Reflections: When the ‘ex’ becomes the ‘hex’

A man and woman at college talking outside classIt's never easy when a relationship ends; how it ends is even harder than the break-up itself. And although you both pledge to “stay friends”, contact between the two of you dries up until the only acknowledgement you make to one another is the odd glare and/or nod of the head.

So why is it that as soon as you enter into a new relationship, either your ex or your new partner's ex comes onto the scene? This problem is extremely common but luckily, curable.

There are 4 possible dreaded ex scenarios:
1. They could show more interest than necessary and harass you or your partner for a while, but eventually give up if ignored;
2. Repeat scenario 1 but instead of giving up, become the bitter' ex and resort to tarnishing both you and your partner's name;
3. They may decide that they genuinely miss you or your partner's company, and gently ease their way back into the friendship position;
4. Or, the worst scenario, worm sorry, I mean, strike up a friendship but after spending enough time with either you or your partner, the ex' pushes you or your partner out of the picture, giving them back the crown of boyfriend/girlfriend'.

How can we stop this?

Say you're praised from something you did at work. Your boss singles you out for attention, congratulates you in front of all the staff, and your colleagues all commend you and for a while, you get a buzz from all the admiration. Then a week later, someone else gets praised you see what happened to you, but with someone else in the picture do you approach the situation with:
(a) pride? or
(b) jealousy?

If you answered (a) then well done to you for showing appreciation for others. But if you answered (b), then this could be why either ourselves or others create these dreaded ex scenarios'. It doesn't matter how old we are, how much money we have, or how generous and kind we are, everyone suffers from the green-eyed monster. How you deal with it is what separates you from being just another petty jealous person to a mature and respected individual; so which sounds more appealing?

The most common scenario is usually number 1, as mentioned before. Usually if no attention is paid to the ex, then you won't have to speak to them. But how would you tackle scenario 2?

Even though we liked and perhaps even loved this person at one stage, the relationship ended for a reason. Explain that by spreading rumours actually damages their reputation and not yours, for although it might make you feel better, it's obvious to others that you aren't handling it the best and by hurting others, loses friends and respect. In some cases it might be easier to ignore the ex, hoping they'll just go away. But remember, they're human and just like you, and talking to them about why the relationship ended and how there's someone else on the scene might give them the closure they need.

Onto scenario 3, a tricky yet manageable situation. Although most friendships develop into relationships easily enough, the transition back into friendships is a lot harder to do. Firstly, more feelings are gained from relationships such as love and lust, and whilst many friendships are based on love, a majority of friendships involving love are of the platonic kind. Making the transition from the intimacy of a relationship into a friendship is not easy, as there are certain boundaries this is why we have two sets of companionship; friendship and relationship. I have a friend who is still extremely good friends with her ex and whilst herself and her ex are happy with this arrangement, my friend's current partner is not. Remember, a relationship is based on two people, not three. Yes, the ex was an important part of either yourself or your partner's life, but as the old saying recounts, “life goes on”. The reason you chose your new partner is not just for the feelings of adoration you have for them, it's also for the friend you have in them. Let the ex know that you already have a friend, and that it is your partner, although you may no longer be able to share simple privileges such as calling each other as often as you like for a friendly chat, assure them that you're there for them it may not sound like much, but to many people this is a comfort to know.

Last but not by any means the nicest, scenario 4. It doesn't matter whether they broke up last week, or even 5 years ago. To feel an attraction that brings two people into a relationship is, although unexplainable, can simply be reason enough to be together. But believe it or not, you can prevent this from happening. Not by resorting to pushing the ex down the stairs, but by being you. Sure, there may be traits that you possess that remind your partner of the ex, and vice versa, but remember the break-up happened for a REASON. Remind you and your partner constantly of this reason and the logic behind it, and sense will prevail. Taking the mature option is not only impressive but wise, and relationships grow more because of this. But if you or your partner decide to go back to the ex, then think long and hard, and please make sure it's for the right reason, and that you don't hurt anyone else in the process. Karma has a funny way of biting you where it hurts, and you don't want that to happen, do you? I hope anyone reading this found this helpful and mature. Now, I'm off to go make a voodoo doll of my boyfriend's ex.

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