A happy birthday text from an ex can produce a variety of reactions. These can range from joy to sadness.
The reaction to Happy Birthday text messages from your ex depends on your current relationship. Don’t be afraid to set clear boundaries if you don’t want to receive any more texts. If your relationship is currently good, thank them politely.
What Is the History of Your Relationship?
Sometimes an ex is a person who you have many good memories with. You might have shared some of the best experiences of your life with that person.
As such, whenever you think of them, you feel good. In addition, you may still get along with them very well. Although you parted ways, it was for good reasons. Your breakup took place with fairness and with good wishes for each other.
You might even share a child with this person. You may already be co-parenting with them. You may see them often from week to week. You may share some bills with them.
In that case, you might already celebrate special occasions with them. So, a birthday text will not be out of place. However, there are also situations where you might not be going along well with an ex.
Mental, emotional, and physical abuse might have been involved in the relationship. These factors might have caused the breakdown of the relationship. You might not speak to the person often or see them in any type of context even if you share a child with them.
In that situation, receiving any type of text from them might take you by surprise. If they didn’t celebrate your birthday with you when you were in a relationship with them, receiving a text when you’ve parted ways would come as a shock.
Your response to a happy birthday text therefore will depend on the background of your relationship with your ex.
If they’ve been abusive towards you and there are legal restrictions in place on your communications, you might need to simply text them back, reminding them that they’re not to contact you. 
Understand Your Feelings
In order to respond appropriately or truthfully to a happy birthday text from your ex, you must understand how you feel about that type of communication. If you’re glad to receive that type of text, be honest about how you feel.
Similarly, if receiving a happy birthday text from your ex makes you feel unhappy, you should be honest about that as well. It’s not healthy to pretend to yourself just because you think that’s what your friends or family think you should do.
There will be many people who tell you that you should behave in a certain way but ultimately how you behave really depends on how you feel about your ex.
Your feelings are important. They should always be taken into consideration.
Respond in a Civil Manner
Sometimes receiving a happy birthday text from an ex who deliberately hurt you might result in feelings of anger. You might be tempted to insult the person or even retaliate in some way.
You might jump to conclusions about why the text was sent. You might think that it was meant to provoke you when that might not be the case.
Always take the time to process your own feelings and respond politely. Even if you think the text was only sent to provoke you, try to respond with courtesy.
You might not be on good terms with your ex. However, in all situations, you should try to respond in a civil manner.
Express Thanks Via Text
Whether you get along with your ex or not, always consider expressing thanks. If you don’t get along with them, simply text back thanks and end the conversation there. By saying thank you, you’re being polite.
If your ex is texting out of the blue after years of not communicating with you, saying thanks will show that you have control over your emotions and they don’t have the power to produce bitterness in you.
If you get along with your ex, saying thanks will also have a positive effect. Saying thank you when you have a good relationship with your ex will serve to further strengthen your relationship.
If you share children with them, expressing appreciation will help to build a foundation that will create an emotionally stable environment for your children. If your relationship with the person is good, you could be a little more relaxed with your response instead of sticking to just one word.
You could say:
“Thanks, Mary. I appreciate the good wishes.”
“Thanks, Simon. I appreciate the blessings.”
“Thanks for remembering. Tim, I appreciate it.”
Enjoy Genuine Good Wishes
If you are blessed with the type of ex who generally wishes well for you, you can relax when they wish you a happy birthday. You don’t have to be as guarded as you would be with someone who has repeatedly shown that they don’t always have your best interests at heart.
Some people are blessed with exes who would still go the extra mile for them. Although they’re not in a relationship with these individuals anymore, they can rely on them to stop by and do things that help their children to develop into healthy adults.
As such, they regularly participate in day-to-day activities with these individuals.
If you have a very good relationship with your ex, you can share a hug or some other physical sign of appreciation. You can also allow yourself to fully enjoy the good wishes and blessings that the person intended.
Let yourself appreciate the fact that they wanted you to have a good time on your birthday. Release some of your stress. Make the best of your day. You could even consider sharing the celebration with the person in some way.
For example, you could leave a slice of your birthday cake for them. You could also consider giving them a call to express your appreciation. Speaking to a person communicates a lot more than just texting them.
If they genuinely mean well to you, a quick call to say thanks or to say that you did have a good day will be appreciated.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.