ASK SYBD: “Should I Send a Card?”

Birthday Cards
Birthday Cards

To send or not to send a card…That is the question. This could be birthday, Christmas, Condolence, Good Luck – whatever card – the principle’s the same.

Man, do I wish I had a pound for every time this question, in all its variations, has been asked on SYBD in the last decade. I swear I’d be a millionaire by now…

That “to send or not to send” question  manages to polarise the members of this community every time it comes up. It tends to illicit many valuable responses and I can, as ever, see both sides.

Like with the question “can exes be friends” – my response is always “it depends”. So much of whether you should send a card or not depends on the relationship itself, the break up and how things came to an end and when.

There are many people keen to quick to chime in – “no way, why would you want to send a card to someone who broke your heart?” and I can appreciate that question.

There are also people who will say “my ex didn’t send me a card on my birthday” or whatever. I can appreciate that sentiment too.

Me, I’m a sender,…regardless. You might say that I am one for practicing the Golden Rule – so I would always acknowledge a birthday or special occasion – well, almost always.

…Even if it’s just a simple text saying “Happy Birthday” or an email expressing that.

A handful of years ago, I broke up with a guy whose birthday was soon after. I didn’t acknowledge him on the day (even though I thought of him non-stop on the day)…but a month later, when my birthday came around, he emailed me a sweet birthday greeting…Geez, I felt like a heel.

Ever since then neither of us miss sending each other a birthday email or sometimes card. Christmas too.

Again, it really depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of split you have had and how the other person is too.

If you were really treated badly, lied to, cheated on, etc…then you may not want to bother – which is of course quite rightly so…but if you genuinely still care for the other person – and a lot of us post-split do still care (regardless of whether we’re the dumper or dumpee) then you may wish to extend a common courtesy.

What type of person are you? What type of person are they? Will it be appreciated? What if it’s ignored? Would you do the same for any other friend? Are yo breaking No Contact to do it? Do you know what your motivation is on sending a card? Are you hoping for a response or even reconcilation?

All valid questions worth asking yourself.

Personally, I am a fan of birthdays, and I do like to make things special for people as much as I can…so ergo I’d tend acknowledge them in some way – even if just a text with a simple “have a great day”.

What if the person’s moved on to someone new already?

Maybe in this case it might be better to ignore it or just send a simple text or email saying “happy birthday” (or whatever). No fanfare. No big to-dos.

Whenever this subject comes up, as I’ve said before (and it does a lot) the responses that say “no way” to me tend to come from people who are projecting their own break ups and issues into the situation.

For the people who were lied to and cheated on or treated badly in some way – of course the answer would be “no way Jose”….

But our relationships and our break ups are unique to us. I’ve personally (thankfully) never had a break up so heinous that I never wanted to hear from the guy again. Well maybe once back in ’99 – that one came two weeks before my 32 birthday. He called me on the day to discuss house stuff – but never acknowledged my birthday – at least not to my recollection…which was a tad annoying – but hey “water”, “bridge”, “under” now…

I have a recent blog post Ego vs Love – What would love do – maybe that will offer a bit more advice for you? My ego is kicked to the curb and I just try to live by the Golden Rule as I said.

I remind myself often that I have no control how anyone else thinks, feels, acts toward me – only how I choose to interpret and how I choose to act toward them.

Ego would say “don’t sent a card, s/he’s your ex, you can’t show that you still care about him/her” and Love says “love just keep on loving – regardless if the person loves you back in the same way” and regardless if you receive/d a card from them! The  other blog says it better, I hope…

But basically if you’re gonna be mad they didn’t acknowledge it or if they don’t send you on – you probably shouldn’t bother. If you’re expecting a miracle with the card – you probably shouldn’t bother. If you even have any expectation – even a simple ‘thank you’ – then you probably shouldn’t bother.

At the end of the day it comes down to you and your own gut feeling about it. Only you know you, and you know the ex, you know how you were treated or how you treated them – so it really is a judgmental call.

I can tell you my cards/notes weren’t always replied to or even acknowledged – but it hasn’t made a difference to my life one way or the other. If you can give without expectation – then I’d always urge to give because what we give out comes back to us – often tenfold. You may not get something back from your ex but you’ll get something back from someone, somewhere. It’s how the universe works. That lesson and silencing my ego – has led me to a much more peaceful and joyous life.

Trust your instinct – that’s the bottom line. In my experience of a decade of the Dumped – I can honestly say it probably won’t make or break your situation either way. In the best case scenario – it may bridge a gap or lead to some positive dialogue and in the worst – it may cause a setback. In both cases you’ll be fine either way. Do what feels right to you – and only you. That’s my final answer.

Actually, not my final answer, if I could offer one piece of small advice – don’t make this be about you and your feelings – keep it brief, keep is positive and keep it about the situation at hand – birthday, Christmas, Good Luck etc. This is probably not the time to pour out your soul. This is about the other person’s day. That’s my advice – and yours to take it or leave it.

If you’re a giver, then keep on giving regardless of what your ego may tell you. Remember it may not be acknowledged or appreciated – but that doesn’t discount your act of kindness. It will come back to you in some way – just don’t get hung up on the way it comes back to you. Trust that it will.

Have a great day.

PS: Will add member’s comments to this blog or create as a separate blog because there were some very good responses to this dilemma!

13 thoughts on “ASK SYBD: “Should I Send a Card?”

  • June 20, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    My answer is YES. In my case today I sent him a birthday e-mail. He dumped me out of the blue and broke my heart brutally; but I still love him and want the best for him.One year since the last time I saw him, he left me for another woman, at the time was unbearable but with time I saw many things I think I did wrong(also I see things he did wrong), but I learnt from the relation and I guess he also learnt. In a way we helped each other. Although the end it is not the one I want, I still love him and thanks him for the great time we spent together.I think life is like that: we have to take enjoy the things while we have them and let them go when is time although is heartbreaking.. So why don´t say Happy birthday!

  • March 12, 2012 at 11:35 PM

    I dumped my ex at the end of 2006. Nearly a year later, he sent me a very sweet happy birthday email, even though we hadn’t been in touch. Although I didn’t respond to it – I truly appreciated the gesture.

    I just got dumped 2 weeks ago now, and am debating whether or not to send a card at the end of the month on his birthday. I think I will. I like acknowledging friends birthdays, and even if he doesn’t appreciate it (which most people do), I will be the bigger person and send it anyways.

  • March 14, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Well why not really? I mean is it actually going to make/break anything? Not likely. If it doesn’t, it often doesn’t permanently anyway. I go with my gut and if the person was a genuinely good/kind/respectful person then even if I was hurt by the ending I’d send a card (or text or email – what have you).

    It’s kind of the Golden Rule…We treat others how we wish to be treated. With respect. With kindness.

    So why not? 😉 x

  • October 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    What if the man you were dumped for is a charmer and twelve years older, you took her for granted but love her. She sais she still had feelings for you and sent you a text on Christmas morning and a birthday card and said unbelievable things like ‘if it does not work out with him I will loose you’. After alomosy a year I am thinking do I send a birthday card to open the door a crack. Because I still want her. I removed her from phone because I sent a few nice texts that upset her and she phoned me to ask me not to. Why phone? And when I removed her from my phone and tole her I would not bother her again, she text back saying i don’t have to do this. Now do I send a card?

  • October 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    That is a tough call M. She asked you not to contact her last – is that correct? So you removed her from your phone? She is with someone else now or do you know? Can you send a card without ANY expectation of a response? Or for her to reply rudely “I asked you not to contact me – can’t you take a hint?”

    She might not of course reply like that. She may be DELIGHTED to hear from you but I’d want you to be “prepared for the worst” – if you see what I mean.

    If you can reach out with well wishes and no expectation then go for it. If you’ll be hurt by a rude response or NO response – I’d leave it.

    Wish her well mentally in any case! If you guys ended on OK terms – and it’s been almost a year – she’d likely be appreciative of you remembering her.

    But it might not lead to reconciliation so ask yourself what is your INTENTION with this card?

    Maybe you could RING and just say “I wanted to wish you a happy birthday, that’s it”. Nothing more nothing less (especially if you get voicemail!) 🙂

    Good luck – let me know what you decide!

  • October 3, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    See said she did not mind me sending a text to say how are you, or stopping to talk to me on the street. She just did not want a txt that upset her. I removed her from my phone because I did not trust myself not to send another nice txt which would upset her. It was left with her last text saying that I did not have to remove her from my phone. If I could tell you how upset she was when she ended it, honestly, you would not believe me. Part of me wants to send a card, because we were good friends first -even though she wanted more- and I seriously care about her, but of course the other side of me wants to take her back for the very best of reasons. If I don’t send a card I know that she will be hurt but if I do, I know that I will not be able to just put regards on it. I will be asking her to think again, which is not what birthday cards are for. She is seeing someone who over ten years older with a salesman’s charm at a difficult age for women -if you understand -. When you care for someone as well as love them, simple decisions like sending a card for not, are not easy. I will let you know my decision.

  • December 21, 2015 at 1:15 AM

    I’m glad to be reading these submissions.
    My ex dumped me about 5 months ago , just 2 months before we were to get married. He moved out while I was at work and never contacted me again except to say he was getting the remaining things. The other day I came home , checked my mail and was surprised that he sent me a Christmas card. He didn’t write anything in it but his bake.
    Of course, a major part of me was wondering why he sent it. Another part of me was disappointed he didn’t write anything.
    I’m just trying to cope with the list of what I thought I had. Mots not easy so I try to see if this has happened to anyone else.
    Good luck to you all, thanks for sharing.
    If someone has advice for me , I’d be pleased to hear it…. Getting better , but still hurting.

  • March 15, 2016 at 8:12 PM

    How do I send a birthday and sympathy card to the same person? Her aunt passed the same day as my friends birthday. Do I sent two different cards on the same day or?????
    Thank you,

  • March 16, 2016 at 5:45 PM

    That’s an excellent question. Why not send a general, blank card…and say that you’re thinking of the person and you want to wish her a Happy Birthday at this challenging time. Mention how the aunt would want her to celebrate both lives? Or something to that effect. Or you could send two sure…

  • September 30, 2016 at 12:44 PM

    HI, Like many here I am in the same boat. She dumped me about 5 weeks ago after 6 years. She made it a nasty break and I didn’t. For the last few weeks I would get angry text’s from her, as well as a call and one meeting. I have such mixed feelings if I should send her a card next week for her Bday. One voice is saying… stay with the NC on my side caused I asked her to leave me alone with the nasty messages. The other side says… that I still love and care for her. What should I do?

  • March 30, 2017 at 12:54 PM

    Long story short, I broke the no contact rule by posting something on Facebook and she got scared and blocked me. I want to send a birthday card to her on her birthday. Just a birthday card nothing more or less. It has been over 3 weeks since we talked and will be over a month before her birthday since we broke up. So my question is, I screwed up. I didn’t think it would scare her and now just want to do something thoughtful. Your thoughts?

  • March 30, 2017 at 2:52 PM

    I don’t really understand the whole “she got scared” thing…Can you elaborate?

    I understand about blocking people, sometimes we need to do that to heal…and when the time is right we “unblock”. If you’re blocked then I’d think to myself “what do I hope to achieve by sending this?” If you have any expectations – for a response for getting her back etc then I’d say not do it. If you can do it unconditionally to wish her well and nothing more, then go for it. Most people can’t do that though. They’re doing it because they want to be seen as a good person, remind the ex of how fab they are, essentially they make it about themselves and not simply to genuinely wish another well. PS: It’s an exes birthday and I sent a text saying “Happy birthday” because I had no expectations whatsoever of a reply. You I sense would be hoping for something….Am I wrong? Thea

  • December 24, 2017 at 2:17 PM

    I sent a card to my ex to say thanks for time spent and to wish a merry christmas and best wishes for next yr.
    I’m not expecting any acknowledgement but it was a special time and it ran its course and we both got out before too much damage was done. I do love her very much but she has a very cold side to her that I can’t deal with. I need warm people around me, I’d never tell her that but I’m sure she knows it.

    It’s taken me a long time to learn how to detach with love and it’s a great way to be. Had a sore few months and cried at times but I never burdened her with that and she never contacted me. Now I can send a simple card with no strings attached. Could never do that when I was younger.

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