Just because you’re not boiling bunnies doesn’t mean you’re totally over your ex (Exhibit A: last Friday’s 3 a.m. drunk-dialing episode). Just ask Heather Belle and Michelle Fiordaliso, authors of the post-relationship guide, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ex*.”
The book’s premise: that keeping your ex in your life, aka “exing” — whether that involves a no-strings-attached hook-up or daily monitoring of his Facebook page — is sabotaging your future happiness. Here are six common exing patterns to 86 from your life (along with that dude!).
Putting your ex on a pedestal.
In reality, Roger was mediocre in bed, wore too much cologne, and hogged the remote. But now that he’s no longer in your life, Mr. Ho Hum has become Mr. The One Who Got Away, the guy that no lackluster blind date can hold a candle to.
It’s common to exaggerate an ex’s good qualities, or even to over-dramatize his bad qualities, but by building him up to be this epic character, you’re giving him a starring role in your life rather than the walk-on part he truly was. Put differently, “By making your ex into Superman,” Belle and Fiordaliso write, “he actually becomes your kryptonite.”
Playing the coulda-woulda-shoulda game with your ex even though you have a new guy.
The good news: There’s a new man in your life. The bad news: Rather than enjoying your new relationship, you’re using it as an excuse to make your ex feel jealous. Maybe you want him back, maybe you just like the idea of two guys fighting over you, or maybe you just like undermining your love life.
Either way, Belle and Fiordaliso say, “If you’re in a new relationship and you and your ex are still going over what could’ve been, might’ve been, or should’ve been, then you’re being emotionally unfaithful. If you’re using your ex as your couple’s counselor, you’re being emotionally unfaithful. If you’re sharing the intimate details of your new relationship with your ex, you’re being emotionally unfaithful. Period.”
Obsessing over his ex.
It’s common to feel threatened by your new man’s past loves, but making them an issue — provided they’re not calling him at all hours of the night, posting boudoir pics on his Facebook wall, or jabbing needles into a makeshift voodoo doll that bears a striking resemblance to you — will only make you the issue.
Not only will obsessing over his old flames drive you crazy, but by constantly talking about them or “nonchalantly ” asking your boyfriend about them, you’re A) acting insecure, B) keeping them at the forefront of his mind, and C) giving them power.
Worming your way into your ex’s relationship.
Not all couples have messy breakups. Some become friends, go to one another’s weddings, and do a great job of pretending that they’ve never seen each other naked. But if your ex/friend has moved on, you need to respect that.
Rather than going behind his wife or serious girlfriend’s back to make plans to hang out one-on-one, Belle and Fiordaliso recommend calling the couple collectively. Trying to make her jealous is selfish and a trademark of “psycho ex” behavior.
Just because you know your ex’s email password doesn’t mean you should use it; does the phrase “invasion of privacy” mean anything to you? Snooping through his inbox, Googling him constantly, or going through his Facebook page with a fine-toothed comb will only result in seeing things that will hurt you. Screw that. De-friend him until you’ve had a cooling off period, and find a positive activity to distract you whenever you get the urge to play detective — yoga, a phone call to a pal, “Golden Girls” reruns …
Convincing yourself that you’re “just friends.”
According to Belle and Fiordaliso, you are not “just friends” if the following conditions apply: you think about him 24/7; he still gets under your skin; your friends would be on the phone to Dr. Phil if they knew you still saw him, which is why you don’t tell them; you use him for your flirting fix; you diss his new girlfriend; you use his friends as informants; you want to get back together; you haven’t found a new relationship yet; you wouldn’t dream of introducing him to your new guy; or — oopsie — you’re still sleeping together.
Tell Us: Is there one ex you just can’t get over? Start venting … and then forget him!
No. 6 is sooo true! I’m ‘friends’ with my ex, see him every week. He texts and calls me every day, and I see him almost as much as he sees his new ‘girlfriend’, even though we broke up six months ago.
Can’t tell my friends cos they would prob have me sectioned cos they (and I) know he’s using me for his emotional fix and the positive attention, and I’m using him for the (non-sexual) intimacy and the flirting fix! Plus secretly wishing we’d get back together.
As of now, I’m moving on. If he thought I was worth his time, I wouldn’t even have to write this comment!
Jamie, would you mind perhaps having a chat with me about this for a potential article?
I am number 5. I recently used a mutual friend’s Facebook account to check that my ex wasn’t dating anyone new. I’m taking a break from studying to buy this book now!
For the most part I tend to cut my exes out of my life completely, as that level of familiarity with a ‘friend’ is too much for me. However, there is one ex I talk to every few months (perhaps he is my one that got away?), and I end up feeling hot and bothered for days after we speak.
I think Belle and Fiordaliso are bang on about the messing with your future happiness thing.
Number 5 and hating it, I know it’s so unhealthy but letting go has been so hard
Ugh. I am totally in phase #1 right now. And the problem? I KNOW I’m doing it! Granted, it’s only been 2 weeks since things ended… so the wound is still very new. Right now, he is completely my kryptonite and I hate it. 🙁
Time to be positive. He wasn’t that fantastic, after all…because if he was, we would still be together!
Oh boy, do I ever need this article! I broke up with this guy years ago, and could never get him out of my mind, but I tried because he didn’t want to get married. I met someone else and tried to ignore my ex’s calls, emails, and cards because I wanted to make a go of the new relationship. Years later I’m really unhappy with my new beau and then he cheated on me, so I ended that relationship. But felt I can’t go backwards so resigned myself for some “me” time when my ex, the one I still think about, got ahold of me. He’s married now and unhappy with that but has a baby. But he’s still in love with me, I’m afraid I am too. We’ve been talking now for a year and he’s not going to divorce and I’m not going to live with seconds so I’m trying to move on. Again. I feel like I’m in some corny star crossed lovers movie. But I want the fairy tale ending even though it won’t be with the man I consider the love of my life. I’m trying really hard not to play the game of obsessing on the past, if only I …. kind of thinking. But it’s really hard. The heart wants what the heart wants. I’m secretly hoping that someday he’ll divorce but that’s futile thinking too, isn’t it. I know I deserve happiness now, not waiting for a chance that may never come.
I’m actually best friends with one of my exes. We dated off and on for a couple years, it’s been off for over 4 years now, but he’s still the one person I call when I need a shoulder or some advice. I think a lot of it is just being grown up enough to realize that a relationship isn’t working, and to cherish the friendship you DO have.
I am so #5 and #6. I constantly look at his FB page. We aren’t “friends” but his profile isn’t private. I don’t know why I do, it’s mostly just Mafia Wars updates lol. Number 6, I figure it’s a lot easier to sleep with the same person that I have been sleeping with for the past year than have a random hook up and feel like crap the next day. I know it isn’t healthy, but I have met a new potential, and I think I’m ready to let go.
[…] When we’re in the dating game, we practice and, in a way, get addicted to showing our value to be higher than the guys around us. When you’re out in a nightclub chatting to a girl and she’s into you, if another guy comes up and tries to snake her from you, you pick her up and carry her away from him. You make fun of his stupid shirt. You tell your girl that he’s weird and that you should leave. Most of the time this behavior is way inappropriate in a relationship. […]