Unless you are one of the lucky few who get love right on the first try, we all end up with exes. Exes can be our worst nightmares, but they can also be some of our closest friends if we don’t make a huge mess of things. At the very least, we hope they won’t make us want to escape any room they happen to be in.
I always try to stay friends with my exes. I figure that if I liked them enough to date them I probably like them enough to at least be friendly toward them. I have one ex who, no matter how hard I try, cannot stand to make eye contact with me and frankly, it bites. His negative attitude toward me gives the relationship a sad, dark undertone and keeps me from focusing on the good times we had together. Because no one should have to feel terror or depression around people they once loved, here are some tips for dealing with an ex.
Before you break up
Don’t place blame on the other person or say things you know you’re going to regret. Unless the person did something like cheat on you or kill your favorite pet, breakups generally involve two people who no longer make each other happy. If you act like the other person is the only one in the wrong, it is hard to make up later and distorts the view of your actual dating life. Make it clear that you’re not breaking up to hurt them, but to help both of you. Don’t be mean for the sake of being mean. I’ve heard some pretty nasty things said during breakups that never should have come out. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend you were fighting with don’t say it during a break up.
After you break up
Make an effort. You may not want to be friends, but you probably don’t want things to be uncomfortable. Sometimes something as simple as liking their Facebook status says, “Hey, we’re cool, and I wouldn’t push you in front of a bus.” Say “hi” on the street or sit near them in class after you’ve had a reasonable break period. It can be super awkward the first few times but it helps defuse tension quickly. It is easy to demonize a person you never see again, so make sure you both remember that the other person isn’t really all that bad.
Don’t talk about your new significant other in front of them. This is the worst. One of my exes comes to me for advice about his new girlfriend and I hate hanging out with him more than I hate being in a room with the ex who is afraid of looking at me. Just because you used to be comfortable talking about sex with someone, doesn’t mean that you get to do it when you sleep with other people. Even if they say it is OK, avoid it.
Stop calling each other crazy. Someone may not have wanted to be with you, but that doesn’t make them crazy. People throw around this word too often. We are, for some reason, our most annoying selves around the people we date or used to date, but just because she got annoyed when you didn’t text her back or he got frustrated because you left socks everywhere doesn’t make someone crazy. It makes him or her human and you just happened to notice it more.
We need to stop thinking about our exes as terrifying beings out to get us. Too many people think their ex is literally the worst person to have ever walked the planet and their sole purpose is to ruin lives. Most of the time this is completely untrue. Sometimes it is fun to create some drama in our lives, but don’t do it at the expense of your ex. Because things didn’t work out doesn’t make him or her a bad person, he or she just isn’t the right person for you.