We all felt the pain of Chelsy Davy sitting in the church during her ex, Prince Harry’s wedding. It probably took all her courage to show up, knowing there’d be cameras, to support his marriage to Meghan Markle. She attended the lunchtime reception afterwards (but was not invited to the evening bash), and was reportedly sweet to the new Duchess of Sussex, greeting her with a hug.
But it took a phone call beforehand to get some closure. A family friend told Vanity Fair that Chelsy spoke to Harry in “a tearful phone call” in the week leading up to the wedding, and the two acknowledged they were headed for permanent, separate lives. “It was their final call, a parting call in which they both acknowledged Harry was moving on. Chelsy was quite emotional about it all, she was in tears and almost didn’t go to the wedding. In the end, she went and promised Harry she wouldn’t try and gatecrash the party,” VF reported.
It was mature of Harry and Meghan to invite Chelsy, and for Meghan to understand that sometimes you just need some final words with an ex before you spend the rest of your life together (hopefully). Harry and Chelsy dated on and off for seven years, it’s understandable there’d be some things to say.
But what’s appropriate?
“I don’t recommend that exes be invited — especially on the heels of a breakup or ‘closure call.’ It creates a distraction from the wedding,” Masini says. “It creates emotional pressure on all parties involved — including the new spouse. And it’s unnecessary. However, in rare cases where all parties have moved on and are even remarried to others, or when there are shared children involved and there is a healthy relationship with good feelings and support of the new couple marrying, it’s okay. But those situations are few and far between.”
Masini reminds us that remaining friendly with exes has a lot to do with how healthy and how comfortable everyone involved is — not just the two exes.
“That’s not just you and your ex — it’s your new partner, your ex’s new partner, any kids involved, etc. You and your ex may be fine, but if staying friendly with that ex creates problems in your new relationship, choose. Wisely,” she says. “If you’re more committed to a friendship with an ex than you are to a new spouse, you may not have been ready to marry.”
As for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle…
“Prince Harry felt that either he and/or Chelsy needed closure, and so he picked up the phone to make it official,” Masini says. “His relationship with Chelsy was said to have been on again-off again for seven years. Given that length and amorphous structure to the relationship, he did the right thing. He didn’t want to continue a relationship with Chelsy, that might have been misconstrued on her part or on his part, so he gave her (and himself) the respect and courtesy of a proper ending. As to whether it was his idea to make that call, or Meghan's idea for him to make that call, is between them.”
Harry did a gentlemanly thing, but a week before the wedding is just too close to the big day to make a call like that, Masini says.
“The problem with the proper ending he gave her was his timing. He may have been feeling like he was doing the honorable thing and the right thing, by officially closing out one chapter of his life on the eve of his future as a husband — but if he truly did make that phone call ending the relationship [that close] to his wedding, there is now the wonder on the part of the public about how much overlap there was between his dating his new wife and his ex-girlfriend. These things happen and it doesn’t mean that anyone is wrong — but it’s titillating to the public. The question on everyone’s mind is — why didn’t he do this sooner — like when he got engaged, or when he and Meghan Markle got serious in their dating process?”
Psychology Today advises not contacting your ex at all, saying that in situations that remind us of that loss, the emotions come charging back at us.
“Yes, we go on with our lives, but we are a developmental whole and an event, and the feelings surrounding the event, can cycle back. The past is not lost as long as we have our memories,” Psychology Today says.
“Seeking closure by contacting a lost love will typically fail. It adds new information, and this additional information now has to be dealt with, too — the opposite of the sought-after closure. And, even if you learn that the person is not right for you, you will still feel the old emotions for the person as he/she was during the initial romance…So is healing and moving forward possible? Yes. But the healing must come from within; you do not need to contact the lost love for this to happen, nor is it desirable to contact a lost love if a complete ending is what you are after. The events and feelings of the past can best be worked through, on your own, with a professional psychologist who understands lost love issues — someone who will not tell you to find the person for closure.”
What if you're the one who's getting the call from your ex? They're getting married and they surprise you with a phone call wanting closure. Oh boy. If you do pick up, what on earth do you say?
New York City-based marriage and family therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship, Dr. Jane Greer, says there are a few factors to take into consideration.
"Depending on how the relationship ended, if it was on amiable terms or not, and how long it’s been since you least heard from them would factor in," she says. "If it ended mutually, amiably, but the relationship is over and done, if they want to call to congratulate you or whatever, then you can be warm and acknowledging. Do a quick inventory and that’s it."
However, if things ended badly, Greer says, "I'd question whether it would be wise to take that call at all so that you don’t reengage with that negativity."
"It would be probably wiser to not engage at that point because you don’t want to open a can of worms when things are finally closed."
And if you were the one left with bad feelings, take the call.
"If they broke it off with you and you suffered bad feelings and still carry that, then it can be helpful to take the call and hear them wish you well and see if they express some remorse," Greer says. "It really is contingent on what the relationship had been, how long it was for, how it ended, and how long since you had contact."
Finally ... always let your partner know of your plans or what's happened, no matter who initiated it.
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