Your relationship might have seemed to be going in the right direction, but now you’re suddenly faced with the fact that you’ve become an ex. This two letter word, as simple as it might be, creates various meanings to all of us.
Some might view their ex in a positive, well-respected manner, but this is not always the case. The following are suggestions so you don’t become that kind of an ex that many often dread:
- Accept that the relationship is over. You don’t need to call, send gifts, and text on a regular basis in hopes that you will get back together with your ex. Instead, accept the situation at this moment and learn what you personally want moving forward. Explore what new opportunities you might need in your life, and how you can best take care of yourself through this process. It will not be easy, but there will come a point where you need to move on and focus on yourself versus the relationship that you had.
- Don’t make your friends choose sides. Many of us have gone through breakups where you have mutual friends with your ex, and we might ask ourselves, “Which one of my friends will be coming with me?” There will always be two sides to every story, but your friends do not need to be in the middle. Knowing this, there is no need to convince them of the situation or to make them choose how good of a friend they are to you- you should never put them in that position. And truthfully, some of your friends might stay your friends, and others might not. A breakup signifies loss in your life, and this can not only be applied to your ex, but also your friends. Which leads me to the next piece…
- Stop Talking to Your Ex’s Family. Trust me, I personally have been there where you might have deeply connected with your ex’s family and felt like you were almost a part of it. Some of you might want to share every detail around the breakup with them (and your ex’s family might want to know), but the breakup details should be left between only you and your ex. Also, keep in mind that this is your ex’s family, not yours. These will be people, whether they like your ex or not, a part of your ex’s life forever. Respect this fact and learn that this, too, will be an area that you might be grieving the loss around- it’s not only an ex you might be losing, but their family, friends, pets, etc. as previously mentioned. If you find yourself in a situation where eliminating your ex’s family is not possible (small town, you were friends with a sibling before you dated your ex, etc.), ask yourself how you can best respect your ex and his/her ties with his/her family then. The key word is respect!
- Don’t stalk your ex- Both in person & virtually. I’ve met people in my office that have told me that they would drive by their ex’s house, would check-up on their Instagram and Facebook profiles, would call their work, ask friends what their ex was doing, and the list can go on. Just stop. These types of behaviors will only remind you of your ex, will be more harmful to you, and simply will not allow you to move on & grieve. If your ex wants you in his/her life, then he/she would be in a relationship with you still. Move on and honor the fact that you two broke up. You also deserve to be with someone that wants you in his/her life.
- Don’t EVER become aggressive, physical and/or make threats. I don’t care how much you hate your ex, how much he/she has hurt you, or whatever the case might be: NEVER do anything that you think could potentially hurt someone, you, something or becomes abusive. A breakup gives you absolutely no right to go out and key cars, hurt animals, and oh the horrific things I have heard, read and seen. There is a reason why this behavior is considered illegal & unsafe, and why there is a thing called a restraining order. It’s not pretty, and it often creates fear from others around you. Also, threating to kill yourself to your ex is never an option to connect, reunite or manipulate. If you are depressed and suicide is a true concern, please contact a crisis number such as 1-800-273-8255 or reach out to a suicide prevention agency, website or professional. Bottom line: Both you and your ex need to feel safe. Period. If there are questionable behaviors and/or characteristics that resonate with you that are harmful, please seek professional help either through therapy, anger management groups, grief & loss work, and depression resources that you may find online and in your community.
- Don’t talk horribly about your ex and the relationship. No one wants to hear that their ex is going around spreading nasty rumors or saying things that once were discussed in private and/or are untrue. Yes, you might be so mad and upset around the breakup, but this does not give you the right to speak poorly about your ex. Also, keep in mind that talking this way does not always make your ex look bad; rather, it makes you look bad. Plus, you never know what the future might hold between the two of you. Not trying to get your hopes up, but I have personally and professionally met many couples that have broken up, and later got back together. Some of these couples shared how they wished they never spoke poorly about their ex because now their family and friends “just don’t look at them the same”- either about the partner, the person that made the comments, or both. There is a reason there is a saying, “Don’t air out your dirty laundry”. It’s not their business so don’t go around making it theirs.
Do look at the positive experiences you shared and gained. With every relationship I have been in, I try to recall the positive experiences as to what that person brought to the table! I share with my clients that each relationship we have ever been in has made us a stronger person and brings to our awareness of what we need moving forward. Honor the relationship you were in, meaning create a positive perspective, and remind yourself that you personally have grown from the experience. Take time to process the positive, and then create a space to move on. You’ll be a great ex if you treat the relationship with kindness and allow yourself to move into the next chapter of your life!
Melissa Risso is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and contributing EXpert at EXaholics.com