ROSIE GREEN: Dilemma: should you reply to an ex’s text?


Styling: Nicola Rose. Make-up: Caroline Barnes at Frank Agency. Hair: Alex Szabo  at Carol Hayes.

Styling: Nicola Rose. Caroline Barnes, Frank Agency. Makeup. Hair: Alex Szabo  at Carol Hayes. 

 Until my marriage break-up I didn’t have that many exes. To be exact, I had two: one at school and one during my gap year. After we parted ways, the former shaved off his surfer locks and sent my curls by post. Which was interesting – although his darkly romantic (or just plain weird?) gesture was somewhat undermined by the fact the hair was in a shoebox that was obviously once home to a pair of his mother’s Kurt Geigers.

Now, after a couple of years of dating, I have collected a few more exes and I realise that they exist in a weird realm – one minute that person is an all-consuming presence in your life, the next they’ve disappeared. They are both familiar and strangers. An ex can bring you back to the present moment, much like a song or smell.

The fairy tales about exes are often what women absorb. The ultimate goal of a woman who has broken up with her husband is to wake one morning full of regret, longing and pain from the mistakes of their ways. A good example of this is the Duke and Duchess Of Cambridge. It’s generally acknowledged that ‘Waity Katy’ played a blinder. After William split up, she was unable to resist the temptation of sitting on her hands. She was not papped leaving an insanely hot personal trainer’s house at 6am in the same clothes she’d been wearing the night before. Nor did she post about the monarch-to-be’s manhood proportions on social media. No, she got a job, went out with the girls and was seen with a ‘handsome heir to a shipping fortune’. Nation rejoiced when William and Kate were back together.

We aren’t friends. Our history is our past. 

There’s another ex file lodged firmly in my mind. My friend Ella, in her 20s was devastated when her husband, a financier, left her and moved to Manhattan to pursue his Wall Street dreams. We counselled her and provided endless margaritas as she became red-eyed and tired for months.

self-empowerment mantras. After that, she got back up and started to get herself in order. Soon after, she arrived in New York City for work. When she went out for dinner, he showed up. They met up and talked all night. He was there 24 hours later with an amazing Tiffany ring.

Kansas University research shows that half of married couples fall back together. Exes in new relationships can be a menace. When I shared my marital breakup with the media, I received messages from past men. One came from my childhood crush. He was my 14-year old self. I would staring at his neck during chemistry class. I was not attracted to him when he called me in 2020.

My phone will ping me with ex messages every now and again. Sometimes it’s just a friendly ‘Hello’ but sometimes it’s more ‘Can we go out for dinner?’ Last week I got an ex message. Not from the husband who broke my heart for 26 years but rather from an ex. The conversation was light-hearted and entailed sharing of memories, with some suggestiveness. It felt easy (and polite!) to send a message in the same vein. But now I’m in a relationship that would not be right. Although it can feel nice at the time, long-term, it would not be right for me. My ex and me aren’t friends. We have a history.

Harry, in When Harry Met Sally, doubts that opposite sexes could ever be truly platonic friends. This is even more unlikely when you consider exes. Morally, any communication with your ex-partner is questionable. Would it be okay if my boyfriend had a relationship with an ex? This would be an egregious no.

Anyway I did message him back, just to say I didn’t think contacting me was appropriate. Which felt insanely grown-up – and maybe a little presumptuous. Hey,

I’m still learning.