Everyone has their own way of dealing with their ex when a relationship ends – for some, it's easy to slide back into the friendship that preceded the romance, while for others it's healthier to cut off contact completely, extolling the virtues of the 'no-contact rule'. There may come a point, however – maybe years later – when you feel like sitting back and reflecting on the relationship: what your former partner taught you, what you learned about love, and the nuggets of self-knowledge you gleaned along the way.
In a recent column for the Guardian, agony aunt Mariella Frostrup advised an anonymous man to write a letter of apology to his ex-girlfriend three years after he ended their seven-year relationship. "I’m ashamed of how I treated her and can’t forgive myself," he wrote. "I want to write and apologise, but it sounds weird and inappropriate." Frostrup replied that it would be no such thing.
"We should all be writing letters to our lovers, ex or otherwise; whether it’s just to say hello, to expand on our feelings, because our behaviour has been less than exemplary, or perhaps, as in your case, to say thanks for a union that may be long over but in hindsight appears so much more precious than you realised at the time," she said, advising him to keep it brief, simple and from the heart. In the spirit of soul enhancement, Refinery29 UK asked five women to write to their most significant former flames.