Question: How does one respond when an ex asks how are you? Last night my ex sent me a text at 7 pm with just “How are you?”. I haven’t replied yet. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting him to text me at all let alone ask how I am. I broke up with him 3 weeks ago; I expected him to be upset and not want to ever talk to me again. He is securely attached and I am anxious preoccupied which made me breakup with him several times when he drew boundaries and asked me to respect them.
This last breakup he said he needed space to work on a work project and I insisted that we always spend weekends together. We sent texts back and forth for a while and I broke up with him. I know the breakup was my fault and I tried to get him back but he would not reply to my texts. Now he sends me a text “How are you?”. I need your help on how to respond when an ex asks “how are you?”
Yangki’s Answer: Thank you for being honest about how the break-up was your fault. My guess is that he did not respond to your texts because as he said he needed space to work on a work project. If he’d responded, you’d have most likely continued from where you broke off. Attachment anxiety does that to you, it makes you see rejection when all the other person is asking for is a little breathing space.
When a securely attached person asks “how are you?”, they are just asking how you are. There is no ‘hidden’ message behind it.
An obvious way to respond when an ex asks “How are you?” is “I am fine/doing okay/doing great”. But if you are right that your ex is securely attached, he will appreciate an honest answer. Something like, “I’m doing as best as I can. I hope you’re okay too”.
But with an ex with an anxious attachment or avoidant attachment style, a response to a question as simple as “How are you?” can sometimes make the difference between the beginning of a new relationship and the end of all contact.
If they ask you “How are you?” and you reply that you are doing great; they will take it to mean you are saying that you are happier or better off without them. This is whether you broke up with them or they broke up with you. They’ll think you are sending a message that you do not want them to contact you anymore, and back away.
If you say you are sad or not doing well; they might take it to mean you are still “emotional” about the break-up; and be scared to continue contact. They may reach out again sometime later when they think you are not sad or ’emotional’ anymore. If they are upset or hold resentment for you breaking up with them; they may try to exploit your “emotional state” to try to get back at you for breaking up with them.
Sometimes you just have to go with your instincts and either say, “I am doing great/good/happy” or “I am still hurting/angry/confused” and let things go whatever direction they may.
But if you want an emotionally smarter answer to an ex asking “how are you?”, I suggest replying with something like, “I’m doing as best as I can. I hope you’re okay too”.
One, “I’m doing as best as I can” is an honest answer and accurately describes your current reality. A three-week break-up is fresh, you are probably struggling and doing your best to live day by day, and with a lot of regret and missing your ex. Saying you are doing the best you can truthfully sums up how you are.
Two, it’s a middle of the road answer. It does not say you’re “falling apart without your ex” nor does it say you’re “better off without him”.
It’s import to remember that people with a secure attachment need you to be honest. The are honest in their relationship and find it easier to be with someone who is honest and does not play mind games.