From Our Readers
May 09, 2015 7:00 am

A number of years ago I found myself going through a super tumultuous divorce. We didn’t have a lot of property to divide, but there were kids in the equation. This added a layer of “fight” to what was already a really stressful experience. In the beginning the hurt was so fresh for both of us that we spent most of our conversations throwing fiery verbal darts. For me, this felt really good to “get it out” and give him a piece of my mind. I quickly noticed something, though. That gratification was really temporary, and it didn’t seem to have the defeating effect I wanted it to have on my ex. It just left me feeling…yucky.

I began to evaluate that yucky feeling, and realized that the more I was nice to my ex, even during the rough stuff, the nicer I was to myself. Here’s why it’s worth avoiding the insults (if you can) and trying to be nice to your ex, even if the wound is still pretty fresh.

Being nasty doesn’t fix what happened

One-upping your ex in conversations or conflicts does not create for you or restore to you the independence from the relationship that you desire. I found myself hoping that if I got in one last word, that I would feel like the stronger one. There were some really unhealthy dynamics to our relationship (hence its failure) so I had a very real need to regain some autonomy. The harder I tried to establish this autonomy by using clever words or sassy come-backs, the less independent I felt. In fact, it actually made me feel a bit dependent on him for a sort of reverse approval.

Your rage (even if it’s rightful) won’t change their mind about the split

Being anything except nice is not going to solve anything. You broke up because you disagreed on what felt like too many things. Chances are, no matter how much you talk things out or fight or scream, you’re still going to disagree. The uglier you get, the more pronounced those differences become. You’re never going to succeed in changing the other person’s mind just because you tried to be louder or talk longer.

Being nice to others means you’re nicer to yourself

It feels nice to be nice. It actually doesn’t matter to whom. When I know that I’ve chosen to be kind, I feel good about myself. It’s kind of addicting.

 Your ex has feelings, too

I know. I know. There are times when you could swear that your ex must be some sort of non-human forest creature (think sasquatch) or an emotionless alien robot, but the truth of the matter is that they’re not. They got feels too. You know that because you were with them for a reason. Try to respect that if you can.

It speeds up the healing process

The moment you choose to believe that  you are still great without being attached to your ex, the faster you will notice the really beautiful things in the world. Revenge is nothing but a preoccupation. It’s a distraction. You want options.

It leaves the door open in the event, however unlikely, that you might get back together

This may seems far-fetched when you’re in the “Never, ever, ever getting back together” dregs of a breakup, but you know what? It happened to me. Before I met the man I made children with, I dated a really cool guy. Things just didn’t work out. We parted ways and, even though it hurt terribly bad, we stayed nice. After my marriage to my kids’ dad ended, I remembered him. Because there hadn’t been any awkward or unnecessary fighting or ugliness, it was totally comfortable to start talking again. We are now married and blissfully happy.  You may not ever marry your ex, but, if you’re nice, it won’t be hard to ask for help or build friendships with them or the people close to them down the road. Keep those bridges well constructed.

It speaks well of you

 When you choose to be nice, you are also showing yourself to be trustworthy, stable (because let’s be real, being vengeful isn’t cute), approachable and safe.If you embrace the strength it takes to be nice when your heart has been broken, you’re not only making it easier on yourself in the long run, you’re saying that you’re the kind of sane, cool person that anyone would want to date.

Sarah is a lover of fashion, makeup artistry and the smell of old books. She is a nomad at heart who spends her life devoted to loving as many people as possible including her three (so far) kiddies, her giant family of 30 first cousins and her husband with a beard so awesome it gets them stopped on the street on the reg. She blogs at thislifeisarecipe.blogspot.com.

Advertisement