According to some rather imaginative gossip mongering doing the rounds at the moment, loved-up pair Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are keeping news of their (alleged) engagement on the down low as to not upset Kutcher's ex, Demi Moore.
Isn't that considerate?! In a time of (one imagines) immeasurable joy and excitement, the happy couple are playing mum because of an ex-partner's feelings. (You will note that no such thought has been spared for Kunis's ex, Macaulay Culkin though – perhaps Mila and Ashton don't think he will care. Or is too drugged out to notice.)
Regardless of whether or not this juicy story is true (hint: it's probably not) and, all cynicism aside, it does raise an interesting question – should you keep engagement news from an ex?
If you were unceremoniously dumped for another, despite having just spent five hours in Ikea together the weekend before, then no, keeping news that you've moved on with your life and have found someone who has more hair on his head than his back is not necessary. Is accidentally on purpose including them on a group Save the Date email necessary? Well, that's up to you.
If you were the one who ripped your ex's heart from their chest, squeezed until the blood ran dry and still find yourself avoiding, "How are you?" texts two years later, then as much as it may upset them, you're actually doing them a favour by replying with a, “Well, funny you should ask…” and telling them your news.
“In these sorts of cases a 'cruel to be kind' approach can be best,” says clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb. “If your ex is in denial, or still holds hope that you will be together again, being honest about your engagement can help them to understand it's time to move on.”
If your ex is now your fiance… Hmmm, yeah, you guys should probably talk about it.
When considering other factors Cribb says that, more so than the reasons behind your break-up or the time that has passed since, the most important tidbit of information to ponder is the nature of the relationship you've established with your ex since the break-up.
“If your ex still has the capacity and personality to take their potential hurt out on you (for example, financially or with child arrangements), then it is wise to protect yourself by keeping an engagement secret until you can be safe. Other than this, if you are still in contact, treat them as you would any other friend. Protecting their feelings by hiding the truth only keeps them in denial if they still have feelings for you or hopes for reconciliation.” Not in contact with each other? You have no obligation to tell them, says Cribb. “You are living like strangers so you would treat them as you would any stranger.”
And finally, if for whatever reason you think your news is any of your ex's business, what would hurt them more – knowing now because you've told them, or finding out from another source later? Because really, what are you going to do? Hide all the evidence of your impending nuptials forevermore? Even if you wanted to it's unlikely in our instantly up-to-date social media age that your news will not be leaked - not least of all because your mum has started posting wedding inspo to your Facebook wall and you've already created an Instagram hashtag for your engagement party, amirite?
Being nowhere near betrothed myself I can only personally consider the flipside of this question. I've always thought hearing news that my ex (a great love) was engaged would hit me in the stomach harder than a Miley Cyrus-flanked wrecking ball - I used to think I'd rather not know. But time, that great healer, is an excellent softener of blows, and I now imagine that when I eventually learn of his engagement after stalking his Facebook page one day (there's no way he'll be telling me himself), I will feel a little sad but mostly happy. For him and for me. Learning of an ex's engagement, however painful, is also kind of freeing, so maybe it's time to pick up the phone and give Demi a buzz, hey Ashton?