What's healthier: Still bringing up your ex five-hundred moons after you broke up with him, or, say, doing a search for his name on Flickr and gaining access to his latest photo uploads in the privacy of your own apartment and/or cube?
Am I less insane for airing the fact that I can't get over a girl I haven't seen in the flesh since "Frasier" was on, or am I more mentally robust if I stay mum on her hold over me while examining the Facebook page of everyone we ever mutually knew to see if she's posted anything on their walls or was in any of their photo albums?
These are all trick questions. The real sign of sanity -- the only sign of it in this case -- is letting go of the person you're no longer with and moving the hell on. I write this having had personal experience with how hard it is. I write this without judgment for you people out there who cannot get a grip and still flee the salad line at Panera when you think you spot your ex in the adjacent sandwich line, even if he lives 3,000 miles away and probably isn't suddenly into henna elbow tattoos and wearing backpacks.
Look, I was you. I know people like you. And I'm telling you to stop it already.
How, you ask? I'm not really sure, actually. Let's talk it out.People You'll Never, Ever Get Over
Let's just go ahead and state that there are some people you can't get over. Ever. These are the people who haunt you forever, the ones who appear confused at a parking meter 20 years after breaking your heart as you're pulling into an adjacent spot and cause you to inadvertently hit the gas and smash through a Chipotle window. These are the people who you can go months without thinking about, hear their same first name spoken, and immediately fall into a deep blue wallow as you become the loneliest manatee in the world, chomping on seagrass at the bottom of a lonely sea, listening to The National on waterproof headphones.
Look, my mom will never fully get over my dad. She's moved on, she loves her current dude whom she's been with forever, but if you bring up my old man you can see the flicker of hurt in her eyes. It lasts only a few seconds, but it's there.
I think we need to accept that there are certain people whom we never get over. They've scarred us deeply, and every once in a while we pick at the scar and sort of mope and feel blue. There's nothing really wrong with this so long as you can continue your life, meet new people and not obsess about it.
People You Need to Get Over
I don't care if you had the hottest connection since bread slicers and bread -- if you weren't with someone for at least like a year and you still talk about, obsess over, and stalk him, you've got to move on.
First, do us all a favor and stop whining about it. Seriously. After a while it all becomes incredibly self-involved, like you want to be known as the heartbroken one. True tragic romance is when people who really should be together aren't because of something terrible, like death or deception or David Duchovny. If you were just dating someone for a little bit, even if you really were crazy about him, and you broke up, you don't get to whine about it for longer than the relationship actually lasted.
Perhaps there's our metric. You dated for two months? You get like a month. Let's go halfsies here. A year-long relationship gives you a six month Whine & Complain For Free card. If the relationship was less then a month, really, keep the moaning to yourself.
This is not to say you can't quietly stew. I love a good solo stew session. I've been summarily rejected by plenty of girls, but really the ones that sting the most are the ones where I went out on a date or three, they got to know me a little, then they gave me the high hat.
The thing I've tried to do as I've gotten a bit longer in the tooth is not bring this stuff up to my friends. I mean look at Retail Girl
, I pined over her a good long while, but after she admirably re-taught me how effective the Slow Fade
is, I did my best to lick my wounds in private, knowing that in reality I went on one 'date' with this person and didn't need to bore my friends with the fact that I was the mayor of Blue City for a while.
The Way to Mourn
Here's a key point: Pining is one thing; resentment is quite another. So, sure, if someone screwed you over big time, say cheated or pulled a brutal Michael Douglas after many months of dating, you have every right to be like "that guy sucks and I hope he gets scabies." Up to a point. After a while, though, holding onto all that resentment is not healthy, and spewing that resentment out loud is social suicide.
First of all, the best revenge is living well, remember? Going around bad-mouthing your ex just makes you look pathetic after a while. Instead of telling the world how small his dick is, go out and make some new, less-awful memories. Short of your ex kidnapping your mom and forcing her to eat her weight in froyo, you need to jettison the rage, at the very least in front of people.
Purely from a public-persona standpoint, outright resentment of exes is a lose-lose proposition. First, you're putting it out there that you were savagely dumped. Second, you're admitting you're far from over it. Third, you're proving you're incapable of being strong about it and shrinking into name-calling and general bad behavior. And fourth, it makes you appear unstable and unattractive to potential suitors. This is for everyone here -- gals and dudes. When you talk about someone, the person you're talking to will unconsciously note that one day, your venom will likely be used in describing him or her. Just shut up.
I think we all owe it to ourselves to mope when we want. It's part of just dealing with life. I still allow myself the random keel into sadness over people I haven't seen in so long I'm not even sure they really remember me. I think a measure of this kind of thing is healthy, a bit of self-pity is always a good excuse to buy a more expensive bottle of wine then you typically would, and sometimes it just feels good to be sad.
It's when it begins to take over your life, prevents you from finding someone new, or is a source of constant anger is when you need to take a step back. Look at it this way: If you're still harping on someone long after the relationship ended, you might give people the idea that your ex was right in dumping you.
[Redacted] Guy is the resident single guy writer for Lemondrop. One time we got chocolate in his peanut butter, and he wept for days.
You can send him hate mail and love letters here, and follow him on Twitter.
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