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7 Do's & 7 Don't's of Lost Love Etiquette

Contacting a lost love.

Key points

  • When a person receives a note from a lost love, they have not had time to prepare, so it's best if the note is short and light.
  • Returning correspondence to a lost love right away only puts pressure on them to do the same.
  • It's good to think about the desired outcome when reconnecting with a lost love — and best not to try unless one is single.

So you want to contact a lost love? In my 16 years of experience working with men and women who have tried rekindled romances, I learned that there are some approaches that work better than others — and some that don't work at all.

So to begin, here are some useful ideas to keep in mind when you make that reconnection:

The Seven Don'ts:

  1. Don't immediately talk about how you always loved the person and hope you can get together again. You will probably scare the person away.
  2. Don't pry with lots of personal questions. Let the person share at a speed that's comfortable for them.
  3. Don't complain about your current or ex- romantic partners/spouse.
  4. Don't say anything bad about your lost love's family.
  5. As an initial contact, do not call. Email an office address (not a home), or contact privately through a social media site.
  6. If your lost love backs away after an exchange or two, don't pester. Trust that the person will return. And don't expect too much too soon.
  7. If there is no reply at all, don't assume. Your lost love may have feelings for you, but may be married and want to protect the marriage from those feelings. Your lost love may instinctively know, "Don't go there." Let it go. Some people who contact me say they are shocked that their lost loves accused them of stalking: unwanted, compulsive contact will not help you to reunite.

The Seven Dos:

  1. Keep the first email light. You've had time to think about writing and you have chosen a time that works for you. But this is going to hit your lost love out of the blue. Just say "hi, how are you? I've thought about you over the years. If you want to write, I'd like to hear from you." End.
  2. Talk about the past first, the fun times, but not the emotions of your early romance. Leave that for later.
  3. Talk about the in-between years: your education and career, marriage/divorce and children, how your parents are doing (if your lost love knew them), what you enjoy doing for fun. If you are writing through a social media site, they will know all this already, but it's nice to write personally about it to your lost love anyway.
  4. In a later letter, explore why you separated. Give apologies as needed.
  5. Keep your obsession under control and out of sight. Write to a friend, not to your lost love compulsively.
  6. Alternate contact. You will be tempted to fire off a barrage of emails, but wait to hear from your lost love before you write again. This will be difficult. Do it anyway.
  7. Do not reply within the first few minutes of getting each response. I am not suggesting this as "game playing"; you just don't want to respond instantly because it puts pressure on your lost love to do likewise. Not everyone has time to write every day (or several times a day). And if your lost love feels that he/she can't please you, the person might back away.

And before you begin, write down some things to think about:

Think about what you want from this reconnection, rather than going blindly forward. Look around the corners at all the possibilities. Can you handle any of the scenarios that might result from your contact? Is there a possible outcome that would be unacceptable to you, or very difficult? How would you handle that? Will you tell your significant other about your lost love before you make contact? If not, why not? [If you are married, I always recommend not making contact at all... please read my other blog posts and my website to see why.] Wait a few days, then follow your heart... and your head.

Copyright 2011 by Nancy Kalish, Ph.D.