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Amid Quarantine, Exes Have Begun Panic‑Sliding Into DMs

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Mar 18, 2020

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The Covid19 pandemic quarantine often feels like a large social experiment, considering the oddly specific ways people find to cope with being stuck at home. One of these quirks? Ex-partners have begun texting each other in droves, spreading about a potent mix of flattery and confusion, and the internet can’t get enough.

Sangita, 25, felt something similar when her college ex-boyfriend messaged her out of the blue recently to ask if she remembered him. “It was so random,” she said. “I really think he felt like the world is ending and tried to reach out and make amends.” For S.M., 24, reconnecting with her exes the past few days felt more wholesome.”The first person I ever dated reached out in a very sweet way to express gratitude, because our meeting and relationship had helped shape him in some ways and [led him to make] some positive decisions in life.” She added, “My immediate ex and I even did a video call after like three years. It was quite nice, just reconnecting during this time.”

This particular need to reach out to exes stems from want of familiarity and comfort during a time of crisis, according to Safvana Khalid, a psychologist. This tends to occur especially when people are isolated in urban cities, away from friends and family. “When threatening things happen to us, we need to feel free again, and since exes know us on an emotional level, we’re more likely to reach out to them and strike a general conversation like ‘Hey, there’s a quarantine, what’s up’ or something similar, and then it goes on and on,” Khalid said.


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Khalid doesn’t think such reaching out is limited to people who were committed in long-term relationships; she states that it completely depends on the depth or intensity of the relationship, not the length. “If you’ve had a very difficult or tragic break-up, it’s quite [less likely] to reach out to that ex-partner. For exes who have reconciled [in a friendly manner] — it may not be such a barrier.” She also adds that the boundaries set between ex-partners before or after a break-up matter, too — if an ex-partner states that they don’t want contact, even after an amicable break-up, it’d be a lot less likely to either get in touch with them or receive a positive response from them.

One worry that does pop up in this mass reverse ex-odus, is whether people are using a pandemic in order to manipulate their ex-partners into re-connecting with them again. “Right now, the state of things is such that what’s right and wrong in such contexts has taken a backseat in the face of people looking for and providing hope from their loved ones. But, this also depends on how the other person is feeling and what they believe is right for them to do,” Khalid said.

However, Khalid agrees that the coronavirus pandemic has brought about a unique situation in which people are way more likely to respond to those we’ve lost touch with or have had problems with, especially ex-partners.”A lot of people don’t know what the situation is going to be like in the next week. So, they feel like it’s okay — everything is okay. At the end of the day, people might die or [be quite sick], which makes others put aside grudges and make sure people around us are okay.”

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Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is the senior culture writer at The Swaddle, with an interest in cultural analysis, environment, and the science of mental health.  Write to her using aditi@theswaddle.com, or find her on social media @aditimurti.

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