Coronavirus anxiety has exes sliding into the DMs

“Will you suck my dick late tonight”

This is a text Caitlin, a woman living in Seattle, received from an ex-hookup last week. Caitlin, who requested to use a different name in this article for privacy reasons, declined because she felt sick; even though , she could not be tested for coronavirus.

When Caitlin said she wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t receive a test, the ex-hookup replied, “I’ll wear a plastic bag.”

Coronavirus anxiety has exes sliding into the DMs

Image: courtesy of caitlin

Coronavirus anxiety has exes sliding into the DMs

Image: courtesy of caitlin

This is a crude example, but it’s just one of many texts from exes that’ve popped up amid the coronavirus. COVID-19, the disease that results from the virus, has ground life to a halt across the world. The lockdowns that pervade countries in Asia and Europe are now coming for the United States, with for the next few weeks and other cities considering following its lead. 

With every aspect of this crisis — how many people will be impacted, how much time it will take to return to normalcy, how normalcy will even look afterwards — up in the air, anxieties are seemingly at an all-time high. Coupled with isolation as people are urged or forced to stay home and , we’ve got a recipe for a cooped-up, bored, and stressed out population.

Which is to say: everyone is horny, and beyond furiously (or mindfully!) masturbating there’s no quick fix. This unique time we’re living in has led to a phenomenon of exes of all stripes coming out of the woodwork.

This unique time we’re living in has led to a phenomenon of exes of all stripes coming out of the woodwork.

Not only is Caitlin one of many people this happened to, but she’s also not the only Seattleite that reached out to me. Jules, a 28-year-old in Seattle who requested using her first-name because she “doesn’t want him [her ex] googling her,” had two exes reach out to her. One, from high school, sent her a handwritten letter and a follow-up text.

Jules was sick the first week of March, so she was quarantined longer than most — and wonders if that’s why she’s more open to these conversations. “He even used nice stationary so I bought stationary to write back,” Jules told me, “now that I’ve finished all of Love is Blind and 90 Day Fiancé I’m invested in this saga.” 

But it’s not just boredom that’s causing exes to resurrect themselves. “It makes a lot of sense to me, because isolation is real,” said Rachel DeAlto, Match’s chief dating expert, “and loneliness is real.”

than previous generations to begin with, and now we’re all stuck in our homes. We want someone to talk to, someone who could relate. “We find ourselves falling back into old patterns for comfort and communication,” DeAlto said in an interview with Mashable. 

When something of this magnitude happens, we have the desire to cling to what we know. Exes may be taking this opportunity to experience — or at least, attempt to experience — the same positive emotions they had when they were in the past relationship. “This person made me feel good at some point,” said DeAlto, describing the mindset people may be in, “and this connection felt good and I’m searching for things that feel good right now when I’m anxious about so much else.”

What’s more is that the stakes are low. There is no pressure to actually make an effort to see someone, because we’re all required to stay home. 

Isolation has apparently been enough to bring up thoughts of long-ago exes. Melissa A Vitale, a 27-year-old publicist living in Brooklyn, said an ex she had not spoken to for six years reached out. 

The ex was apparently just sending a friendly check-in, but Vitale was not buying it. “He was obviously baiting me to ask about him but I refused so it didn’t go on,” Vitale told Mashable. “It was not a good breakup so I had no intention of diving into that simply because he has more time on his hands without work.”

And, unsurprisingly, more recent exes are not afraid to enter the fray either. Abbigail, a woman who lives in Chicago, had an ex from 2019 reach out. 

Coronavirus anxiety has exes sliding into the DMs

Image: courtesy of abbigail

They’d dated from April to September of last year, and while they were in contact in January, Abbigail cut it off again. The ex texted her in the past week, having seen a former workplace of hers was going through layoffs. They had agreed to meet several days later, but neither followed up (and by then, the pressure to stay in had already bubbled up online). “Just gonna let it die,” Abbigail told me. 

Not everyone had their ex contact them. Some people, like 28-year-old Lisa, did the reaching out themselves. Her friends were talking about what shows they were binging now that everyone is inside. One mentioned ‘The Jinx,’ which Lisa watched with her ex. She reached out, and then they made small talk about current events. 

“We still reconnect from time to time,” said the Montreal resident, who requested first-name only for privacy reasons. “Mostly Instagram DMs but for some reason a text seemed appropriate now.”

Further, people from past casual relationships — or even just a few dates — are reaching out. “Not an ex,” 28-year-old Brendan told me, “but a guy I went on three dates with and then he ghosted me for 6 months started texting me again last week.” 

The guy in question is a teacher, and their conversations petered out when the school year kicked in last September. Coincidentally, the teacher texted Brendan the same time as .

“He texted me right before schools were closed,” Brendan said. “Part of me feels like a clown for talking to him again after he ghosted me. But our dates were great and I’ve never had a hard time talking with him.”

coronavirus texting exes

coronavirus texting exes

Image: courtesy of brendan

While the teacher is stuck at home, Brendan was still going in his office and working 60 hours a week when we spoke.

DeAlto believes the urge to reconnect, on either side, is indicative of these uncertain times. “People who aren’t anxious are anxious right now,” she said. When so much is unknown, there is a pull to what you do know — to the past, when everything seemed “normal,” and to the person that you had good times with. That desire to reach out (or answer) is an emotional response to whatever trigger is in front of us, according to DeAlto. We all seem to have the same trigger at the moment: the coronavirus, and everything to do with it. 

But letting nostalgia and the desire for normalcy take over can be detrimental if it results in reconnecting with toxic people. If that is the case, DeAlto suggests having a plan in place for what to do when that desire hits. You can FaceTime a friend, take a walk around the block, do a puzzle — something to take your mind off this toxic ex. 

While we aren’t yet certain when, there will eventually be an end to social distancing and the coronavirus. The anxiety may seem overbearing in this moment, but the choices you make may not be in your best interest in a post-COVID-19 world. Think twice before responding to your ex — or before texting them first. 

Brendan has been keeping up correspondence with the teacher for a week now. “Feels like we picked up where we left off,” he said. “We’ve talked that we will probably see each other once the COVID-19 stuff passes.”

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