Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear iris,

"Quarantine is lonely and I'm losing my mind. It's not that I really want a relationship right now, but I want some sort of company. Dating is near impossible and I don't want to meet a bunch of strangers. So, with all that said... is it really that bad to text my ex? He lives in Rhode Island and I live in Los Angeles. We're not going to see each other. But it would be nice to sext or flirt or something! I feel like I'm going crazy, always being alone. I don't want to get back together with him so I don't see the issue with us just reconnecting for the time being. I know about the whole cliche, 'don't text your ex,' but I want to know what you think."

Mr. Tempted

Dear Mr. Tempted,

I definitely relate to this feeling. The pandemic is taking a toll on a lot of people’s sanity. Isolating for months isn’t something humans are cut out for; we’re social creatures, and we need interaction with other people. I know, personally, I’d do anything for a solid Sunday brunch with my friends right about now. Yet, we have to learn to handle the cards we’ve been dealt.

But what you’re looking for is more than just hitting up a friend. You want to flirt and sext and do all the things (socially distanced, of course) with someone you’re attracted to. That’s a whole different set of emotions.

So the question is, is it okay to fill that void with an easily-accessible, very familiar person, aka your ex?

It depends on a few questions.

How did the relationship end? If you initiated the breakup and your ex tried to win you back for weeks, only for you to avoid his ten calls in a row and block his number, then it's not a good idea to text him. Essentially, if you think your ex might take it as a sign that you are interested in re-igniting your old flame, you should reconsider this idea. You’ll be flirting, but he'll be fantasizing about rekindling your relationship. Trust me, that won’t end well.

Are your intentions pure? Do you just want to flirt, without any expectations of anything more? Can you handle the dynamics being much different than when you were together? It’s important to make sure you're not harboring any secret feelings. The dynamics between both of you will be much different than when you dated. Can you handle that?

Can you be straightforward with him? What would happen if you said, “I don’t want to get back together, but I miss talking to you”? That might seem extremely honest, but it’s better to be upfront than string someone along. Plus, if you’re both on the same page, there’s room for you both to be extra creative with whatever kind of, ahem, intimate texting you get into.

You can’t ignore your answers to these questions. They’re the deciding factors on whether texting your ex is a good idea or a path you shouldn’t go down. There’s a reason the cliché “don’t text your ex,” exists; it’s usually not a good idea.

But this is quarantine, normal rules are out the window. We have to do what we need to do to survive. If that means shooting your ex a text, then so be it. Just watch out for any signs that he’s hoping for a future where you get back together. Be prepared for your ex to flip a switch at any moment and ghost you. Heck, be ready for them to not text you back at all. Remember: your emotions aren’t the only ones involved here.

I’ll leave you with final words from the wise T Swift: it could last forever (well, until a vaccine is found), or it’ll go down in flames.

Proceed with caution.

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