What Is Your Motive?

I was having a conversation with a friend recently about whether it’s ever okay to reach out to an ex. In her case, she and the ex had had a very bad breakup, but she had been close to the ex’s mother, and she found out that the mother was sick. My friend genuinely just wanted to express her sympathies.

So this led into a whole other conversation about my thought process last year when the singer Chris Cornell passed away. My ex-husband had been friends with Chris, and had a great musical relationship with him. So when I heard about Chris’s passing, I seriously considered reaching out. However, every single message I came up with started, “I’m sure you don’t want to hear from me, but…”

And that had me thinking. If I was *that* sure that Ex didn’t want to hear from me, why was I reaching out? Even though all I wanted to do was express my sympathies, would Ex resent hearing from me at all? And if my only motive really was to say how sorry I was, couldn’t I send him that energy without intruding on his life? Was my motive to express my sympathy, to show that I was a kind and caring person, or to show that, on some level, I still cared for him?

I wasn’t able to give my friend a concrete path to take. However, we came to the decision (*we, as if it was my decision anyway!) that she should send flowers to the mother. My friend decided that this really wasn’t about her ex; she just wanted to let the ex’s mother know she was thinking of her. By stepping back and really looking at why she wanted to reach out, she realized that the person she needed to reach out to wasn’t the ex at all.

I’ve reached out to exes before for a variety of reasons, and most of them have been purely selfish – I wanted them back in my life, either as boyfriends or friends. I’ve been really, really lucky in that none of the exes have reacted poorly to me reaching out. It’s always been a positive experience, and in some cases, it brought me some much needed closure and/or answers that have helped me to move on. But again, that’s about me and about what I wanted.

I still don’t have a definitive answer here. The best I can do going forward is look at my motives, and see if they really serve the higher good. I think that’s the best any of us can do.

– Finch

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