Marti Schodt
December 31, 2015 10:46 am

When I break up with someone I ship them off to an imaginary island where they roam free and make coconut snowmen and live very happy, very celibate lives far, far away from me. It’s a pretty effective system; I don’t think about what they’re doing or whom they’re doing it with, and gradually the left over feelings start to fade. But sometimes my island refugees escape via social media raft and decide it’s time to tell Facebook all about their super awesome new relationships. And then I want to escape to a remote, Internet-free island IRL.

Seeing your ex with someone new is always going to be weird, no matter how shark-infested your island waters, or how long you’ve left them stranded. Here’s how to deal with the weirdness and get back to the mainland, because you have far more important things to do than worry about who your ex is smooching.

You start Internet stalking their new partner WAY too hard

It’s funny how fast a simple “in a relationship” status can devolve into creeping on your ex’s new girlfriend’s sister’s wedding photos. It’s a slippery slope, and no matter how strong your self-control, eventually you’re gonna end up looking at her profile pictures and the profile pictures of everyone she’s known since 2009.

The fix: My advice is to block them both the second the status appears. It’ll keep you from creeping and you’ll move on faster if you don’t have the capability to dig deep into her past.

You compare yourself to this new person in every way that matters—and every way that doesn’t

Is she prettier than me? Is she smarter? Is she taller? Is she funnier? Does she have a better job? Does she have more friends? For some reason your brain always tricks you into thinking that you’re in competition with the new person in your ex’s life, which is silly since A) she already has the ex and B) you don’t really want the ex anyways.

The fix: It’s important to remember that your relationship ended for a reason, and that no matter how similar or different you are to the you-replacement, that isn’t going to change the fact that you and your ex weren’t a good match. So stop comparing and start blocking, because she might be looking at your profile and thinking the same thoughts, and neither of you deserves to feel inferior.

You wonder if your ex’s family and friends are comparing you to this new partner, and then you wonder who’s ‘winning’

This is going to be difficult, especially if you were close to your ex’s family and friends. You probably haven’t talked to them since the breakup, so you don’t know how they feel about you now that you’re the ex, and you’ll probably never know how they feel about you in comparison to the new girlfriend/boyfriend.

The fix: The cool thing about this is that since you don’t know what they’re feeling, you get to decide. If you want to believe that they love you the most, then go with that. No one’s here to prove you wrong, so tell yourself whatever you need to hear and accept that as the answer.

You start to either deeply hate or deeply love this new stranger you’ve never met before

She’s the worst. You just know it. You can feel it in you bones. Or, she’s incredible, she’s everything you’re not. Either way, you can’t stop thinking about her—it’s like she’s the closest person in your Internet life, for better or worse.

The fix: My advice is to regard her with the same level of interest and companionship that you would anyone who shares a similar life experience. You don’t have to like her, but you should respect her, because she’s probably going to deal with the same weird things that you dealt with in your own relationship with your ex.

You get really angry with your ex all over again

This is kinda valid. You’re hurting and they’re kissing. It isn’t fair, and it never will be, so the best thing to do is belt some power ballads and move on. Calling your ex and yelling at them won’t change anything, it’ll just make you cringe in later years when you’ve met someone new and can’t believe you were hung up on that jerk for so long.

The fix: If the power ballads don’t do the trick, there’s actually some really awesome self-help books out there that might help you put it all in perspective. When I broke up with my ex I found It’s Called a Breakup Because it’s Broken by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt and Exorcising Your Ex: How to Get Rid of the Demons of Relationships Past by Elizabeth Kuster really helpful. There’s no shame in self-help, and it’s always better than yelling.

You can’t stop talking about your ex and it’s really starting to be an issue

Your family and friends love you, they do, but they probably don’t want to hear about your ex anymore. I know, it sucks. You have so many feelings to share and you need someone to share them with. There is definitely value in talking it over with someone close to you, but be considerate of their time and patience.

The fix: Try asking a friend if they’d be willing to sit down with you and discuss it at length, and then keep the ex/ex’s new love stuff contained to that conversation and not every casual chat. Boundaries are important, and you can’t let your past ruin your present relationships.

You decide that it’s time to flirt with EVERYONE

Sometimes, when you find out your ex has moved on, your brain broadcasts the following message on repeat: “Hurry up and find someone too!”  You message everyone on Tinder, you go to all the parties, and you tip a little extra at the coffee stand where the cute barista works. You shave your legs, you watch makeup tutorials, you buy pretty new things, you do anything and everything you can think of to get some attention, and then you still feel icky. Suddenly, you’re almost in an imaginary competition with your ex, which you just can’t win. It’s amazing to want to get your flirt on and flaunt your fabulous self, but it’s no fun when you feel pressure to do it.

The fix: Instead of looking to an outside source for approval, maybe take a couple days to re-anchor yourself. Make a list of all the things you do well and all the good qualities you possess and then spend a little time coloring or reading or running or whatever helps you decompress. Basically, you need to fall back in love with yourself. That’s the only person who matters in this scenario.

You just want to listen to sad songs and stare out the window, OK?

I have a specific ‘in-my-feelings’ playlist and when I’m sad I like to stare out windows and get really melodramatic about how I’ve lost the love of my life and I’ll never find anyone to cuddle with and feed me chocolates. Sometimes wallowing in your feelings is a good thing, and sometimes it’s really counterproductive.

The fix: If you too are a fan of sad songs and rainy days, I suggest you make a second playlist of upbeat-jiggy songs to play after you’ve used up all your feelings songs. Mine is called, “SUCK IT UP, BAE” and it makes me dance and giggle and stops the feelings in their tracks.

Just remember, you’re fabulous, you’re fierce, and someday you’re going to be the ex with the new lover. Until then, make the island, block the exes, and keep the focus on yourself, not anyone else.

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