The Washington Post

Carolyn Hax: If you want to do it, does it matter whether it sounds ‘desperate’?


Adapted from recent online discussions.

Hi, Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

My ex-boyfriend and I both agreed upon a no-contact rule when we split so we could both heal and move on. The breakup was amicable enough; we split because he was uncertain about his career path and wanted time to figure out what he wants and if he even wanted a life partner. I’m 30 and desire a family, and he didn’t want to waste my time while he figures those things out.

I think that was a good decision. I’ve moved on emotionally and invested in myself: running, training for a race, taking foreign language lessons, reconnecting with friends, trying to make new ones and planning long weekends visiting new cities.

Now I’d really like to try reconnecting with my ex, not necessarily to reconcile — though I wouldn’t rule it out in the future — but just to re-establish contact as friends.

(Nick Galifianakis/The Washington Post)

I’m not sure how to do it, though. It’s been six months since he and I split. People keep telling me that even an innocent text, e-mail or phone call to say, “Hey, how’s it going, it’s been a while, thought it’d be nice to catch up,” will inevitably come off looking and sounding desperate. What would you recommend?


If you want to be in touch now, then tell him so.

If you want to appear a certain way so as to secure a certain outcome, then think carefully about 1) what you want that outcome to be, 2) why you think appearances are so important to that outcome and 3) what the point is if you can’t just be yourself.

Does it really matter, “looking and sounding desperate”? There are really only two possible outcomes here — yes, he’ll be interested in staying in touch, and no, he won’t be interested. If “desperate” is what he makes of your genuine interest in him, then that will just be one (albeit embarrassing) version of “no.”

Well, one caveat: Another possible outcome is “maybe,” in which he enjoys the attention of your staying in touch without investing anything himself. If you do get in touch, keep your eyes open and your mind aware that he’s the one who wasn’t sure he wanted you in his life.

Dear Carolyn:

Yesterday, I was spending time with friends, including my maid of honor. Without thinking, she asked everyone to check their calendars to make sure they’d be available for my bridal shower.

The problem is that I had not planned on inviting one of the girls present. Am I now obligated to invite her to both shower and wedding?


Sure sounds that way.

Is there any reason it would be terrible to invite this friend? As in, a reason that inviting her would be worse for you than it would be for her to be slapped in the face with a non-invitation? Actually, at this point, it might as well be a disinvitation.

There are few cases where exclusion is better for your soul than inclusion. Unless you are certain this is one of those cases, I strongly advise going the more-the-merrier route.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at



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