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The Rules of Netiquette -- Recycling an Ex at the Holidays

Here are some tips on how to attend that special holiday event with your former beau or girlfriend and make it a better experience for all involved.
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It arrived in an email 6 weeks in advance -- a request to attend the office holiday party from an ex-boyfriend who was still single. Perhaps he was concerned that if he placed a phone call, a more acceptable form of etiquette, that his request would be declined or the call would not be returned. It was likely that he didn't want to get rejected, so the email was his delivery of choice; a netiquette no-no.

After 6 months apart, he wanted to bring an appropriate guest to his office party who was a known entity. Selecting someone he had dated only once or twice would be too risky. It was time to recycle an ex.

At a time where we are in peak season for breaking up, couples are also reuniting over the holidays. In the last week, three separate singles told me they were giving a former relationship another try. Thoughts of not kissing under the mistletoe led some right back into the arms of a relationship that previously ran its course.

The "Recycling the Ex" phenomenon isn't new, but it's in full swing in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's. Some relationships may stick. Others may be a temporary fix to soothe the holiday blues. Usually you will remember why it didn't work in the first place. Often it's hard to go back.

However, here are some tips on how to attend that special holiday event with your former beau or girlfriend and make it a better experience for all involved.

1. Don't talk about what went wrong. You know the reason you broke up. He or she knows the reason you broke up. There's no need to rehash the past and spend time going down memory lane.

2. Don't talk about your dating history while you were apart. Perhaps one of you had a lusty affair and the other never got over your initial break-up. There's no reason to compare bad date stories or wonder how many people your ex went to bed with.

3. Do keep the conversation light and easy. Just like your initial first dates, remember to leave the drama behind. You might think the familiarity should allow you to accelerate things, but being a "Debbie or Donnie Downer" will turn him or her away faster than you can imagine. Ask about his or her family, how work is going, or talk about the latest accomplishments of your children.

4. Don't try to pick up where you left off. Don't assume your ex wants to get back together long-term. Try and look at this as a new friendship or the beginning of a new relationship that just happened to resurface during the holidays. Don't start planning your future all over again and keep the expectations low.

5. Don't sleep together. Avoid being overly affectionate in public the first time you see each other after a break-up. Unless you really want a "friends with benefits" relationship, don't end up back in bed right away. You may wake up regretting it in the morning with your emotions at an all-time high, wondering where the relationship will go.

If things go well when you reunite over the holidays, keep the communication going. Sending a text message to say that you had a great time, instead of calling the next day, won't win her heart.

Are you recycling an ex at the holidays? If so, feel free to comment.