During the holiday season, the temptation to reach out to ghosts of exes past is real—after all, ‘tis the season where we find nostalgia (and eggnog, perhaps) taking over. But if you’re going to reach out to an ex, at least do it the right way, which means no more casual “Happy holidays,” “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy New Year” texts.
Sure, sending a two-word text that you could send to anyone seems innocuous. But let’s be honest, messaging a former flame with a cheery greeting is just a sneaky way of sparking up conversation that could lead to a familiar (and comfortable) hook up. It’s a whole lot of naughty disguised as something nice.
I get it. Been there, sent that—plenty of times. These types of texts don’t require you to put yourself on the line, nor do you really stand to be rejected. If they don’t reply to your text, they’re probably a monster (hello, who doesn’t return holiday greeting?!), but at least they aren’t clearly saying they don’t want to see you again. Except here’s the thing. While you think a “Happy holidays” message shows you’re a sweet, caring adult who’s mature enough to wish an ex best wishes for the festive season, in reality, it’s painfully obvious what you’re *actually* doing.
So my Christmas gift to you this year is real talk. Forget the generic holiday text. Just be straight up about what you want.
The last holiday season that I spent single, I found myself at a haunt I used to frequent with one of my exes. He had kissed me for the first time at the stroke of midnight on NYE the year before, and in my bourbon-infused haze, I thought it would be a great idea to send him a DM (I deleted his number from my phone to prevent moments like this to begin with). I told him where I was, because I knew it would prompt the same feeling of nostalgia—and tbh, sexual tension—and then I bluntly asked him to join me for a “nightcap.” He responded immediately saying he was out of the city, but he’d be back home in the new year and we could rendezvous then if I was still interested. I was proud of myself for being direct. And, knowing right away that he wasn’t available meant I was able to be more present at the venue and ended up having a great night with the people I was there with, instead of obsessing over my phone.
The lesson? When you’re explicit with your words and feelings and send a text with a clear question, you can better determine whether an ex is on the same page and potentially get what you’re really looking for out of the situation. If you send a greeting and expect an ex to read your mind and analyze your intentions, you’ll likely be more disappointed than if you didn’t reach out at all.
So, this holiday season, try saying what you mean. Instead of “Happy holidays!” try “Hey—back in town for the holidays and thinking about you. If you’re free, I’d love to meet for a cocktail and catch up.” Before sliding into those DMs with a tell-tale winky face (or eggplant, or peach, or or or) consider, “If you’re down (and still single!) I’d love to get together/hook up/enter choice of activity here.”
These simple swaps can help you take control of the narrative by being clear about your expectations and taking out the guess work on both ends. And if you ask directly, maybe you’ll get what—or rather who—you *really* want this holiday season.