Dealing with ex’es

All of this is very personal, but I feel like there are nontrivial things about this situation that may be of independent interest. I’d like to address the way to deal with an ex- romantic partner. Almost always, this person deserves some respect, just for the fact that they tolerated us for an extensive period of time. But to my surprise, how nice I am to them now is not proportional to how nice they were to me during the relationship. Instead, it’s more like inversely proportional. The person that was more sweet to me appears not genuine when the relationship ends – I ask myself if all those feelings were a lie? Whereas the person that expressed more dissatisfaction with the relationship as it progressed seems more logical and trustworthy – since the relationship has actually ended, maybe they were right. Of course, I should specify that in both cases I talk about the relationships that end due to circumstances and unwillingness to overcome them, not jealousy or character mismatch.

There is a form of jealousy that bothers me though. Basically, since I am at the very bottom of life, pretty much any next romantic partner they have will be better off than me. And I tend to feel bad when it is thrown in my face. I feel like everybody should have a reasonable humility about their financial status. I don’t want the first thing I learn in a rare conversation with an ex to be that they are buying a new house etc. That may well be a big thing for them, but if they want to get along with me, maybe changing the subject would be a good idea.

But that’s not only about financial status. They may also be at a different stage of life than me, with children being the new priority while for me it’s still work. In that case, it becomes meaningless to keep in touch just because even though we could have been friends at the same stage of life, it’s unlikely to be friends when stages of life mismatch and there’s nothing that we have in common anymore.

I prize myself for the fact that even if I feel more bored and irritated by a person by the end of the relationship compared to the first impression, I still am able to find good sides in that person, and come up with ways to have fun spending time together. So if the relationship ended, it’s definitely not because I became bored. Just in terms of finding stuff to do, I can go on forever with any given person.

Finally, being friends right after the relationship has ended is not a good idea altogether. Every time they are reminded about us, the feelings get continued. It is wise to have a break from seeing each other, even if one of the couple tends to ask for attention. When it is clear that the relationship is over, feeding the lonely feelings only makes things worse. One shouldn’t be rude to the partner, but should restrict communication. And it’s important to be very clear about the reason why communication is being restricted (reason is to let the feelings die quietly) – ambiguity adds a lot to the pain of breakup. All of the above is easier said than done: how would you say to a person that’s not logical that the feelings have to “die quietly”. The only thing you can do is be nice and very clear about the fact that the relationship did not work. And within a period of about 1 year it is impossible to predict how much the other person is missing you/hating you after the breakup, so demanding them to be your friend within that period is not such a good idea. Then the feelings get reevaluated, and reminding that person about yourself becomes safe.

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How to break up with someone

This is a Hindu epic with an epic breakup in the end. The movie is kind of long, but it pays off: by the end the characters figure something out about breakups. My observations are a bit less general, but maybe will work for somebody:

When two people are in relationship, at some point one of them feels it’s impossible to continue. And the key word is “feels”. It is typically not due to some cruel circumstances or irreversible mistakes they made. It’s just the way first person feels. Yet if that person is just honest about their feelings, the partner’s natural reaction will be to “fix” it – think constructively, find out what’s wrong and ask for another chance! This is exactly what the first person doesn’t want to happen (remember, that person feels like it’s impossible to be with his partner any longer, and trying to fix things just means staying with that impossible partner indefinitely).

So the first person decides to fabricate some sort of impossible circumstance or find some inherent flaw in their partner. Note that “inherent flaw” is a powerful tool in narration, one of the foundations of drama etc. If the first person is more honest than that, and cannot tell an outright lie, they may just decide to not say anything. Cut all ties and stop talking to their partner, leaving them in dismay and confusion. The partner will go through both phases anyway: trying to “fix” it and perceiving some inherent flaw within themselves. So it appears that the better way out is to fabricate some story: “I have to move to another city” or the likes of it. The partner will accept it faster and suffer less.

Yet I would like to encourage a better resolution than the two listed: not just honest, but honest and brave. If you are breaking up with someone, let them know but don’t leave them immediately. Let their feeling sink in, let them try to “fix” it, as repulsive as it may seem. And then help them get over their low self esteem. And only then leave. I wonder if many people are as selfless as that.