Relationships / 9 February 2016, 07:33am / Alyssia Birjalal and Liam Joyce
Durban - Is it okay to call your ex on Valentine’s Day? Alyssia Birjalal and Liam Joyce asked the experts, and their opinions were divided...
I have no problem with Valentine’s Day. If you want to go ahead and celebrate your love on one of the most commercialised days on the calender, go ahead. I do have a problem, however, with people who think it’s okay to call up their ex partners.
I decided to call up a professional for some sound advice on why you should never do that. Dr Helen Anderson, a counselling psychologist based in Durban, advised against it.
Anderson said many people dial an ex because they feel lonely. “Some single people may feel lonely around Valentine’s Day, particularly if they are not comfortable within themselves.
“A person who likes him/herself will enjoy being alone. A person who is lonely will be emotionally vulnerable.
“They may remember only the good parts of the old relationship and yearn for the old perceived connection,” she said.
“Keep busy with friends so that you do not get sucked into the loneliness. Work on learning to love yourself so that your own company is good enough. Work on your new relationship if you have one. Relationships are never easy, your current partner is your best opportunity to work on your interpersonal issues.”
She also said that completely cutting off an ex was healthy if the relationship was an unhealthy one.
“The toxic parts of your life serve no good purpose and will definitely not aid your personal happiness. Only if the reason for the break-up was, for example, due to feelings fading to friendship, and there is no hurt or animosity, then cutting someone off is unnecessary.
“But once you are in a new relationship, it is unfair to your new partner to hold on to old ties, even if you feel that you are ‘just friends’, due to the history between the two of you.”
As Valentine’s Day approaches those in relationships join the retail rush to pick up something romantic and possibly expensive for their significant other. If you are anything like me, you will refuse to be part of this money-making retail farce.
A brief discussion with my colleague got me thinking about whether it’s okay to make contact with an ex partner on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
James Sturdee, a private psychological counsellor in the greater Durban and Upper Highway area, thinks that if your relationship ended amicably, then communicating with an old flame isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
He said Valentine’s Day, although a corporate exercise tends to make people believe that they are missing out on something that they should be involved in.
“This can be particularly distressing for people who aren’t in a relationship, are bored or unfulfilled in their relationship, or are in a toxic relationship. As a result they might use this opportunity to reflect on past romances or missed chances, and as a result initiate correspondence with ex flames,” explained Sturdee.
Before initiating communication, however, clarify the reason and importance of it.
“Human beings are complex creatures. In these cases it would be important to clarify to yourself the reason for the contact. Are you looking to just catch up with someone because they were once a very important part of your life and with whom you shared a history?
“Self-honesty is important before making contact,” he said.
Sturdee mentioned that one should not call an ex during the initial “grieving period” as this might bring about confusion, but as time passes emotions process and so interactions will become more neutral and less charged. He says healthy boundaries should be in place to protect yourself.
“Good boundary setting means knowing who to keep at arm’s length! We don’t have to let everyone in to our house, some people can stand in the garden and others we might prefer to stand on the road, to speak metaphorically,” he said.
He said although ongoing interactions with ex partners are few and far between, trust and communication needs to be very solid.
This would be strongly linked to the personal self-esteem of the individuals in the neutral relationship.
“It comes down to knowing yourself and knowing what you are prepared to put up with.
“If an ex is or was abusive (emotionally or physically), manipulative, controlling, threatening or stalking you – these are generally very good reasons to terminate a relationship indefinitely. Your health should be your priority.”