How to Manage Your Ex!
We know how she handles her exes. What about you? We can’t all get over our exes by writing hit songs like Tay Tay. Here’s how to cope with the residual emotions that don’t go away just because you’ve changed your relationship status on Facebook.
“My ex and I dated for a year, and in that time, we were pretty much together 24/7,” says Kanika S, 25. “After we broke up, I found out that he had been cheating on me with a slew of other girls the entire time. It has really affected me and made me anxious around guys. I feel like I can’t trust anyone.” One way to restore your faith in men and trust the next guy you date is to find examples of really strong, established couples. “Look at your parents, if they’re still married, or the parents of a friend whose relationship you admire,” suggests Suzanne Lachmann, PsyD, author of the Me Before We blog on psychologytoday.com. “It’s a reminder that healthy relationships do exist, not all men cheat, and you need to have faith that fidelity is possible in a long-term relationship.” You also need to do what your ex couldn’t: be honest with yourself. “A lot of times we project onto people what we want them to be,” says Melissa Richman, PsyD, a relationship therapist in Beverly Hills, California. “Rather than group all men together as cheaters, dig deep and explore if maybe he wasn’t the person you told yourself he was and if there were red flags you chose to ignore.” “I found out that my ex, who I’d dated for years, now has a boyfriend,” says Sara K, 22. “I was super offended he didn’t tell me himself. I thought we were closer than that.” You are entitled to feel angry or like you were used, but you’re better off not trying to get him to explain himself to you. “He was probably confused when he was dating you, and he’s not going to provide you with any answers that are going to clarify the situation since he is working that out for himself,” says Berman. “I dumped a really nice guy,” says Alia B, 26. “He hasn’t moved on.” On some level, you recognise that the guy didn’t deserve to be strung along, and checking in on him is a way to alleviate your guilt—but there might be a deeper issue at play. You may be feeling down on yourself, and keeping in contact with a guy who liked you more than you liked him is an easy way to get an ego boost. You’re too good a person to keep him hanging while you work out your issues, so cut the cord. “My ex broke up with me with this spiel about how he was too young to be in a relationship this serious,” says Alisha T, 28. “A year later, he was married! I was crushed— it was like, clearly, you just didn’t want to get serious with me.” Sure, this feels like a punch in the gut, but think of it this way: “Compatibility has nothing to do with whether or not you’re worthy; it’s about being a good match,” says Jenn Berman, PsyD, host of The Love and Sex Show With Dr. Jenn on Cosmo Radio US. “That guy wasn’t right for you, and you can’t let him be the arbiter of your worth.” And hey, at least you’re in good company— the ‘ wife fluffers club’ includes all the models who the formerly marriage- averse singer Adam Levine dated before proposing to his latest Victoria’s Secret angel. Another thing: if you hear about the engagement from your ex, react gracefully. You may be tempted to make him explain why he wasn’t ready for commitment with you, but don’t! His answer won’t change the outcome. It’ll just make you look needy—and you’re so much cooler than that. Just wish him the best, then call a friend who will confirm that, yes, you’re way prettier and funnier than his new fiancée.
“My ex was in the same college as me, so my girlfriends and I would hang out there all the time,” says Ekta R, 19. “We broke up on really bad terms, but I didn’t want people to think I was antisocial, so I continued to hang out at his friend’s place with the rest of my friends, even though I hated seeing him.” There is a tonne of pressure to act like you’re okay. Not only do you not want to disrupt the social dynamics of your group, but you may even feel like you have to stay friends with this guy in order to prove how awesome you are and what a mistake he made by breaking up with you. “You’re invalidating the fact that you’re pissed off as hell or you’re sad and heartbroken,” says Belisa Vranich, PsyD, co- author of He’s Got Potential. “Right after a relationship ends, you will very likely need to cry and punch things and get everything out, not to pretend everything is okay to save face.” Tell your friends you need to take a time out from any events where your ex will be present, and hang out with strictly your people for a while. Also, be wary of a specific subset of this category: the ex who can’t quit you. “This is the guy who touches base every once in a while to make sure you’re still reeled in, but it’s never a quality interaction,” says Vranich. “He just wants to know you still want him or are still thinking about him, and every time you respond to his texts or e- mails, you get your hopes up only to have them crushed when it doesn’t go anywhere.” Don’t take the bait— you are fully within your ex rights to ignore his texts and not feel a shred of guilt about it. “I thought I was going to be with my ex forever,” says Heena K, 27. “So when he left, it messed up my vision of my life.” Here’s the thing: what you are enamoured with is a fantasy. “There is no way of knowing if you would have lived happily ever after with this guy, because in real life, you can’t control every factor,” says Vranich. You also need to get over the fear that you’ll never find anyone else who gets you the way your ex did. “I recommend my patients ask an ex like this to coffee. Time can make a saint of someone who isn’t all that amazing, and when you actually hang out with the person, the reality of who he is will likely shatter your perfect fantasy of him.” This suggestion comes with some caveats: that the guy is not some kind of sadistic bastard who will toy with your heart and that it’s been more than a year since you broke up. Maybe you’re hung up on him because in your mind, you had these deep, intense discussions, but when you meet him again, he’s distracted and nothing like the soul mate you remember. Even if Channing freaking Tatum walks through the door, know that this is not the one who got away, because the right guy for you will also want to be with you.