The Ex Factor

7 Sep

Credit: K. Hamierzarin

My Facebook feed has been reading like a relationship graveyard for the past month. One couple after another is biting the dust, and I’m seeing “[Insert name here] is now single” more than Farmville, Café World and Mafia Wars requests combined. Perhaps it’s because summer’s end is rapidly approaching, or something is in the water. Whatever it is, people just aren’t feeling each other anymore.

I would say that most of us handle a breakup like champions. We cry, go for drinks with friends, discard anything that reminds us of this former part of ourselves, or watch more episodes of “Golden Girls” than we care to admit. All of these are healthy outlets for the sadness and loneliness one feels after a relationship has been severed.

Some are not so dignified in their approach. We all know at least one person who believes a breakup is a reason for a breakdown, and allow themselves to get sucked into a dimension where self-respect doesn’t exist. Most people roll their eyes and patiently wait for the time when their friend returns, but if you’re like me, you can’t wait to put them on blast.

(1) Don’t be a doorknob (or why you shouldn’t let everybody have a turn.) I know you believe that nothing says “I’m over you” quite like getting drunk, and sleeping with every person who makes a half-hearted attempt to see you naked. I’m here to tell you that when you wake up the next day and realize the Perfect 10 is a Perfect 2.5 (at best) you’re going to regret what you’ve done. The only thing you’ll accomplish is contracting a rash on your genitals that only medication not yet approved by the FDA can cure.

(2) Foul mouths. We’ve all had that former flame who ripped our heart out, threw it on the ground, and did an Irish jig on top of it until it was in a million pieces. I understand wanting to climb to the nearest mountain top, and cry foul to the world in the first few weeks after the breakup. When it’s one year, seventy “I hate that assclown” Facebook posts, and five letters to Congress asking them to ban your ex-lover’s face from existence later, it’s time to LET IT GO. Contrary to your belief, bitter is not the new black.

(3) Obsession confession. I think it’s human nature to wonder what our exes are doing in the first few months after a breakup. Are they dating again? Did they finally get that promotion? How did they spend their birthday? While it’s okay to casually hint around to mutual friends for a short period of time, it is never okay to turn in to a full-blown private investigator. Don’t call and hang up repeatedly. Don’t check their Facebook pages to see if they’re dating again. Don’t sit behind a newspaper and watch them as they relax in a coffee shop. Don’t take pictures of them with a telephoto lens. Just. Don’t. There’s a thin line between being inquisitive, and being a stalker. The police will be able to trace your IP address and credit card purchases, and you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of a restraining order.

(4) Stark raving sad. It has been a month or so since the two of you broke up, and you’re crying. That’s totally normal. It has been about six months, and you still don’t feel like hanging out with your friends on a Saturday night. A little dramatic, but acceptable. It has been a year, and you’re still in that stain-laden bathrobe, creating a permanent butt dent in your couch, and looking at pictures of the first time you two ate a corndog together. Now it’s time to stop the madness. I do think there is a grieving period to be had anytime a person loses something, but when you’re creating permanent tear stains on your face, and your pizzas are being delivered with boxes of Kleenex, it’s time to pull yourself together.

(5) Insane in the membrane. In the first few months after I broke up with my ex-boyfriend he would call me up to 30 times a day, leaving one crazy message after another. I have a friend whose ex-girlfriend nearly got him fired after she hacked into his e-mail account, and sent lewd messages to business colleagues. I also heard a story of a girl chasing a friend through their school’s parking lot, and then jumping on the hood of his car so he couldn’t get away. I’m not sure what acting like Courtney Love and Lindsay Lohan’s coked up lovechild is supposed to accomplish, but asking your ex to swallow your cocktail of craziness has never worked out well for anyone.

It isn’t about being emotionally numb; rather, it’s about not letting your past dictate your future. I know better than anyone what it’s like to have a rage build inside of you which would cause Hannibal Lecter to cower in fear. It’s what you do after you’ve experienced this that really matters. You may not have won the battle, but you can still win the war.

I always offer friends who have just found themselves single the same advice. Don’t let the sadness and anger swallow you whole. Resist the urge to find out what the other person has been up to since the split. Wait awhile before you start dating again. And please, if you’re going to buy a telephoto lens, make sure you pay for it with cash.

2 Responses to “The Ex Factor”

  1. nothingprofound 09/17/2011 at 7:27 am #

    Good advice mixed with a wonderful sense of humor. It puts the whole “break-up thing” in perspective.

    • Jen and Tonic 09/17/2011 at 11:43 am #

      Thanks! I am always really surprised when totally normal people turn in to basketcases after a breakup. It’s always better to take the high road.

      By the way, you have a great website!

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