Lockdown has given the nation a lot more time on their hands – which is both a blessing and a curse.
While some people are using the extra hours to learn a new skill, start a new hobby or declutter their houses, others have been using the time to reflect on their own lives.
In some cases, this overthinking (coupled with the loneliness of lockdown) has led to people delving into past relationships and assessing what went wrong.
Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, says: ‘During such uncertain times, we’re likely to be feeling very vulnerable. So it’s understandable that we might feel a longing to reconnect with someone we were once close to.
‘This can be heightened by any feelings of loss or loneliness we’re experiencing at the moment.’
But is it right to message an ex partner at this time?
For those tempted, we’ve asked relationship experts for their advice.
Think about the pros and cons of messaging
Dr Elena says it’s important to evaluate the pros and cons of getting back in touch with an ex – in regards to both the short-term and long-term consequences – and assess whether it’s likely to cause further psychological damage.
She said: ‘As tempting as it might be, you want to avoid putting yourself in a situation that is going to make things more upsetting and difficult for you in the long-term.
‘If the relationship was complex and challenging the first time around, I would encourage someone to think carefully about whether this is a positive move for them during an already vulnerable time.’
Be aware of rose-tinted glasses
Lockdown can be pretty isolating, so it’s easy to reminisce about happier times with others.
Relationship coach Carole Ann Rice says: ‘We have much more time to think about things and quite often we forget the emotions both negative and positive around situations from the past.’
At a time like this, it’s easy to become nostalgic for times gone by, as a way of coping (just look at how we’ve been turning the throwback photos).
Carole adds: ‘When this happens you should proceed with caution because you are looking back with nostalgic rose-tinted glasses – there were reasons why the relationship didn’t work.’
Relationship expert and CEO of The Love Company Lara Asprey agrees that it’s important to remember why a relationship failed, instead of solely focussing on the good times.
She says: ‘We have a tendency in times of crisis to only remember the good times, it’s human nature to strive for a positive spin when things get tough.’
Take quarantine out the equation
The global pandemic has made us realise that we can’t take loved ones for granted, but Lara says to think about whether an ex would still be on your mind if lockdown wasn’t taking place.
She says: ‘If you wouldn’t have messaged them under normal circumstances you need to question why you would message them now.
‘Is it to feel valued, a connection, or just to fill the loneliness void and spark some excitement into your life? We all want human interaction but it’s better to seek it through friends and loved ones.
‘We must seek to invest into those who invest into us, and not pay into a bottomless well that you have fallen into before.’
Remind yourself why they are your ex
Psychotherapist and author Neil Wilkie says that while emotions are running high at the moment, it’s important not to lose sight of the reason you’re no longer together.
Neil encourages people to really think about the reasons behind their breakups and whether an old relationship would be the same now.
He says: ‘If you met your ex today as a complete stranger would you be attracted to them and want to start a relationship with them?’
This should help put things in perspective.
Focus on what sort of relationship you want in the future
Time feels like it’s standing still at the moment, so it’s easy to delve into the past – but Neil advises us to push forward.
He says: ‘This is an opportunity to create your ideal future relationship, not to replay old dreams.
‘A great way of getting clarity on this can be to get a large piece of paper and some coloured pens. Let the thoughts and feelings flow and draw a representation of what your ideal future relationship will be.’
Acknowledge we are all craving familiarity
During these uncertain times, it’s easy to want to stick to what we know – but this doesn’t necessarily mean reverting back to an old flame.
Lara adds: ‘People, on the whole, are seeking more connections and connectivity at the moment.’
So it makes sense that many of us want to turn to people we have already had these connections with, rather than potential new partners.
She adds: ‘Many are more keen to connect with someone they are familiar with and who they know well.
‘Familiarity is comforting and at the moment we crave feeling comfortable.’
She says it’s important to realise that it’s probably the familiarity you’re craving, rather than the individual.
Text a friend instead
Neil says: ‘If it’s loneliness that is making you feel like texting your ex, you’re likely to get a better response from a friend -maybe someone that you haven’t been in touch with for some time.
‘If it is nostalgia that is driving you, just reflect on happy memories from the past. You can access all of these without having to involve your ex and the complications that may ensue.
Relationship expert Lemarc Thomas agrees the emotional connection we crave at this time can be found in friends and family instead.
He says: ‘In the vast majority of cases, you are texting your ex because you are lonely or bored, upset and wanting answers, feeling down on yourself and seeking affirmation.
‘It’s usually fulfilling an immediate need rather than your true long term needs.’