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04th Jan 2022

Text your ex over Christmas, yeah?

Jade Hayden

Text an ex over the Christmas break?

Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one. Plenty of us sat back, relaxed, and immediately messaged someone we haven’t spoken to in approximately six months over the festive season.

So, why do we do it? Is it because we’re lonely? Is it because we’re bored? Is it because Christmas is a time for love, happiness, and reaching out to people who we slept with once two years ago but had always planned to reconnect with some day?

In fact, it’s probably a combination of all three. According to sexologist Logan Levkoff, it makes all the sense in the world that the festive season catapults us straight into a state of wanting what we once had, without realising why it ended in the first place.

He told the Washington Post: “The holidays put us in this fantasy-like trance where we think everything is so blissful. If we’re not exactly thrilled with where we are romantically speaking at the moment, we go through these moments of feeling, wow, that’s what I was missing.”

There’s every chance that the likely increase in alcohol consumption has a little something to do with it too. The majority of drinkers increase their alcohol intake over the festive period, and so they’re likely to increase their alcohol-based behaviours – like texting exes, messaging old flames, and unnecessarily responding to just about everybody’s Instagram Story with the clap-hands emoji.

For some, the tentative message ends in a pleasant chat, a brief catch-up that wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for the Christmastime notions that appeared with that first sip of festive mimosa. For others, it leads to an awkward exchange that easily could have been avoided had the need for validation not been so strong.

Although some people may end up reigniting an old flame – or even an old relationship – via a Christmastime text, for many it ends up being just that: a couple of messages and nothing more.

And as it turns out, there’s even a name for that. ‘Marleying’ – the act of texting an ex after an extended period of time over the holidays with no intention of starting anything up again simply because you’re bored.

The term was coined a few years back by eHarmony and takes its moniker from Jacob Marley’s character in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Because your ex is a ghost who reappears again over Christmas. Get it?

Back in 2017, the dating site found that 11 percent of single people in the UK had been Marleyed (with eight people admitting to partaking in some Marleying themselves), but in this fresh hellscape that we call 2022, chances are the numbers are much, much higher.

What’s more is that we also tend to text exes in times of turmoil, stress, or major life changes. It doesn’t have to be the festive season, filled with 87 cocktail sausages, prosecco at 11am, and Top of the Pops blaring in the background – the comfort and familiarity of messaging someone you used to date can also have its benefits when you’re feeling just a bit out of sorts.

How many times has a major life event happened to you (a new job, a quit job, a new house, a sudden loss, a sudden bout of Covid), and you’ve instantly reached for your phone to message someone who you once dated?

They meant a lot to you, once. They were probably there for you, they knew the right thing to say. It makes sense that we crave that notable past comfort – and even the distraction it brings – when faced with change or adversity.

But what to do now? Now that the chat has gone dry (again), there’s nothing left to say (again), and you’re remembering why you stopped talking in the first place (again)? If the above is anything to go by, just leave it. You’ve had your say… until next year, that is.

If you’re in a small minority of people, you may have just rekindled something beautiful and exciting. But if you’re not, doing feel too bad about it.

There’s no shame in feeling lonely, bored, or like you want to start something again that probably ended for a reason. Similarly, there’s no shame in hitting up someone you went on two lacklustre dates with who had zero chat to see if they’ve changed.

They probably haven’t, but hey, how else are you supposed t0 find out?