Your phone lights up and you quickly glance up from your laptop where you're binge‐watching the newest season of Orange Is The New Black. Expecting to see the fifth text from your mom that day, you think you've misread your screen when your not-so-forgotten ex's name appears (or their phone number that you deleted for dramatic closure but still have memorized).
Unwanted or not, there they are. Your ex has re-entered your life - on your phone, right next to you, no way to evade. Maybe they're a past hook‐up or perhaps they are your long-lost high school sweetheart. Whatever the case may be, the relationship ended for a reason. But now, here they are again.
I've recently received a text from a past flame, and I was flooded with a dizzying amount of thoughts. I began to question (with a bit of worry) whether other people get as flustered as I do when this happens. As it seems, we go through seven stages when receiving an unsolicited message from an ex.
Stage One: Shock
Your body freezes and you let out an audible "OMG." You may even pause Orange is the New Black. Staring at the screen for a minute, you immediately reach for your phone. As your thumb begins to glide over the glass to unlock it, you remember your "Read" receipts are on and you don't want to be that desperate person who has their phone on them 24/7. You gently put it down, careful to not accidentally open it. Instead, you decide to stalk their Instagram photos in the meantime to see if they happened to have posted any photos with someone more attractive than you in the past 34 weeks. After five minutes of analyzing every picture, you decide sufficient time has passed and you can see what they wrote.
Stage Two: Annoyance
The five minutes are up and you are dying to see what the hell they said. In those 300 seconds, you've come up with a wide range of possible text messages that could be awaiting you. A fairytale "I can't live without you message," or the "I miss you" or maybe the "Can you please stop poking me on Facebook?" text. Desperate to find out which one it is, you open the message.
Your cheeks redden and you're immediately angry.
Stage Three: Analysis
You've had a few moments to collect yourself and calm down (and call every single one of your friends to tell them the massive, earth-‐shattering news). You begin to think: What does this mean? Is it a friendly "hey" in which they just left out an exclamation point? Or an, I'm‐bored‐with-no one-else-to-talk-to "hey?"
Stage Four: Doubt
Once you've reached your decision on what this text means, you immediately think you're wrong. No, that can't be right. There's no way he wants to grab a drink and get back together. He surely wants to tell me he has crabs and I should get checked or that he has fallen ill to a deadly disease and he wanted to say one last, heartfelt goodbye.
Stage Five: Abstinence
You conclude that you have no idea what the hell this text means and become angry again, swearing off men in the future. After deleting your Tinder account, you tell yourself to remember this frustrating moment so you never have to go through it again.
Stage Six: Decision‐Making Time
The time has come when you have to make a decision. Do you respond? What do you say? How long do you wait? There are so many variables that need excruciatingly careful calculation. Your response options:
Hey? - Showing you moved on months ago and don't know why they are texting you.
Hey! - Aw, that's so nice that you are reaching out. I'm doing super well and am forsure mature enough to have a friendly conversation.
Hi - I hate you and really don't want to talk to you right now but will respond just to be nice.
New number who dis? - I'm so moved on that I deleted your number ages ago.
No Response - I'm far too busy with way more important things like finishing the new OITNB season and choosing the right Instagram filter, and really don't have time to deal with this.
Stage Seven: Regret
You decide on a response and send it. When you see it's been delivered, you instantly regret your decision. Why did I not include the exclamation point? I should have just said "hi." Or, Did I read the situation right?
After you realize there's nothing more you can do, you decide you're going to be one of those people who doesn't care about technology and only uses it once or twice a day.
Thirty minutes later with no response back, you decide it's been long enough and you go check their Facebook.