In this feature journalist, Ger Leddin researches the topic and gives his slightly tongue-in-cheek advice on the matter.
We’ve all been there, experienced the pain, shock, heartache or sometimes even relief when a relationship ends. But how should we deal with an ex-partner?
1. Understand that when it’s over, it’s over
Whether you’re the instigator of the break-up or to use a cruel term, the one that has been dumped, the first thing to realise is when a relationship is over, that’s it, it’s over, get on with your life.
Break off — if only for a while — all contact with your ex.
Yeah, sure there will be certain things to sort out, like clothes, money, cars, pre-booked holidays etc, but these can all be dealt with through an intermediary, a mutual friend, for example.
Seriously, many people just out of a relationship, try to remain friends with their ex, this simply does not work.
You need to protect yourself, get on with your new life and forge ahead; perhaps entering a new relationship when you feel it’s right for you.
Yes, it is possible in the fullness of time to perhaps become good friends with your ex, but being friends straight away simply cannot happen until you have healed yourself and got rid of the pain that the break-up caused. Take a cooling-off period.
Remember, even if you do need to keep in contact with your ex, for domestic issues or the care of children — there is a very distinct difference between being friendly and being friends.
2. Be Fair, not spiteful.
We all have a life to get on with and especially after a break-up it is vitally important that we try to make ourselves as comfortable and as secure as possible, when it comes to every-day things like laptops, clothes, access to kids, cars, and joint bank accounts, we need to have easy access to our every-day possessions.
I suppose what I’m trying to say here is, do not take out your anger or rage on your ex’s MP3 player or the collection of comic books he has built-up since childhood, but instead try to put the anger to one side.
If you read any of those self-help books on relationships they all say things like “Anger doesn’t automatically dissipate by being unleashed. We rarely experience catharsis. Venting it in words or action doesn’t make anger easier to manage; often it only increases the intensity of the feeling.”
To put the above in simpler terms, Anger will wreck your head, let it go.
3. Don’t Engage in Gang Warfare.
Unfortunately, the Geneva Convention which covers the rules of engagement in warfare does not cover the break-up of a relationship. And believe me, it can get dirty but remember it takes two to engage in battle.
Let’s face you both are going to have mutual friends and it’s at times like this you’re going to need your friends. Don’t go slagging of your ex to all your mutual friends for two reasons.
One he/she will probably be saying the same sort of stuff about you and honestly, you will be taking the moral high ground if you refrain from nasty comments.
Secondly, your friends are quickly going to grow tired of hearing all the intimate and gory details of your past relationship; they will simply begin to avoid you.
Once the initial gossip period has passed people much prefer talking about sport.
4. Deal with the social media fall-out head on.
Social media has taken over our lives and whether we like it or not we are drawn to it like flies are drawn to a pile of …well you get the picture.
No one likes looking at pictures of their ex out enjoying themselves in pubs or at nightclubs having a ball or worst still in a fancy restaurant with an even fancier new love-interest.
The simple solution is to block them on Facebook, Twitter, and the myriad of other outlets.
Be careful here though, drop them a message first telling them you are doing this for all the right reasons are your noble intentions may be interpreted as spite; see two above.
5. Don’t mess with their heads or allow them to mess with yours.
This is important, as I said before when it’s over, it’s over. The mistake that many make with their ex-partners is to go back and back — normally for “one more last time” sex.
You just can’t be “friends with benefits” with a recent past partner. Yeah, ok after a year or two, you never know you might rekindle what was a good relationship. But with a recent ex, it’s just not worth the effort.
I’m going to quote here from one of those psychology thingies I read while researching this article.
“Not acknowledging break-up emotions when having an “old times’ sake” shag is like trying to force the two halves together again – you just end up with a huge mess and dirty hands.”
Anyway, that’s my pennies worth. Take it or leave it but either way, remember “there’s plenty of fish in the sea.”