The X-Files: Tips on Dealing with the Person Formerly Known as Your Partner

The other day a random Facebook friend request from an ex’s sibling got me thinking about the way I’ve chosen to deal (or not deal) with my ex boyfriends. Surprisingly, I’ve reached a point where I can look a many of them and not want them to writhe and and wince in extreme torment.  Others, leave me wondering how the hell any relationship ever worked to begin with. And some of the ways have guided me into a catharsis that’s helped me realize that a harmonious connection can exist between two people, although a romantic connection may have failed previously.  Here’s a few things I’ve learned:

  • It’s true: Your ex is your ex for a reason. A random AIM encounter or a chance encounter in a Starbucks can sometimes leave you wondering why you ever left. You giggle nervously over Mocha chinos reminiscing about all of the “good times”: That weekend when you were snowed in and watched Napoleon Dynamite five times straight; the time he surprised you with roses at your job…in the rain.  But wait, Napoleon Dynamite had nothing on the XXX feature you came across starring him (and co-starring your bestie).  And weren’t those roses an apology for making you cry in the middle of Denny’s?  Of course there were plenty of good times, but don’t forget the bad ones. And being as though he’s your ex, they probably outnumbered the good one’s anyway.
  • Sometimes you really can’t (and shouldn’t) be friends. Not even Facebook friends. And that’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. Trey Songz definitely was speaking from experience. People grow apart and personalities clash and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it: not then, not now.  During this process, things can get intense.  Hurt feelings and bruised egos are left shattered in the aftermath and often you can’t get back to that place you once were. In this case, a friendship may not possible. If a partner is bringing out the worst in you or you feel the relationship leaves you unstable and out of control, it’s probably best that you just go back to being strangers.
  • Time heals all wounds. Well no, not really. Some of those wounds actually leave pretty nasty scars. What time can do is give you an opportunity for growth. Albert Einstein once said that a problem cannot be solved by the same mind which created it. Time can transform your state of mind and adjust your outlook on the situation. So many people break up and make the mistake of thinking they can instantly be super besties, but this almost never works out. You either end up right back in the relationship or in a state of purgatory repeating the same behaviors that preceded the breakup. In my experience, the nastiest of breakups require time away to reflect on the relationship objectively.
  • Ex sex is the best sex. It’s also the messiest. For those of us who find it hard to draw the line between love and lust, sex with the ex isn’t the greatest idea.   With emotions still raw and your judgment unstable, sex does nothing but complicate and already difficult situation. If you’re not going to close all communication, at least close your legs.
  • Remember, Release, Reflect. Don’t take that trip down memory lane simply to throw your ex under the bus riding next to you without evaluating if and how you contributed to the relationship’s demise.  It’s easy to complain about how he “did you wrong” (just ask Keyshia Cole, Monica or Fantasia) but what’s hard is admitting that maybe you weren’t on your A game either.  The best gift you can give to any potential suitors is a new and improved you who has worked to be a better partner than you once were.  Understand that your ex could very well be a good person, just not for you.   You’ll never move forward if you’re still bitter about the past.
  • Don’t say you do, if you really don’t. Forgive and forget that is.  If you don’t know by now, forgiveness is more about you than the other person.  Friendship can exist when a relationship has turned sour, but you need to have closure to old drama. The worst thing you can do is throw all that baggage on the back of the next man.  Get over it.  If you can’t please refer to “Sometimes You Really Can’t (and shouldn’t be) Friends.”

Lastly, I always say the quickest way to see if you are truly over an ex is to perform the “Pit Test”. If you can see your ex happy in another relationship and it doesn’t feel like the pit of your stomach is caving in, then you’re probably over them.  Remember to have respect for the person you are currently with; your ex shouldn’t be a bigger issue in the relationship than your love and respect for each other. Case closed.

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