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.
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.