Breaking up is tough, even for couples who both realize they have grown apart. If one of you dumped the other, healing from the breakup is even more difficult. Yet a breakup is rarely the final exchange between two former partners. The odds are good that one of you will eventually contact the other. Whether you should respond to your ex depends on numerous factors.

No Contact

Relationship counselor Yangki Akiteng explains that the No Contact rule creates needed distance between people who recently broke up. This allows both people to heal their wounds, grieve the relationship and work through their separate issues. In time, you might decide to be friends or rekindle the romance, but without time apart the new relationship would likely fail. There is no set time frame for No Contact, but most people try six months or a year. If you only recently broke up, responding to your ex could reopen fresh wounds.

Reasons for Breaking Up

Before responding, think through the reasons you broke up. People can change, but it generally takes a long time and a lot of work. If your ex dumped you, consider whether he might do it again. If you left because you couldn’t stand certain behaviors, ask yourself whether you are now ready to accept them. Assume that your ex is the same person you broke up with, and take a hard look at whether you are able to live with that person.

Reasons for Responding

Consider your motivations for responding. You might hope to get back together, be interested in becoming friends, or simply be curious how life is treating your ex. Other reasons for responding are vindictive and hurtful. If you want to show her what she lost, hurt her as badly as she hurt you, or brag about your new relationship, no good can come from responding. Delete the e-mail and focus on rebuilding your life.

Staying Neutral

According to The Rules Revisited website, it is important to stay neutral in your response. You don’t know what your ex’s motivations were for contacting you, and it is best not to appear too eager. Akiteng points out that rather than wasting energy trying to figure out what he wants, it is better to expend that energy on yourself. Compose a short, to the point e-mail that addresses what was directly said without adding to it. Keep the lines of communication open, but do not jump back into full contact too quickly. Allow your ex to set the pace, but keep control over your responses.