Dear Dating Bitch: How to Handle the Reappearing Ex

Woman's hands over photo of couple and paper-made broken heart

Back From the Dead: When a Zombie (aka, a ‘Reappearing Ex’) Attacks

Hello again friends, and welcome back to another edition of Dear Dating Bitch – my millennial agony aunt column for dating, relationship, and breakup advice.

Given that it’s Fall (and apparently everyone aside from me is already prepping for Halloween) I decided to be cute and use the Zombie theme for today’s segment.

Technically, millennials consider a “zombie” to be someone who comes back into your life after initially ghosting, but I’ll be using it to refer to any kind of reappearing ex. And today, I’ll be answering several questions pertaining to these kinds of “zombie attacks.”

So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Dear Dating Bitch - My Ex has come back into my life but I'm happily engaged.

Dear Dating Bitch is my online advice column. Submit to me here (don’t worry, it’s anonymous!)

*Note: questions may have been edited for length/clarity.

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Q: My ex – who put me through a love triangle, took my virginity, and broke up with me after his prom – has recently reached out to me. For more context, he was also my childhood best friend.

Is this a good idea? We have so much history, but I don’t want him to get reattached to me since I’m happily engaged.

Unsure about Reappearing Ex

Dear Unsure about Reappearing Ex:

I had to re-read your letter a couple of times before I felt ready to give my input. You asked “is this a good idea,” and my gut reaction was to say No, probably not. Before I go any further with my explanation, though, go ahead and re-read your letter for yourself.

Right off the bat you describe this ex as someone who caused you a great deal of heartache and drama – the fact that you phrased this love triangle as something that he “put you through” makes me think that you were heavily invested in him (possibly after the loss of your virginity) when he blindsided you with his interest in another woman. Of course, I could be misunderstanding the situation, but it would appear that your memories of him aren’t necessarily that great.

So… why would you want to let someone who hurt you so deeply back into your life?

Now, with that said, I’ll go ahead and assume that you have your own reasons for considering this potential zombie apocalypse re-connection (you do mention an extensive history.) I’ll also assume that you’re only interested in reconnecting platonically. There’s one part of your letter that still gives me pause:

You’re unsure because you don’t want your ex to get too attached and end up getting hurt. Why do you think this? Has your ex said something to imply that he wants to pursue you romantically? Presumably, if that were true, you’d have immediately shut him down. But, maybe that’s just something you’re vaguely worried about. In that case, it appears that you’re still putting his feelings above your own.

Also, I can’t help but notice that you didn’t mention how your fiance feels about this. Does he think it’s a good idea? Does he know that your ex has recently tried to get in touch? I’d hate for you to jeopardize your current happy engagement over keeping unnecessary secrets, so if you haven’t already, I think you should talk with your fiance about all of this.

And if after all of this you still want to give this reappearing ex another chance, make sure you set clear boundaries from the start. You’re engaged, you’re happy, and you’re only interested in platonic friendship.

Q: My ex says she loves me, just not romantically. Should I try to reconnect in six months?

Hopeful for Second Chance

Dear Hopeful:

Oh, honey. I would love nothing more than to tell you, “sure! go for it! people change their minds all the time!” Unfortunately, I’d be a terrible advice columnist if I did that.

She’s told you pretty directly that she doesn’t want a romantic relationship with you. Unless she comes back to you in six months saying she’d like to get back together, trying to reconnect is probably just going to do more harm than good.

And, while we’re at it, you should stop talking to her if you haven’t already. Staying friends while secretly hoping for a relationship is a pretty solid recipe for heartbreak.

Related Read: Why It’s So Important to Follow “No Contact” After a Breakup

Q: I want to try reconnect with a guy that I dated almost a year ago. I haven’t seen or talked to him since I broke up with him, how should I contact him and what do I say?

I am the Reappearing Ex

Dear Reappearing Ex:

Why is it that you suddenly want to get back in contact with this guy? I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, but before you do, make sure you know your own intentions so that you don’t cause someone else pain.

After that, reach out to him with kindness and clarity:

Hey Joe, I know we haven’t talked for a while but I wanted to reach out and see how you are. I’d love to [be friends/get lunch sometime/explain the breakup.]

Alternatively, if you’re interested in a relationship, say that upfront:

Hey Joe, I realized I made a mistake in ending our relationship and I’d like to pursue a possible reconciliation if you’re open to that.

Oh, and only reach out once. If he doesn’t answer, it’s a clear indication that he’s not interested in hearing from you.

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Conclusion: Dealing with Romantic Zombies

That’s it for this week everyone. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Do you agree with my advice? Have you ever had – or been – a reappearing ex? Let me know in the comments below!

As always, thanks for reading!

xx
Katie

P.S. – Don’t forget to send in your own questions here!

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28 Thoughts on Dear Dating Bitch: How to Handle the Reappearing Ex
    Sara
    9 Sep 2021
    9:45am

    I love this segment so helpful and sometimes people don’t know how to approach a situation in romantic relationships!

      datingbitch
      9 Sep 2021
      11:19am

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed xx

    Vourneen
    9 Sep 2021
    11:39am

    I’ve never heard of the term ‘zombie’ when talking about a reappearing ex! But maybe that’s just my age haha. I’ve definitely had reappearing exes and I love the advice you’ve given for these questions. It’s great for people have someone to write in to and get pure unbiased advice!

      datingbitch
      9 Sep 2021
      6:44pm

      I hope they find it helpful! I try to be both honest and kind because sometimes people need a cold dose of reality. And as for the term “zombie,” I’m not sure I’m using it entirely right in this situation, but it seemed appropriate to me.

    Headphonesthoughts
    9 Sep 2021
    12:42pm

    I have had past ex friends show up in my life and sometimes it’s so awkward. I just wish some people got the message you don’t want them in your life anymore. Great tips

      datingbitch
      9 Sep 2021
      6:45pm

      Very true – people tend to cling to the past though.

    Sue Berk Koch
    9 Sep 2021
    3:40pm

    Oh yes, I’ve had zombies in my life. Apt term. It never ends well so I’m with you. Time to get tough and cut off their proverbial heads.

      datingbitch
      9 Sep 2021
      6:40pm

      Ha! I love it! Just like the Walking Dead.

    Fransic verso
    9 Sep 2021
    5:56pm

    Paying attention to different aspects of things before going back to an ex.

    Fransic

      datingbitch
      9 Sep 2021
      6:38pm

      Very true!

    Della Driscoll
    10 Sep 2021
    3:23am

    Yes to all of this advice, such brilliant and wise words from you! Loved this post x

      datingbitch
      10 Sep 2021
      3:45pm

      Awe, that’s so sweet thank you!!

    Charity
    10 Sep 2021
    6:12am

    This is all such great advice. Thanks so much for sharing!

      datingbitch
      10 Sep 2021
      3:45pm

      Thanks for reading! xx

    Basic With Life
    10 Sep 2021
    11:14am

    I loving the Zombie terminology, brilliant questions and answers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hopes their ex reads this blog post.

      datingbitch
      10 Sep 2021
      3:46pm

      😂 oh, yeah, I’m sure!

    Biren
    11 Sep 2021
    8:18am

    Once again a brilliant piece of advice, Katie! I always love your this segment. Especially the first question – I definitely agree with you that to put ourselves first and don’t allow the ex to repeat the past. It would be you’re inviting someone to hurt you again, especially when you already are in a relationship is more hurting! Rest are very nicely advised too! Great to read!

      datingbitch
      12 Sep 2021
      8:29am

      I love how many people enjoy this segment so thank you! I agree, it’s dangerous to allow someone who hurt you deeply to come back into your life.

    Jordanne || Ofaglasgowgirl
    12 Sep 2021
    7:44am

    Really enjoy reading your advice. The first one stood out the most as I’ve been in that sort of situation. Happily engaged when an ex who caused so much heartbreak got in touch again. I talked with my fiancé about it so that there were no secrets but I had no intentions of replying or allowing them back in. They are an ex for a reason.

      datingbitch
      12 Sep 2021
      8:30am

      That’s a great point and I’m glad you were forthcoming with your partner. Honesty is always so important.

    Mummy Conquering Anxiety
    12 Sep 2021
    11:29am

    Great advice.

    It brings back memories of when I used to be in this position and I feel for anyone who is currently.

    The zombie ex – love it xx

      datingbitch
      12 Sep 2021
      6:04pm

      Yeah, it can definitely be difficult to navigate.

    Anke
    13 Sep 2021
    1:45am

    Love Love Love this!!!! The Zombie-X… Who knew!!!

      datingbitch
      13 Sep 2021
      4:24pm

      LOL, so glad you liked it!

    Nons Mshengu
    13 Sep 2021
    5:35pm

    And they always come back!

    My strategy is simple: once we are over, we are over ! I always make sure not to engage because most of the time they are just checking to see if they still have access to you.

    Great post , I chuckled quite a bit !

      datingbitch
      15 Sep 2021
      12:41pm

      I always love when people find my sense of humor enjoyable, so thank you! I totally get that – I think there’s definitely a chance at being friendly, but the timing for this letter writer definitely seems like the ex knows they’ve moved on and wants to creep back into their life somehow.

    Alicia Thompson
    13 Sep 2021
    11:11pm

    Hello! I love these posts! Thanks for sharing! I never knew about the term ZOMBIE but I am saving that one for later! I’ve never had to deal with Exs like this but enjoyed the read! Alicia

      datingbitch
      15 Sep 2021
      12:42pm

      It’s all these new millennial/Gen-Z dating terms lol!

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