Sage & Blunt: Ex on Eggshells


Cornelia Di Gioia

Graphic by Cornelia Di Gioia.

Sage & Blunt

Dear Sage & Blunt,

My ex and I dated pretty seriously at the beginning of college. Our breakup started amicable and then became messy, and in a heated fight, we decided not to speak to each other. It’s now been well over a year, and we still haven’t talked. All I have received are glares and avoidance, and I’ve followed their lead because they wanted space.

But graduation is coming up and I’m wondering if I should reach out. It’s sad that someone I once shared so much with is now a stranger. I’d like to know how they’re doing, but on the other hand, I did the dumping and I don’t want to cause them more harm. Should I reach out before graduation, or just let it go?


Ex on Eggshells


Dear Ex on Eggshells,

I’m sorry to hear that things are strained with your ex. Oh, how I know the pain of becoming strangers. I imagine the feeling of finality that surrounds graduation is only exacerbating that ache. Of course, you would like to know how they’re doing. I have limited intel here, but let’s face it, Eggshells, it does not seem like they want anything to do with you.

Often, we like to make ourselves believe that the people we miss are secretly harboring hopes that we will write them a letter or extend some token that otherwise proves we still think about them. And while maybe sometimes that’s true — we all love to be thought of — if all they are willing to do in front of you is glare and avoid, that’s the impression you need to work from. Clearly, they have decided that any feelings they are having about estrangement and commencement are not for you to see. 

Look, I am a terribly sentimental person. I keep a diary, I re-read old texts, I accumulate souvenirs. I think of new things to say to past companions every day because I spend a lot of time ruminating on what has already happened. The urge to share my meditations can be overpowering and quite romantic, but I have weathered enough temptation to realize that urges are for you and the people you are still close with — they are not for strangers. Instead, I project everything onto the advice column I write, and I call my mom a lot.

It’s hard for me to imagine that you reaching out would harm your ex unless you effed up in a graver way than you are willing to admit in your letter, but do you actually have something to say? I do not know if “It’s sad that we used to share so much and now we’re strangers” counts because everybody knows that already.

The thing to remember is that you will still feel sad about becoming strangers with someone you once knew intimately, no matter what you decide to do before graduation. It’s unlikely that reaching out will soothe that feeling. You will probably just have to live with it for a while, which –– make no mistake –– sucks. There will be more people to share your life with who you will eventually need to leave behind. This might be a good chance to practice.

Here’s what I think you should do — do not bother your ex and regard them with warmth even when they glare and get yourself to the commencement stage on May 22. Afterwards, when everyone is milling about on the grass, teary, and hugging and drinking champagne with their parents, find a free moment to go up to your ex. Congratulate them, wish them well, tell them you love them if that’s still true/the way you two do things –– again, working with a terribly sentimental personality over here –– and then let it be. They have your number.

Graduation feels like the end of so much because it is, but it’s not the end of everything. This season kicks up so much nostalgia that it’s hard to keep your head on straight. But your ex still exists after you both move on from college. And, per my last column, a year is so little time. Who knows what’s in store after this. Maybe you will never speak again, maybe things between you will cool off enough to form a kind of friendship, maybe something else will happen. But it does not all come down to what you do or do not say in the next few weeks. Take it one day at a time — that’s advice I would apply generally and liberally. And congrats, grad.

With love, truly,

Sage & Blunt