’re the one who did the dumping, you’re reaching out because you want to use your ex for that quick dopamine rush that only attention can provide. (You know it’s cruel to lead them on, but you just can’t help yourself.)

As I said above, neither of these is a good reason to “reach out” to your ex. Depending on which of the above person you are, you’re either going to hurt yourself or hurt the person you once thought you loved. That’s hardly the definition of “moving on,” is it? (Rhetorical question.)

Breakups would be easier one everyone if we quit calling them “breakups” and started thinking of these incidents as “breakthroughs.” If more people did this, they might learn any or all of the different lessons to be gained from these experiences. For example, if you’re the “dumpee,” you might:

  • See that being alone isn’t something to fear and you’ll stop making bad relationship decisions.
  • Understand that you teach people how to treat you, which I’ve written about here.
  • Learn how to choose partners who are better suited to you.
  • Learn to treat your partner better and meet their emotional needs in order to maintain future relationships.
  • Understand the importance of building trust over time instead of rushing into things.

If you’re the one who ended the relationship, aka the “dumper,” you also can learn from your breakthrough. Some of these life lessons include:

  • Realizing that it’s wrong to lead people on and use them for an ego boost.
  • Knowing when you’re ready for a relationship and when you’re not.
  • Not saying “I love you” unless you truly mean it.
  • Taking time to heal between breakups/breakthroughs before rushing into another relationship.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation and made all of these mistakes. The lessons I’ve shared with you here are the ones I wish I would’ve learned earlier in life. If I had, my breakups could have led to breakthroughs, thus saving me plenty of pain, shame, and embarrassment. I share it here in hopes that it might help someone by preventing them from making a huge mistake.

Best of luck on a successful breakthrough!

About John P. Ribner

Born in Flint, Michigan. Raised by narcissists. Victim of a drive-by shooting. Writer. Singer/songwriter. Punk rock enthusiast. Martial artist. Social critic. Iconoclast. Author of “Wasted Youth: A Flint Punk Rock Memoir.”