I know with certainty: Your pain will not last forever.
Talking to my ex, I kept trying to remind myself that he was the same person he had always been.
If some jerk just broke your heart, read on…
And I’m not the only one using Tinder for a bit of self-confidence, either.
The relationship was no longer serving the needs of your partner and they have ended their commitment to you. It may have been your decision, or it may have been your decision disguised as their decision. Perhaps you were constantly checking his phone and one day, he flew into a rage about it and broke up with you. Everybody wants to know what happened.
The short version, just at the end. You tell people you checked his phone once or twice because you had a sneaking suspicion he was texting a woman from work. And he was, except that it was about work and he broke up with you. Out of nowhere.
The story gains momentum, gets repeated, it was never your fault. Before you know it, you are discussing what kind of person would break up so suddenly? You reach for the DSM-V manual and begin searching for an explanation about his behavior. Could it have been a personality disorder?
There are so many lovely disorders to choose from. Life-long disorders your ex will never recover from. Disorders which doomed your relationship from the start and will prevent them ever meeting anyone else. Look at Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of the requirements is an inability to maintain long-term relationships, which your ex just demonstrated. If only your ex would get help with a therapist or psychoactive drug, maybe it would work. Someone needs to tell them there is help out there!
You write an email offering your ex some advice. “I have come to realise it wasn’t you that ended the relationship, but the patterns of grandiose thinking, sense of entitlement and lack of empathy characteristic of your narcissistic personality disorder. I’m here to help. Call me.”
They don’t call you. Who wouldn’t want to overcome a life-long disease? A narcissist, that’s who! You tell everyone, especially your mutual friends, your ex is a ticking bomb just walking around un-diagnosed. What about an intervention with all our mutual friends? Let’s start a campaign. Would crowd-funding be out of the question? We could raise money for ten sessions and a firm diagnosis.
You read the list of criteria again for narcissism. “Believes that he or she is special and unique” is one of them. Then you realise you feel like that, as well. You look for a less relatable offense. “Exaggerates achievements and talents.” He certainly did that. You are also guilty of this. “Excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self.” This is getting tricky, because you worry what people think of you all the time.
You successfully diagnose yourself with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Wait, it says that narcissists never see themselves this way and are resistant to treatment. You search around for another personality disorder to diagnose yourself with. Now you are kind of depressed but extremely well researched about this. Meanwhile, he has a new girlfriend. You stop researching what your issues might be and go back on the offensive.
His new girlfriend has no idea what’s in her future. Maybe you should warn her via a Facebook message. You will generously explain her current boyfriend is a pathological narcissist, which is hard to spot. It’s all about early detection and she is going to be so grateful. You just want her to be safe. To have a happy life. You notice there are baby photos on her Facebook page. In the time you have polished your diagnostic skills, they have had a child together. The child is so unaware.
When people ask you if you have a boyfriend, you say you are not ready. You are recovering from an abusive ex. That gets their attention. He was comorbid with borderline/narcissistic personality disorder on the autism spectrum. It’s rare, but luckily you caught it in time.
You don’t get out much. People speak to you and you hear clusters. These are subset patterns of behavior which lurk under criteria. You wonder if you should see a therapist. You do. You ask the therapist if they think you have a personality disorder and they tell you no. It’s a relief. You get an ice-cream on the way home and eat it in the car. It’s been years since you ate ice-cream in the car, watching people stroll by. It’s nice. It’s a nice feeling. Your therapist said underneath the disorder, under the criteria, under the clusters there is something else. She said that’s where you are. That’s where you can live.
Image via Shutterstock
The value women place on relationships tends to vary. I don’t have a boyfriend. I’ve never had one. But i’m entirely cool with that. I’m the first to admit that I’m a driven, self-absorbed person. I’ve always got three or four projects on the go and the centrepiece is always me. There’s not much room in my life for anyone else, so I’m generally bent on a fly-by-night romance rather than a relationship. That’s fine. That’s how I like it. That, to me, feels normal.
But I know lots of women who are in one relationship after another after another. When they’re not, they lament the lack of a man in their lives until the next one comes along. I don’t understand it. How can these intelligent, talented, switched on girls be so governed by the presence or absence of a partner? Women who have their own lives, careers, stories and are still not satisfied? Really?
I’m not here to judge, but I’ve always wondered why these women are so willing to put themselves through the anxiety of one relationship, let alone multiple relationships, in their 20’s. I’m very good at mopping up the mess after their latest break-ups. It’s psychological torture to watch them suffer. But when the next fella comes a-knockin’, it’s like the past never happened and the cycle starts again.
What?! In my early 20’s, I’ll admit I thought these girls were somewhat…lacking. I was perfectly satisfied without a relationship. However, over the last couple of years, I’ve been examining my mindset. It appears that the majority of the population craves some sort of romantic partnership at some point. Regardless of the complications, frustrations and paranoia, the happy parts are seemingly worth it. Perhaps that’s why people look at me strangely when I tell them, “I don’t do boyfriends.”
I will admit that sometimes, when I see couples walking down the street, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling. I may even feel a pang of jealousy. But I don’t need to indulge that. I saunter past and make eyes at the next cute guy I see, my primal instinct sufficiently quashed. The problem is I’ve started to wonder whether I ignore this primal instinct because I want to, or because it’s not part of my ‘image’. Worst of all; I’ve started to feel guilty about it.
I’m aware that there are other women with the same attitude, but by and large, most of my female friends are at least open to having a relationship. This, contrary to what I used to believe, makes me the weird one. By all good reasoning; I am the one who is lacking. But lacking what? The ability to open up? This isn’t true. The ability to relate to people? Definitely not. Maybe I lack the ability to embrace change. I really don’t have the answer yet. At this point in time, I’m pretty set in my ways when it comes to the concept of coupling. However, when I observe the euphoric highs of my boyfriend-ed up buddies (when the going’s good) and the iron-bound love my parents have for each other, I know I’m missing something.
I’ll probably be that clichéd alpha-female who is swept off her feet by the right guy. If that happens tomorrow, or in 10 years, well, I’m open to it. But for the time being, I’m happy to be accountable to nobody, and indulge numerous outrageous flings. It suits me. So to other women who don’t like the idea of partner-dom; you’re not alone, you’re not a freak and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. The time for relationships will come, but maybe it’s just not right now.
Image via Askmen.com
Ladies, it’s time to open the X-files. Shudder!
Passionate feelings such as love and hate are inextricably linked; for this reason, I do not believe men and women can truly be friends post-breakup. At least, not until many, many years have passed.
In addition, if you’ve loved someone with all your heart, and they’ve exited from your life – note the emphasis on ex – why would you invite them back in? Especially if you’re trying to move on and date someone new?!
And sure, there are exceptions to the rule: if you’ve got children together, then that’s clearly a major game changer and, whether you like it or not, you’re bound to each other for life and must stay civil for the sake of your children.
Case in point: actor Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin who stunned the world when they “consciously uncoupled” in March 2014. The pair, who has two kids together, split after an 11-year marriage. And, in an emotional and somewhat bizarre statement, they asked for privacy at the time to “consciously uncouple and co-parent”, while Gwynnie’s Goop website talked of holistic “wholeness in separation”.
While the tabloids labelled the couple’s statement as “new-age tosh”, it’s surely an admirable sentiment to be as loving as you can towards the mother or father of your children. But, outside of celebrity La La land, with all its privileges, this can be significantly tougher in real life.
And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of dating someone who’s not over their ex – I don’t envy Jennifer Lawrence one bit, as she’s allegedly dating Martin – it can feel like there’s three of you in a relationship and things can get way too crowded.
We all have baggage, but is it ever OK to be friends with an ex? And how does this affect your current relationship?
SHESAID went in search of answers, consulting a top clinical psychologist who specialises in relationships for insight into this complex issue.
Q: Is it ever OK to be friends with an ex?
A: Whether or not you are friends with an ex will depend very much on the circumstances that lead to your break-up. If it was a mutual decision to part and the separation was amicable, then you might choose to remain on good terms and take an interest in the well-being of each other as time goes by. However, if the relationship was toxic and the separation hostile, being friends with your ex is the last thing you’ll want.
Q: How do you cope when your partner is still close to their ex?
A: It can be very difficult for a partner whose loved one remains on good terms with an ex. We all suffer, to varying degrees, from insecurity, and the more insecure you feel, the more difficult it will be to accept that your partner wants to keep in touch with and even spend time with an ex. It begs the question – why? Of course, if there are children involved there is a reason to stay in contact with an ex – for the well-being of the children. In this situation, a certain amount of contact is inevitable and the best approach is to accept the situation gracefully and make interactions with your partner’s ex as stress-free as possible. But if there is no good reason for your partner to stay in touch with his/her ex, and if it really bothers you, your partner should respect your feelings and cut contact.
Q: What if your partner lies about catching up with an ex?
A: If your partner lies about catching up with an ex you’ve got a problem. You’ll be asking yourself why he/she felt the need to lie. Approach the situation in as mature, calm and non-confrontational manner as you can; after all, shouting and abusing him/her won’t help. But if your partner is being dishonest about catching up with an ex, and doesn’t have a very good reason for the deceit, it’s probably time to make some hard decisions about ending the relationship.
Q: Does having an ex always threaten a current relationship?
A: Not necessarily, it’s more about how the other partner feels and whether the person having contact with the ex is prepared to take their partner’s feelings into consideration. If he/she ignores your wishes and feelings and maintains the contact when it makes you feel very uncomfortable or miserable, then the problem is more about the lack of consideration being shown for your feelings and wishes. That might be enough to threaten the relationship.
Q: Should a man or woman urge their current partner to also be friends with an ex to lessen the threat?
A: They could try if staying in contact with the ex means so much to them. This would be helpful it there are visits from children involved. Trying to be friends with your partner’s ex would probably work better if the ex has a partner – that would help to alleviate feelings of jealousy and insecurity and fears that your partner is still attracted to his/her ex. Bring these feelings into the open and discuss them with your loved one – again, if your relationship is good, he/she should be considerate of your feelings and cut or reduce contact with their ex.
What do you think? Can you be friends with your ex?
Main image via www.tmz.com; secondary image via perezhilton.com; third image via www.quora.com and final image via eclectikramblings.wordpress.com.