How to be a Great Ex

I used to have this saying when I was single and had a hard time finding a relationship:

"You know, I make a great ex-girlfriend. In fact, guys should date me just so I can become their ex!"

I didn't call them, I didn't linger around, I didn't become friends with the new girl, I didn't frequent their workplace, I didn't continue visiting the parents, I didn't try cutting myself, I didn't talk badly about them... I just moved on. Sure, I was hurt and confided in friends when I was having a bad day, but it didn't consume my life. I learned quickly it was healthier to just be cool about things and move on, than wallow in resentment and make things crazy for everyone involved.

I've had my share of experiences dealing with guys who had ex-girlfriend issues, and it was so puzzling to me as to why simply leaving someone alone and moving on was so hard to do - for either of them! If a relationship is over, it's over. O-V-E-R. Leave the person alone. Start living the next chapter of your life. In fact, start a new book because the previous one obviously had a crappy ending.

I'm going to create my guide in to two parts, because there's the ex who receives the breakup, and the ex who initiates the breakup.

How to be a Great Ex

Auntie Ozanne's Guide for the Broken-hearted Ex

1a. Don't phone and text your ex all the time. It doesn't matter if you're NOT doing okay and you need to talk things out. That's what friends, family, and support networks are for. If you are constantly putting yourself in their face to either, a) make them crazy, or b) try and get them back, you are wasting your effort on finding a better life for yourself. The person made it clear that your love life is over, so you owe it to yourself to move on. Constantly working at making one human being irritated with you won't help. Spin the focus on who the next relationship might be with, because your happiness with the ex had its chance and didn't work. It's time to see what's next for you.

2a. Don't sleep with their friends. This solves what, exactly? You end up hurting yourself, the ex, and the friend because nothing was genuine, it was just for a fleeting moment for settling an urge. Just because the person who split with made you unhappy, why add post-breakup drama? Was there not enough drama in the relationship that caused the break up? Plus, you only end up looking like a good reason why they left you in the first place. Have class, and look for new social circles that are not tied to your ex's.

3b. Don't become friends with their parents. You were the in-law, now you're not. It's perfectly fine to be civil, and if there is a social situation where you may run in to them, this is understandable. But planning dinners out or weekend getaways are not okay even if you share children with your ex. Know your boundaries, respect your ex's new relationship, and your current partner's feelings. You might be the cool one, totally accepting of being friendly and social with them, but someone in the picture might not be. If this happens, be mature enough to sit down and talk with them about compromise. If an ex is completely against your friendship with the parents and no children are involved, there are going to be plenty of other people's parents you can be buddies with - specifically your next partner's!

4b. Don't stalk them. Driving by the house, sending emails to see if they bounce back, making "mistake texts and phone calls" just to see if they respond, or showing up to their workplace is not okay. You two are over, and even though no one might catch you in the act with some of these things, it's lunacy. Making such terrific efforts to be nothing less than a spy is silly because the person is no longer in a relationship with you, period. So what if they answer your blocked-number call with, "Travis?" (And your name is NOT Travis.) "Kristen?" (And your name is NOT Kristen.) Recognize when something is no longer your business. Even if you want to prove they might have cheated before the breakup, so what if you found that out? They're the ex now, so the point is moot. Stalking is also criminally harassing and you can get yourself in a lot of trouble if you can't control yourself. Use your spare "stalking-time" productively on yourself, and focus on moving forward instead of looking back.

5a. Don't hassle the new girlfriend or boyfriend. How would you feel? Imagine you start out a new relationship and someone from their past constantly treated you ridiculously or tried desperately to become your new pal? There is no rule that says you need to show your good-side by validating your previous partner's new love. Your stamp of approval is condescending and not necessary. Also, hating on the new person is unfair. They walked in to the relationship because they wanted to be with your ex. It had nothing to do with you and going out of their way to date the person you used to be with just to make you crazy.


Auntie Ozanne's Guide for the Heartbreaker

1b. Don't phone and text your ex all the time. It doesn't matter if you're just checking to see if they're okay. Let the ex take responsibility for the way they choose to grieve your relationship. Sure you might just trying to be nice, but you also send the wrong message. You can't expect the person to move on if you're always playing nice-nice and being emotionally available. If you care, then leave them alone and let them get over you. What's more, don't get baited in to answering texts, calls, and questions about how you feel about them hoping a positive answer will suppress the hurt. It's okay to ignore the text and just let them know later you were busy (which you were, busy living your life), and that answering those questions isn't going to change anything. You can include, "Don't ask anymore," or, "I'm going to have to ask you to stop calling." Remember: if you have an over-sensitive ex, replying or NOT replying will always be the wrong thing to do, and what you say or don't say will be wrong too, so you may as well just not respond if it suits you better. Someone here has to take responsiblity to move on, it may as well start with you.

2b. Save the "I'll Always Love You" bit. Despite the saying, "letting someone down easy" is not easy. It's hearbreaking. It questions their worth as a partner. It makes them feel insecure, and you are made to feel that you put them in this position. So you might cave and tell them things they want to hear. This is a very impulsive thing to do without considering the feelings of your next partner. You simply WON'T always love them. You are in fact, going to move on and love someone else, and your feelings for the ex are going to diminish. It doesn't matter if you think you will always have a soft spot in your heart, you can just end the relationship with a take-care-and-I-wish-you-well approach rather than get sappy letting them think there is still hope in the future since you'll "always be loving them". Plus, the ex now has the power to use your words on your future partner if they become crazy, telling them that you had once said this to try and make them feel lesser than they are. Don't give someone this power. Just be nice when moving on, that's all that's required.

3b. Don't "NOT date" because you think your ex will feel bad. Holding back your life just because someone isn't comfortable with it is not healthy. Not for you, or for the ex. Move on at a pace you need to give the best love you can for your next partner. Show your ex that moving on is possible. If you were both miserable as a couple, but now you're both miserable together just being apart, aren't you still sort of still in a relationship with them in some weird way? They're not letting you go, you're not moving on, so you may as well just be together, right? If that sounds silly, then start living your life. Even if you have children together, as a parent, you are obligated to teach your children how to handle the bad times. Staying together or refusing to date for the sake of the kids is unrealistic. Your children certainly aren't going to grow up and refuse to date for certain reasons just because you didn't. You have one life to live, and every year that goes by rejecting romance and good relationships is one more year that you could have been happy. (This is, of course, doesn't apply if relationships truly aren't your thing and you are genuinely happy being single.)

4b. If being nice wasn't working, don't become an a-hole. Who says that after you tried being nice about it, the only way to get them out of your life is to be a jerk? How about that in-between stuff where maturity prevails? Stuff like, ignoring the calls, the manipulative cries for help, and threats that you'll have your nudes posted on social media. Sometimes, being too nice and giving in and being a complete asshole about things can be equally as non-productive. You add fuel to the fire of their actions of behaving poorly. You will increase their belief that they shouldn't feel badly about doing some damage. Your ex who retaliates with such nonsense DOES make their true colours show even with their own friends. People DO pay attention to who was in the right and wrong, and if your ex threatens to do something hurtful, they would have done it anyway without your reaction. If you do feel the need to react, simply talk with your friends, family, and co-workers that there is a threat that the ex may do something to defame you, whether it's calling them to tell them something rotten about you, or you think they'll post inappropriate things about you online. Warn the people in your life in advance, as it takes the power away from the ex. Consider what will happen if the police are called. If asked how you handled something, and you tell them you were going to punch their cat in the face if they did something, you end up looking just as idiotic as the ex. Be smart, try and learn the art of ignoring, and have class.

5b. Don't sleep with them. A pity fuck is not okay. Even if you have no one else in the picture yet, and even if you or your ex is screaming for relief, no message can be more misconstrued than taking an act that is reserved for two people who love and respect each other and turn it in to a cesspool of confusion afterward. Sex doesn't make it easier, especially to someone still pining for you. Even if you both agree it will be just sex - one of you is going to be lying, and that person is likely your ex who just is grasping at straws to keep you. Let them be hurt with rejection, it will be better than to have them hurt over the breakup, the sex without respect, and the hurt that will inevitably be created afterward because of the lies. What a mess. Just find someone new to go to bed with.

Famous Decent Exes

Okay so some of these people have been coached by their publicists on how to behave after a breakup, sure. But you'd think SOMEthing would leak at some point with how they really feel or how they have reacted toward their ex once the paparazzi is gone. Terrible exes such as Tom Arnold, Alec Baldwin, Kate Gosselin, Paul McCartney, Taylor Swift, Pamela Anderson - all might have had good reasons to hate their exes, but they didn't have to linger on with nasty comments or comments at all. (I'm a Paul McCartney fan, and I cringed with how publicly he expressed his problems with Heather Mills!) You may or may not agree with me, but these people stand out to me about how they handled their exes:

Love or hate him? That's fine. Russell Brand might not be your thing, and how he split with Katy Perry might have been cold, but whenever he was asked about her, he wouldn't budge and only wished her well publicly. He believed that trashing her was in a sense, trashing himself and his choice originally to have married her. Katy has made implications of how he was to live with and even wrote material in her songs hinting at the hurt she endured. She could have very well been in the right, but Russell doesn't comment, and you never hear about him bothering her about it. You just never know - there could be Katy dirt out there, and he's just keeping it to himself.

Oh, the things Elizabeth Hurley COULD have said about Hugh Grant. She just didn't. What a class act.

Rihanna had many opportunities to bad-mouth Chris Brown, even when it was evident of the abuse. She didn't kowtow to pressures from fans who took Chris' side, and simply went on to continue to be beautiful and amazing on her own terms, not because she was proving a point. She let him go and could have done a lot more to ruin his life, but chose to focus on improving her own.

Sean Penn made a great ex-husband to Madonna by not pulling her success away from her with any nonsense. (To her credit, Madonna is pretty tough and could have held her own if he had.) He encouraged her success, was happy for her, and did it all from the sidelines instead of being up-close and appearing to be involved.

Jennifer Aniston was and still is baited over and over to divulge dirt about Brad Pitt, or to express her hurt publicly about the split and how she feels about Angelina Jolie. Each time, she simply refuses to give in. She has nothing to do with Brad, and has moved on (more than once) since their divorce. To his credit, Brad too, does not behave badly either. Whether one is in Camp Jen or Camp Brad, it doesn't change the fact that both, really have been great at just simply moving on.

Ace Frehley. I know. Weird choice in this list, right? But if you know anything about Ace, it's that he is one of the original KISS members and stayed in a long marriage with his ex, Jeanette. KISS made him unhappy, Jeanette made him unhappy, so he turned to drugs, multiple women, he used friends and just let everyone down. Gene Simmons has dogged him in his autobiography and in interviews quite viciously, and a few women have published their stories of their problems with Ace --all of them, just to make a buck and defend themselves about how wronged they were by Ace. Ace's approach to all the backlash was, "I just don't care. What is it going to resolve if I say something about them back?" He had said this specifically in an interview when point-blank asked about his feelings of women like Wendy Moore who had tell-all tales about him. In his own auto-biography, he ignored them all, and in interviews he declined to acknowledge. He had said that Jeanette had a right to be upset with him, but it's past and he was working on himself. A guy with a bad past, but looking ahead, not back. I gotta give that some credit.


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Ozanne is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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Most Helpful Guy

  • (standing ovation) Bravo!

    Very well put! I might have added to both parties, you can be friendly, but you need not remain friends. I have noticed there are three major scenarios when exes remains friends:

    A) Fast forward a few months or years and the two now (for whatever reason) hate each others' guts
    B) Fast forward a few months or years and one of the two gets his/her heart broken all over again when the other starts dating someone else
    C) Fast forward a few months or years and they are still friends

    Sadly, I've noticed A and B are the most likely outcomes.

    Let me ask you, Ozanne, what your thoughts are on remaining friends with your in-laws after the death of a spouse. I have remained friends with mine. They have me over for dinner from time to time. But I have always wondered what would happen if I started dating someone else. When I did recently date someone, I never told my in-laws about it, though it ended before things became serious. Still, I confess I felt conflicted about it.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • i thunk if someone breaks up cleanly and says im moving on its over then you're pretty much going tho be a 'good' ex. no one wants someone who is unequivocally gone. the problem is people dont break up honestly;y and they leave things ambiguous. also if you were a prick well its no ones job to be nice about all the shitty things you've done., if you want to be remembered well, act well. exes dont exist in a vacuum. they have exes that either dated/ broke up honestly or played games., worry about being a good gf/ boyfriend. being / having a good ex follows.

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Join the discussion

What Guys Said 17

  • How to be a great ex: Delete all your ex's contact information and never talk to them again.
    It never fails.

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    • Summarized in TL DR mode. I approve!

    • Yep, especially from social media. It's very counterproductive because obsessing over them, checking their Facebook, twitter, etc just makes you more jealous whether they're seeing someone or not. You're best allowing yourself to heal and then moving on and finding someone else. Thinking about them only delays that process and can make you more stressed and angry depending on how close you were with the ex.

  • "You know, I make a great ex-girlfriend. In fact, guys should date me just so I can become their ex!"
    -My username fits you better πŸ˜†

    "3b. Don't become friends with their parents."
    -Should I ignore/avoid them? Doesn't it sound rude? It wasn't their mistake.

    I think you made mistakes with a and b in the first part of your take.

    And you should have posted three different takes instead of one because it was exhaustive.

    Bottomline: exquisite work πŸ‘

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    • My myTakes are often too long. Sorry. :(

    • Show All
    • I was gonna mention you in this take lmao

    • @Luvme66 thanks lol ☺

  • Congratulations on an extremely well written article! Reading this has inspired me to write another contribution for this site.

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  • Did 2. a
    It was such a bad decision
    the girl told everyone that we did it, and everyone thought i did it because i wanted to be nasty and disrespectful towards my ex but when a girl texts you that she wants to meet up for coffee and you have nothing to do, you go, and let things happen

    i seriously thought she wouldn't make a move but she did, so we went for it lol
    she was like a mutual friend though we were friends before my ex and i were even dating
    I don't know if that makes it better

    Any way great My take! your takes are very insightful

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  • Nuqood's Guide to Being a Great Ex:

    1) No contact with ex; drop them entirely and ignore them. They no longer exist to you and don't matter to you.

    2) If their friends want to sleep with you, have sex with them. Your ex's feelings shouldn't have any impact on what you do with your life.

    3) If your ex is upset about it, she can deal with it. You don't owe her a thing.

    4) DON'T DO ANY OF THE ABOVE OUT OF SPITE! Spite means harbored feelings; Your motivation should not be revenge, but what you'd do before meeting your ex.

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  • Great take. Another one in addition to not sleeping with the ex is dating them on and off. I got rebounded by a girl who dated an ex on and off and she's now back with him and that fucked me up more than it should have in the long term.

    My issue was that I was naive when she complained about the ex and I felt bad for her and wanted to be the opposite of her ex, treat her right, and do everything to make it right and it was a bad move. When you date someone so hung up on their ex and dates them on and off, they'll NEVER get over it and no matter how much the rebounder hits on you or makes you feel special, they're manipulating you and deep down inside they want their ex and you're 2nd best. Who wants to be in that position?

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    • Worst part is she was my closest to a serious relationship and even though I had many dates after her, she'd still be in the back of my mind and thinking about her even though I had opportunities with other women. Not a good position to be in.

      Bottom line is as soon as someone complains about an ex, they are NOT over them. So whenever I see a potential date and they say they just got out of a relationship or complain about an ex, I notice that and see nothing from it because I do not wanna go down that same path.

      For some people, being the best ex is to never communicate with them again, especially if it was a rough relationship.

  • There are a few flaws in this take but it's quite good!

    Do whatever you feel to do to move on with life and don't refrain yourself "because of your ex". That's simply it. Pretty much like @Nuqood said.

    Also revenging acts about break ups doesn't make things any easier ;)

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    • Very true. One time a girl I dated, wasn't an ex because we weren't in a relationship but she manipulated me into thinking she wanted one, but she used me to get back at her ex that she's back with. She said I should make fun of him for his babydick which is weird and rude. So when they got back together I said, you should tell him about the time you asked me to make fun of him for his babydick in case we ran into him. All that did was piss her off and make her talk shit back and she acted like the victim. It didn't break them up or anything and it made me more stressed.

  • I don't really want to be friends with my ex but I guess I keep it cordial because we share mutual friends and she's best friends with my cousin. But you have some great advice for us the only thing I do sometimes is when she talks to me I always respond which I have to stop.

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  • Didn't read it because I didn't like the presumption exes matter or they're staying around as part of ur life.

    Ex means in the past and ex communicate. Nothing good comes from staying friends with ur ex and risk going back to the same bs that made u guys exes in the first place

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    • If you read it you will realise you have the complete wrong end of the stick!

  • Good Take! I don't think 2a is always insincere. On the contrary if there is love involved. But I agree that it may create a whole lot of issues, more so for the ex's friend than yourself.

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  • If all else fails, make a clean break and establish a no contact rule.

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  • I can't say I really have any ex girls, when things ended we moved on, but became friends with benifits. To this day I am close friends with all my "ex" girl friends. My first ex was near 20 years ago, and we still talk and keep up to date.

    Most of us are all married now, we don't fool around anymore, but we still keep in touch.

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    • I often see my exes around. Can't say that I have kept in touch. Most say they can't be friends.

  • He left me by WhatsApp and 2 weeks later I got really really drunk and called him and I don't remember what I told him so :-)))

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  • So be nice and leave them alone. Gotcha.

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  • You can call me Ex.
    :D

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  • If me and you ozanne are no longer dating then me being friends with your parents (who im sure are lovely) and shagging all your friends and even relatives is none of your business as you are an ex and have no say in my personal life.

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  • This is nice. It gives me positive feelings.

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What Girls Said 7

  • how to be a good ex: JUST LEAVE THEM AND EVERYONE THAT THEY KNOW ALONE!

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  • I'm an epic ex like thatβ˜†β™‘β˜†

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  • Best take ever. Thumbs up. This really couraged me even more

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  • I must be the most amazing ex.

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  • Awesome that really helps

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  • Jealous always is difficult thing but then ehh.. We all die

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  • Awesome Take! I've always followed the No Contact rule, once it's over, it's over. Move On.

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