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Break-ups are hard enough to deal with, so, when a texting ex-girlfriend just doesn’t seem to leave you alone, it can make your mind spin and send your emotions into a free for all. Trust me, I know from firsthand experience.

Without going into too many details, my ex-girlfriend and I broke up over a year ago, with her leaving me on the doorstep of our shared apartment crying as she abruptly moved out. This is the girl I was just months away from proposing to, and she didn’t give me a reason as to why she had a change of heart or why she decided to end things in such a manner. Either way, the pain was very real, pretty much affecting me all summer long until I moved out of the aforementioned place we lived in together.

Since the break-up, I hadn’t seen nor talked to her once. Then, out of nowhere, she texted on St. Patrick’s Day this year, sending a photo of a musician singing “Sweet Caroline,” (which is the song I often belt out while drunk), at a bar we used to go to together. The text said, “Made me think of you. Know you’re well, glad you are.” It hurt, it confused me, it made me mad.

A few months passed and, out of nowhere (again), she did something similar following the first game of this year’s NBA Finals, simply texting, “Tough loss,” after my favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, blew an opportunity to beat the Golden State Warriors. It was right as the final buzzer sounded, too, so talk about bad timing, right?

Anyway, as all of this has unfolded in the past few months, its kept her in my mind — which is exactly what she’s hoping with the texts — making me think of her and holding me back from fully forgetting about her. Even without replying back at all, it’s still confusing. And, because of these experiences, I’m writing about how to handle a texting ex-girlfriend, giving a few quick tips on what you should and shouldn’t do.

Kindly ask her to stop

The first option to do when you have a texting ex is to reply in a stern but fair tone. You’re not giving her a reason to think of you as a jerk by telling her to F off, even though that’s what you really want to do, but you’re not being a pushover by playing the nice guy card, either. If you really don’t have feelings for her anymore, simply say something like, “Not sure why you’re texting, but please stop, it’s unfair to me.” Boom, just like that, you’ve (hopefully) let her know the boundaries are set.

Reply by telling her you’ll be blocking her

The second option for handling a texting ex requires being a little harsher. That’s right, regardless of how the relationship ended, texting something back along the lines of, “Not sure why you’re texting or why you’re still thinking of me, but I’m going to block your number now, so best of luck with everything.” Of course, the other option would be just blocking her number without warning, so it’s really up to you.

Call her

Still not over your ex and think she may be reaching out because she feels the same? If (and only if) this is the case, don’t feel bad about replying with a phone call, simply asking her why she’s texting you and trying to talk things out. Of course, this could backfire if she’s simply texting you to manipulate you into giving her attention, but, if you truly feel like she may want you back, call her. By the end of the talk, the two of you will hopefully come to a conclusion as to what, if any, relationship you can handle.

Don’t reply

Obviously, the simplest way to handle a texting ex would be ignoring it and not doing a damn thing. She sees that her text was delivered (so she’s still not blocked), and she hasn’t heard a peep from you back, so she’ll either take a hint and stop trying in the future, or it may lead to more communication in the future. How you handle the situation and how you feel about her is important — you don’t want to give her the satisfaction of just playing you for the attention, so stay strong and keep your distance if that’s what you want.

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