Taking on the role of “ex” can be difficult. First of all, you probably just went through an emotional breakup. Words were said. Texts were fired. Wine was consumed. Whether you broke things off, or whether you were broken off with, you are in a tough spot and you are probably drained. It’s not simple to just walk away, since pieces of your former love are scattered throughout your apartment, and your social media profiles. Now you have albums to delete, photos to trash; you’ll have to stop yourself from checking his status every five minutes to see if he’s posted an obscure lyric that could be in reference to you, or a photo of his new girlfriend.
However, there are right ways and wrong ways of going about this. You CAN be an awesome ex, and here are some ways to do it:
1. Do not send him an “I Miss You” e-mail.
It’s 2am, you’ve been up all night in some weird K-hole, or re-watching Ever After on Netflix, and suddenly you feel the urge to message your ex. So you send him this long, rant-y e-mail basically saying that you miss him, and you even quote a few poems. You’re so swept up in nostalgia and feelings, you don’t even bother to proofread before you hit “send.” Why is this so wrong? Because it’s sending hella mixed messages! Unless you actually want to get back together with this person, writing them letters is misleading. Furthermore, never make any life-altering decisions past midnight.
2. Don’t keep in contact with his mom.
I know you loved his mom. She was the best. But if you say farewell to your significant other, you must say farewell to his mother too.
3. Wish him a happy birthday, but don’t get too creative.
An amicable “Happy birthday!” on Facebook, or even a brief text is okay. Your life was deeply and intensely intertwined with his at one point, so it’s totally normal to want to honor his day of birth. But don’t go overboard. Don’t be setting up surprise parties, buying him a new iPad or Tommy Hilfiger button-up. Nope. Not your place anymore.
4. Do not tag him in #tbt photos.
I would say a past relationship is a bit deeper and more complex than a “throw back.” I briefly dated a guy whose ex-girlfriend would constantly post old prom pictures and pictures of them together in high school on his Facebook (or was it Myspace at that time? Whatever). It was kind of weird, and it seemed like there was a part of her that still believed there was something between them, something not worth letting go of.
5. If you meet his new girlfriend, be kind. And don’t stalk.
Don’t stalk her Pinterest and then buy products she’s pinned. Or surreptitiously breeze through her LinkedIn and compare your resumé to hers. Or tell all your friends how gross she is. New girlfriends haven’t done anything wrong, and they most likely have a lot to live up to!
6. Do not cast voodoo spells.
Not that you would, but I thought I would make sure.
7. Try not to talk massive sh**
It’s easy to fall into the gossip trap, and blather away about our exes. It feels really good to just let it all out! How they weren’t very good kissers, that their pancake-making game was pretty pathetic, how much you hated their music taste. Just don’t venture into the dark side: spreading rumors, talking to his co-workers, etc. Gossip can ruin lives, and you really don’t want to do that, as tempting as it seems, and as awesome as Blair Waldorf makes it look.
8. Don’t “grab lunch” too frequently
I know people who constantly make lunch or brunch dates with their exes, and while I totally support a healthy, platonic relationship with your ex, you don’t want to get too close either. Not many can pull off a friendship after a breakup (and if you can, by all means, go forth!); it could grow stifling, or awkward if he mentions someone new, or if YOU mention someone new. In fact, your new people might really not like the fact that you’re getting lunch so often.
9. Don’t post pictures just to make him jealous.
Because that’s just silly and immature. And sorry to say it, but it’s obvious. Instead, spend this energy actually having fun and meeting other people.
10. Do give him some distance if that’s what he wants
Especially if you were the one to break things off, give your ex some time to heal. If he doesn’t want to talk to you, then don’t force it. I know we all want closure, but that can come later.
11. Try your best to be happy for him.
Ultimately, you shared time and memories together, and you probably learned a thing or two about relationships. Even if your relationship ended on a sour note, be the bigger person. Do try to forgive him. Don’t let the past loom over your future. Things didn’t work out for a reason, and you never know what that reason might be. Move on, but appreciate the good you did have.