*This article has been edited to reflect the lifestyle of DIN and may slightly vary from it’s original.*Some of us are fortunate enough to have a clean break when a relationship ends. I’m not referring to the amount of messiness during the breakup. Instead I’m speaking to being able to walk away from a bad situation with the assurance that you don’t have to interact with this person on a daily basis. Of course social networking makes this harder, especially if you are not the petty type who immediately changes your relationship status, then begins the process of deleting tagged photos, the mushy statuses you bookmarked, and then finally your ex and their friends. That’s what un-checking the option of seeing your ex’s updates are for people (un-friending is so 2011).
Before you know it, several weeks and then maybe months have gone by where you and your ex have had no contact and did not run into each other by accident. You were even good at not looking up their page to see how they are doing (since their thoughts no longer show up to your news feed thanks to that option I mentioned earlier). In some cases this is where the story ends. You have successfully detoxed and moved on. If your ex is brought up at all, they are just someone who gets mentioned in random conversation when you are reminiscing about being young and dumb.
For the rest of us, there are certain extensions of your friend circle, networking circle, or extracurricular calendar that overlap. In other words it’s inevitable that you will have to see your ex again. And if your luck is as good as mine they will be with their new beau. This new love interest may be standing next to your ex with a bright aura surrounding his/her happiness, or just hanging in the awkward silences of both of your consciousness while you play the catch up game. You both know that the “replacement” is there. Your ex is just hoping you won’t ask if they exists. You’re trying to avoid the topic all together so that you don’t have to invent the astronaut you’re dating who sends you love letters from space.
Either way you can sense it. You can tell that your ex has moved on. You can see that someone has been giving them pointers on how to dress and has been a driving force behind all of the changes they’re now filling you in on. When this interaction is over there are two ways that you will be spending your night.
1) At home fuming that your ex seems to be doing just fine while frantically trying to find your Bridgette Jones DVD , or 2) Fuming that your ex is doing just fine while you lay in the arms of your new lover, counting the many ways in which you have upgraded your own life.
The truth is when a relationship is over especially if you were the one to get the short end of the stick, there is a part of you that wants the person who dumped you to be sad, remorseful, and unable to get past the mistake he made of letting you go. In your mind the ideal scenario would be for your ex to be at home crying while refreshing your Facebook page every five minutes, while plotting on how to get you back.
Obviously, from your run in with them, that was not the case. The thing that you may be overlooking is that you are also okay. In the time that you were a part from your ex, you have also evolved. You may even have a real life partner that you could have bragged about if asked.
My fool-proof way of making sure I don’t lose all of the progress I’ve made in the two minute encounter I have with an ex is simply reminding myself of the old saying “ what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. A lot of cheaters use this to get over the revenge that their lovers might take by in turn cheating on them to get even. They say: “Well, I did it to her, so I had to expect that she was going to do it to me.” For me, in regards to dating it means if you moved on or you plan on it, then make yourself accept that they have too.
If you are happy, your ex is too. If you are looking in the eyes of someone else asking “where have you been all this time?” then so is your ex.
As much as it would boost your ego to think that they consider you the one that got away, it will probably only last until someone else gets away from them.
If you’re up at night staring at the ceiling and your ex isn’t the last thought before you fall asleep, then they are probably not thinking about you either.
Then there are the harder things to accept. Soon your ex will be voluntarily giving the flowers you had to hint at wanting for years to someone else. Soon your ex will feel compelled to leave their new beau sticky notes to let him/her know that they love ’em. Your ex will surprise them with that picnic you’ve been asking for. You won’t even get credit for letting your ex know that people appreciate these things!
Your ex’s new love will think that they are amazing even though you thought they were when you weren’t getting the things you wanted from the relationship. And the kicker… Your ex will gladly post pictures of their new lover and declare on every other Facebook status that they can’t get enough of him/her.
Accept these things. Force yourself to think that these things are already happening in your ex’s life even if they haven’t yet; because one day they will and you do not want to be blindsided, and questioning your progress or your effectiveness as an ideal mate.
The good news is, eventually you will be going to bed thinking about someone else. Someone else will be showering you with romantic gestures. Someone else will shout out of a car door to strangers to let them know that they are enamored with you.
If that someone does not exist for a while find solace in knowing that you were doing great on your own and having a blast meeting some right and some wrong people. Even if you are not happy it is imperative that you picture that your ex is. Make it real. Think about how happy they are without you so often that if you find out that your ex is indeed happier then you won’t feel a thing. If you haven’t been enjoying your time away from a relationship that was going nowhere…start.
To some of you, the idea of this may seem ludicrous. However, it has served me well in not getting caught with my emotional pants down. The reality is someday your ex will be happy. Someday your ex will find what they was looking for. This strategy has allowed me to happily wait for the invitations to my ex’s weddings, click the “like” button on the pictures of their kids, and become true friends with their spouses. Desensitizing yourself to this inevitability will not only make you prepared for this moment but you’ll find that you might even be happy for your ex too.