Welcome to our advice column where our editors offer thoughtful answers to your pressing inquiries. Head here to submit an anonymous question, and follow here for new Good Questions.

“I’ve thought about contacting my ex during this time as I’ve felt worried about him and his elderly parents. We haven’t spoken in 10 months and the last time we talked, I felt he was dismissive and rude. Given that we never really ‘resolved’ our last conversation, I’m wondering about whether I’m in a position to reach out. I care/d deeply for this person and I am thinking about him, so is it wrong to let him know that? Life seems very fragile right now, but I’m not sure about whether I’m using this as an excuse to find an inroad back to something that clearly is now over.”

I don’t think you should contact your ex. Sorry to put it so plainly, but it sounds to me like you’re reaching for memories as a way to comfort yourself in the present moment. I do this too, especially in times of chaos or whenever life is feeling extra fragile.

Sometimes, when the present feels uncomfortable and the future is unknown, history has a way of dressing itself in romance and allure. We wish for what was, for the certainties and securities we once had and felt. Perhaps we don’t feel safe or sure any longer, and that scares us. We can become nostalgic. We reach into the past and linger there, replaying conversations and wishing for do-overs.

We wish for what was, for the certainties and securities we once had and felt.

Maybe this highlights a need for control. All of us want it right now, and it’s manifesting itself in different ways. In your situation, it seems this old relationship is on your mind because you believe it unresolved. I wonder if you view this as an opportunity to take action and fix something? Perhaps by reaching out to your ex, you hope to resolve that last conversation? I’d encourage you to wade through these questions and ask yourself what resolution you’re truly after. Many of us are feeling an urgent and subconscious need to be in control of something in our lives since we can’t control anything else. 

I believe this illuminates something beautiful, too: a longing for what “used to be” as a way to reconcile with the current state of the world. Consider that you’re subconsciously clinging to old feelings because they feel safe and secure. You don’t miss your ex; you miss a safer world. You’re grieving for it. All of us are. 

Light a candle, say a prayer, or send a good thought in their direction.

Finally, I don’t want to discount your genuine concern for your ex’s parents. It seems you cared deeply for him, as well as his parents. Lean into these feelings; they are valid and real and beautiful. But you can feel them without taking action. Rest in this: Your ex’s parents are likely in good hands. He is there for them, and they don’t need you—and that’s okay. Instead, focus your energy on mourning the losses that need to be mourned and grieving for what was. Light a candle, say a prayer, or send a good thought in their direction. And then move forward.

Trust that the relationship ended just as it was supposed to. Now is the time to sit in the present, to dream of the future, and to learn from the past.

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Kayti Christian (she/her) is an Editor at The Good Trade. Growing up beneath the evergreens in the Sierra Nevadas, she returns to California after a decade split between states—including three years lived abroad. With an MA in Nonfiction Writing, she’s passionate about storytelling and fantastic content, especially as it relates to mental health, feminism, and sexuality. When not in-studio, she’s camping, reading memoir, or advocating for the Oxford comma.