So You Want to Write a Letter to Your Ex

So you want to write a letter to your ex? I get that. Over the years on SYBD, there have been countless questions, comments, musings about whether or not someone should write a letter to their ex. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve contemplated that myself on a personal basis.

When a relationship ends there are usually a number of things you want to say or feelings you want to express but can’t or at least haven’t yet for some reason.

Whenever I’ve written a letter (or email) to my ex, it’s not really made a difference. If it did result in reconciliation, it seldom lasted long.

My general opinion about letters to an ex is that it doesn’t tend to “make or break” a situation in the long run.

There are a 5 things you might wish to take into account if you’re feeling the urge to make write that letter to an ex…

1) Time: How much time has passed?

How much time has elapsed? In the early days and weeks (after the split), the emotions tend to be raw, so how you feel at three days or even three weeks, is often not how you’ll feel after three months or three years.

So my advice is give it some time before you write an actual note to your ex.

Before you write this letter to an ex take a moment to reflect where you are on the healing time line?

More importantly where your emotions are….

2) Emotions: How emotional are you feeling right now?

Similar to “time” – your emotions are constantly changing thus so are the perceptions of your relationship and break up. They will continue to change over time.

Some days you will be sad, others angry, still others maybe empowered, and of course somedays you’ll be more forgiving than others too! I find that mostly our urge to write them is when we are angry, or sad or hurt (or any of the more negative emotions) when in fact we’d often be better waiting until we’re in a better state of mind before we put pen to paper.

3) Motivation: What is your intention in writing to your ex?

What are you hoping to achieve from this prose you’re sending? Are you hoping to chastise them for hurting you? Are you really gonna let him or her have a real piece of your mind? Or maybe you are planning on begging for another chance? Are you hoping it will miraculously alter the outcome, crystalise feelings and result in a new beginning? Are you aiming for that allusive “closure” in some shape or form? Or are you doing it because you’re feeling desperate for some form of “contact”, any contact, with your ex? Is it to make them feel good, bad, guilty, sad, or nostalgic? Or is it to make yourself feel better?

Take a beat, then a breath and then be honest with yourself – what really is your motivation for writing and what you do you hope happens?

4) Response: Can you handle getting one or not?

This too, truly, is a biggie. How would you feel if you never get a response (that has happened quite a few times to me and it stings!)?

How would you feel if you got a barrage of abuse back? How would you feel if you got a simple “Thanks” by way a response? How would you feel if they asked you to never contact them again?

In any event, even if you do get a response, it’s probably unlikely you’ll get the answers you’re looking for. We seldom do.

5) 48 Hours: Write it, sit and wait two days

A friend and former forum moderator Serena09 had great advice, and came up with what she called the “48 Hour Rule” which often got cited on our forum. She talks about it on this post Take My Advice…I’m Not Using It,…

Essentially the rule was – if you feel the need to write something, then do so, sit on it for 48 hours and if you can pick it up again and read it, do not feel the need to make any changes, and you still want to send it, then by all means, go for it.

However, if you make any changes what so over, the clock resets and you start the 48 hours over again.

Personally though I love the idea of it, I don’t think I really managed to do it (I can be a little impulsive to be fair).

That said, I do tend to take time to “sit on it” before sending anything emotional like that now. I do consider all the points above and make sure when I send something it’s from a positive, letting go frame-of-mind.

Do You Still Want to Write Your Ex?

Ask yourself if you are sending a letter (or an email) to an ex with no hope for reconciliation, no expectation for response, and with a view of letting go, and moving on – then I say “go ahead and go for it”.

Can you respond to the question – “Am I behaving like a rational, healthy, happy, forgiving and dignified person in this letter?”- affirmatively? Then sure, go ahead and send it.

Because until you can get to that point, I would recommend keeping the letters to ex to yourself. Store them in your phone or a journal, and stick to “No Contact”.

I believe that in most cases, your ex will probably know how you feel already. so if you’re writing to say how hurt, angry, used, betrayed – or whatever you feel – the chances are you’re not saying anything that they don’t already know.

Letters to Exes – Still Want to Write Your Ex?

SYBD Dead Message Diary - Available on Amazon

The inspiration for this blog post came about because of a young gentleman, a few years out of a break up (of sorts) shared his story and the letter to his ex, just the other day…

“Oh boy!” – I thought to myself – as I read his intensely-heavy email to a woman he’s not even had contact with for more than a year!

While I respected his right to write, I suggested he might wish to change the stance, just a little bit…You see, I pride myself into putting myself into other people’s shoes. As such, I could just imagine how she might take such a heavy, intense, heart-wrenching email (not to mention after more than a year of silence…!)

While I don’t tend to be a believer in “mistakes” or having “regrets”, I thought I’d share some things I have learned from my writing my own letter to an ex (to be honest there have been countless letters) and from  more than a decade of dumpees sharing their own letter to an ex!

I will use “mistakes” in this instance, but only because I couldn’t think of a better way to write this piece. So if you’re considering writing a letter to an ex, then you might wish to consider some of these following points (or not – the choice is entirely yours), before you do!


So what do you think? After reading this? Do you still feel like you want to writer a letter to your ex? Then by all means do it and I wish you much luck.

PS: By the way, if you like this topic a lot, you may want to check out Letter to My Ex. It was founded by a long time friend and supporter to SYBD. It’s an Aussie site filled with letters to exes!

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