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You Asked: Should I Pass on Praise to My Ex?

Dear Sugar,

My boyfriend of five years and I broke up (rather awkwardly) last October and it completely shattered my heart. While we were civil and polite immediately after, we haven't spoken much or seen each other for about a year. I've since moved on, and I am confident he has too. Although I'm curious to know how he is, I hadn't really considered any contact until I heard a really nice compliment to him. I was at the local dog park a few days ago and some of the other women there were discussing the math programs at their kids' schools. One woman mentioned what a difference a certain teacher made for her son, and the particular school as well as the way she described him makes me 100 percent confident that she was talking about my ex-beau.

I know how much he loves teaching and acting as a role model to his students so should I write him an email to relay the praise? I want to respect his space and privacy, and my heart, so is this a can of worms I should avoid opening or should I just do it? — Do Good Greta

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Do Good Greta,

I think it's very sweet that you're considering relaying this praise on to your ex, but I just want to make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. If you want to use this as an excuse to get back in touch with him, I highly suggest you weigh the pros and cons before doing so. Ask yourself if you'd be upset if he wasn't happy to hear from you, if he didn't want to rekindle your friendship, and be prepared to have all those sad feelings around your breakup resurface again.

If you wholeheartedly just want to pass along the compliment with no strings attached, do it, I'm sure he'd love to hear it, but if you have an ulterior motive, make sure you think through every angle — you don't want to set yourself up for failure or hurt.


Join The Conversation
bjg007 bjg007 8 years
I agree with bastylefilegirl, if anything just say hi if u wanna take a chance on contacting him again. All that other rigmarole will just sound ridiculous and odd especially to a guy.
mikeperryfitness mikeperryfitness 8 years
Indeed, leave well alone. It would cause more harm than any good that would come from it. Just be happy in the knowledge that he is doing well.
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
The reasoning ( the overhead convo) behind you being prompted to contact him is a little suspect, and frankly borderline creepy! It's obvious that you want to contact him because you are interested in how he is doing which is completely natural it's been 5 years both of you should be over it enough to be civil to each other. However if you don't' have much to say other than I overhead a comment that got me thinking about you ( Which is a completely LIE by the way) then I would suggest you leave it alone. You would be completely better off just dropping him an email and saying "hey just wanted to know how you where doing"
hissing-fauna hissing-fauna 8 years
I can totally understand why you would want to reconnect, on a friendly level. My ex broke up with me over long distance, so it was a couple years before I saw him again and I was engaged and I had moved on. Anyway I wanted to be friends with him, not in the way that we would hang out or anything like that, but just a few facebook comments here and there. Anyway I wrote him a message asking him if he needed any new music from me and it was a friendly little message. But it was awkward and I regret doing it, for one thing I was scared he took it the wrong way, also he took a long time writing back and said very little. Since then I've had absolutely no contact with him. Maybe it's better to just let sleeping dogs lie. While I wish I could be one of those women that's friends with their exes, it seems like a really hard thing to do. really think about it before you do it, you don't want to regret it or worry that he's getting the wrong idea.
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
I pretty much agree with everyone else. It sounds like you are just looking for a reason to contact him...don't do it!!! Even if you do think you just want to be friends again and you are over him, contacting him again would bring up tons of old feelings that you won't expect (yes...even if you do think you are totally over him). So I don't think it's worth it, even to just give a compliment if that's what you truly want to do. I'm sure you have plenty of other friends and people to talk to, leave this alone and continue being ok and moving on.
xopiperxo xopiperxo 8 years
i wouldn't contact him. just leave it alone.
GScott86 GScott86 8 years does kinda sound strange and stalkerish...think about it...some crazy chick or guy you consider your ex (since these things usually end up in, you thinking your ex is a crazy psycho), comes out of nowhere after not talking for awhile and tells you, (like mur laid out) that they used CSI skills to figure out that you were good teacher (and by this I mean, heard compliments and spent lots of time figuring out it was you), then contacted you like you were a suspect. I'd be freaked out. Like "wtf??? this loooney is stalkin me? Leave me alone I'm happy now, and I'm dooin good stuff, and you wanna come bein all weird? Thanks for the compliment, but what're you playing at?" It's just one angle... The other angle is ending up in the sack and not knowing how the hell you got there after the sex just ended.
CYL CYL 8 years
lol mur
reactionary reactionary 8 years
honestly, i would be completely creeped out if my ex emailed me to say he was in the park and overheard people randomly talking and used context clues to discern that the person they were talking about was me. that's just weird.
CYL CYL 8 years
Don't bother....
quitecontrary quitecontrary 8 years
DearSugar, I always have to be careful to read your responses first, because I usually find myself repeating exactly what you say! I think Nikkig99 has it just right. If you really, truly just want to compliment him, pass it on through a mutual friend. I think that everyone in the world could do with a few more compliments, but ones coming from an ex always taste bitter or fishy.
NIkkig99 NIkkig99 8 years
If you really think he would benefit from knowing tell a mutual fried to pass on the good news.
reeeeka reeeeka 8 years
Seems to me that you're just looking for an excuse to speak to him. Really, that's not that important. If they wanted him to know I'm sure it wouldn't be hard to find him at the school he works at too tell him themselves. Why open up that can of worms when you don't need too? Just leave it alone...
Deidre Deidre 8 years
Um, I think that the mom in question is capable of passing on the comment to your ex at a parent-teacher conference. No need to go there again. Regardless of your intentions, he's probably going to think you're trying to open the dating door again. Best to just let the parents and kids pass on the praise themselves.
GScott86 GScott86 8 years
I don't think you're looking so much of an excuse to move on, but you can't just get rid of feelings or love so easily for someone you've been with especially when you've been with them as long as you were, and if your relationship was a good one while you were together. I would agree with others as to not bother, unless you just want to rebuild a bridge of friendship only. I do sense however, that you heard something about someone who could (or could not be) your ex, since you're not 100% sure, so you're a bit excited about the good in him, the part you fell in love with, and well, this could pass off more as a flirt than a subtle compliment. If you don't want to bite into an old apple filled with worms, I would just leave it alone. There hasn't been contact, of any sorts so he obviously moved on from you. You should do the same regardless of what you've heard about it.
psterling psterling 8 years
Even if your intentions are 100% sweet and genuine, allowing him back in to your life will only re-hash old feelings. I'm sure you have plenty of friends, you don't need him to be one of them. Its too hard.
austerity austerity 8 years
I think Dear gave wonderful advice, which I second. Pass on the praise if you know that's all you want to do.
brown_eyed_grrl brown_eyed_grrl 8 years
No. Don't think you're doing this solely to pass along a compliment, if you're being honest with yourself. Besides, what do you plan to say? "Hey, remember me? It's been over a year, but I was at a dog park and I overheard a woman praise a her son's math teacher. She mentioned your school, so I'm pretty sure she meant you. But she didn't SAY your name. So...yea for you!" It's just weird, even if well-intentioned.
ckeller825 ckeller825 8 years
Wow, you should leave it alone. Even though you dated for 5 years, if you take a step back, wouldn't it seem like you're stalking him?
missyd missyd 8 years
Great quesion. No, I dont think you should
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
Since he's an ex you didn't keep in contact with I wouldn't. If he was a friend or former colleague (someone I didn't date) then I would.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
I agree -- No.
sundaygreen sundaygreen 8 years
Let's face facts, you know this is going to bring you guys back in contact with eachother. So, either (a) you're over him and you're ready to be on a friendly level with eachother OR (b) you're not over him, and you want to see what might happen with this 'innocent' little email. If it's (a) - then go right ahead! The fact is it's totally normal to be on friendly terms with an ex and unless he absolutely broke your heart and the mere thought of him makes your lip tremble or the thought of him makes you want to punch a wall - I see no reason why you can't reopen the lines of communication. If it's (b), then forget it and stop trying to make it sound like an great reason to get in touch (aaaaw he helped some kids, how sweet). No!
bluestar bluestar 8 years
I think you're just looking for an excuse to reconnect. You may be 100% sure that they were talking about him, but they never once said his name.
smurfle smurfle 8 years
if you haven't talked to him in a year, he'll probably look at an email from you as attempt to rekindle things... regardless of what the email says. i know if i randomly got an email from an ex i haven't talked to in a year... that's exactly what i would think. then- if he has moved on.. you just wind up looking like you haven't. don't do it.
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