Monday, March 19, 2012

On To The Next One

As discussed in my last post, going through a break up is never a pleasant endeavor, we are suddenly in a position of transition, where we have to start certain aspects of our life over, whether or not we want to.

One of the most difficult things people, myself especially, struggle with is coping with the knowledge that our ex has moved on and found someone else. I particularly struggle with this because I feel ridiculous for caring or allowing myself to be upset about it. Every break up I’ve endured, however painful at the time, happened for a reason, and I was satisfied with that reason. I never left a relationship wishing that I could still be in it nor do I look back at my past boyfriends and have any desire to get back together with them. However, when I find out that they have found themselves a new relationship, this sense of pain and hurt consumes me. (I also realize that this is incredibly hypocritical because in 99% of the cases, I have “moved on” to someone new before they have. I think this is perhaps because the men I seriously date are the ones who don’t engage in meaningless flings, they go for quality over quantity-whereas, I tend to float from serious boyfriend to a series of distractions back to a serious boyfriend-so when they find someone new, I have to take it seriously)

When an ex starts dating someone else, it’s like the final chapter has come to an end, even if we closed the book a long time ago. It makes the whole break up real, and we are faced with the revelation that we are replaceable. We feel a mixture of rejection and jealousy. Who is this other person? What makes them so great? What does our ex like about them? Did our ex go for someone completely different? Is it because they didn’t want another us?

Apparently these are all common feelings and thoughts (does this mean that I am...normal?) However, instead of allowing them to bring down our mood, try and remember the following:

You broke up for a reason: It’s very easy to look back and remember the positive, especially when enough time has passed. I stay good friends with all of my past boyfriends (because they’re incredible) but that can cloud reality at times. At a platonic level, I am reminded on a daily basis why I liked them so much, and don’t often see the sides that made maintaining the romance side impossible. Or if I see them, they don't bother me like they did when I was dating them. However, if you’re suddenly grieving for the loss of the relationship again, try and take a few steps back and objectively look back at the relationship. Remember those reasons, and realize they’re (hopefully) still relevant.

You’re not being replaced: Everyone and every relationship is completely different. So this new person your ex is seeing may make them very happy, they may be a great couple but that doesn’t detract from your relationship with the person. They are completely unrelated. (Side note: I just started crying) This new person doesn’t make what you and your ex shared any less special or beautiful. It’s different. It’s not that they found someone better than you, more that they are with the right person for them at this time.

It was inevitable: This isn’t a surprise, we have to expect that when we are no longer involved with someone that they will, at some point, start a relationship with someone else. We should actually be grateful for this (unless we’re still in love with the person, in which case, I have nothing to say other than try and move on. Please take this as the push you needed.) …why would we want someone to not move on? Burn a candle for us for all of eternity? Who would want that? It would be terrible. These feelings are, in some ways, slightly selfish. Stop being selfish.

Be happy for them: Regardless of your feelings towards your ex, there was, at one point where you enjoyed seeing them happy, perhaps even made their happiness a priority. Remember that. This person is someone you had wonderful memories with and cared about. If you’re friends with them, you have no (rational) excuse to be anything other than thrilled for their newfound joy, if you’re on the other end of the spectrum, try and find some part inside of you that recognizes the good in the situation. Bestowing positive thoughts is healthier and more beneficial than focusing on the negative. Plus, when you're happy, you radiate better energy, and are more likely to have good things come to you.

This isn’t a competition: Just because your ex is moving onto someone new doesn’t mean you have to rush and do the same thing. Doing so doesn’t prove any kind of point other than you probably aren’t ready to date yet. If it happens naturally, then let it unfold, however let it be for the right reasons. You’ll never be happy or able to sustain anything real by turning this into a “Who is happier after the breakup?!” contest. (This also applies to not trying to show your exes new paramour how much better you are.)

Manage your expectations: Things will be different, but not necessarily worse. These days it isn’t uncommon for exes to stay friends but it can still be a little daunting when there is a new person brought into the equation. Your ex will most likely feel protective of their new love’s feelings, especially in regards to you (normal) so try not to take this too personally. This doesn’t mean they don’t want you in their life anymore, or don’t care about you, it just means they’re doing their best to navigate a sticky situation. Let it be, be normal, be understanding, don’t push, and it’ll smooth out.

Gossip and Bad Mouthing are BAD: Don’t do it.

Vent to the right person: As I said, it’s natural to feel a little rueful with this new information, and talking about it is ok (as long as you aren’t saying mean things about your ex or the person they’re with)…however, your ex is not the person to have the conversation with. Call your parents. Your best friend. Go to your closest friend of the opposite sex (heeey J) Go to your coworker if that’s the only option, but do NOT discuss this with your ex. The feelings will subside more quickly than you think but if you’ve told your ex about them you’ve gone down the road of no return.

This can be difficult, really difficult, but as I said, everything about this is natural. It’s natural to feel slightly distressed, and it’s natural for people to move on. Isn’t that what you’re doing too?

*Thanks JCB (aka TCO) for stepping out of your hectic world to shed some reverence on this subject matter, and for listening to me cry.

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