Imagine life is a video game called Emotional Development. Sure, the title ain’t snappy, but the graphics are great. In this game, you play out romantic entanglements. You can only ‘level up’ when you’ve grown positively from your experiences. Think of G4RL as the online instruction manual. People refuse to read it and wonder why they’ve been left on read by Brad at Level Two.
In the upper levels of our metaphor, you see your ex with a new partner. You feel a rush of renewed grief as you mourn the loss of your relationship. You feel jealous of their seemingly carefree happiness. Your pride is wounded by feelings of rejection and inferiority. To use gamer-speak, your ex is the Final Boss. In order to complete the game, you need to have completed the lower levels and honed your emotional development. “Hey, that’s the name of the game!”
Let’s briefly turn our attention to social media. Social media is the shrieking aunt who won’t let us enjoy brunch in peace. She butts into every decent conversation with her flashing notifications. She begs us to agree to terms and conditions so dense they could have been written in oatmeal. Social media and exes do not marry well.
It is possible to remain friends with your ex and stay connected online. The more significant or messy the relationship, the harder this is to achieve without complications. You aren’t obligated to remain friends with your exes. Most of the time, the healthiest thing is to just let go, online and offline. When you’re feeling lonely or sad, Aunty Instagram will sometimes appear at your bedroom door. She will tempt you to join her for mimosas, twenty weeks deep in Brad’s photo-feed.
By all means, bury yourself in your ex’s social media. You will deplete your energy and find yourself back at Level One before you can say “extended metaphor”. You need to sever all online ties to your ex, at least during the immediate aftermath of the breakup. You need a safe, online space to call your own. Seeing images of your ex and their new partner will not lessen your pain. It will not provide reassurance for all the doubts in your mind. It will not explain why they left you. It will not clarify whether you were right to leave them. No mystery was ever solved by a picture of Brad and Karen eating churros in Barcelona. Obsessing over your ex’s new partner will prevent you from focusing on yourself in the here and now.
What if you bump into your ex with their new partner on the street? Or what if you move in the same circle of friends and have to hang out together? How to deal with your ex moving on:
- They are not The Enemy.
It’s time for Feminism 101. We live in a patriarchal society. That’s a fact, not an opinion, sweetie. In our society, it benefits men if women view other women as competitors for male attention. Patriarchy is an entrenched and subtle system. You’re misdirecting your energy by criticising Karen’s outfit. With your focus safely on making snide comments about her looks, Brad can continue to behave however he wants, without taking responsibility for his actions. Rather than acknowledging Brad’s failings and celebrating your worth, you are criticising his new girlfriend. With women fighting each other beneath them, men’s status at the top of the pyramid is comfortably protected.
Your energy should be focused on yourself, while being mindful of who is standing on your neck. Every time you feel tempted to bitch about Karen at brunch, remind yourself that you are contributing to a system that views you as inferior to men. You are doing yourself a huge disservice. You can be a strong woman standing by yourself. You’ll be an even stronger woman standing shoulder to shoulder with other women.
- Nobody is you and that is your power.
If you’re comparing yourself to others, there will always be someone prettier, sexier and cooler than you. Unless you’re Beyoncé, in which case omgcallme. Looking at your ex’s new partner, it’s easy to focus on everything they have and everything you don’t. As well as carrying 160 pounds of dead weight called Brad, they also have shinier hair, nicer trainers and longer legs. It’s a game of comparison where you always lose.
Seeing your uniqueness as the source of your strength is where self-love begins. As ever, the trite things are often the right things. You need to ask yourself: what makes you, you? You become unstoppable when you engage positively with every aspect of your appearance and character. Showcase your unique gifts. Comparing yourself to someone else will not make you any prettier, sexier or cooler. You are worthy of love, especially your own love, exactly as you stand now.
- A relationship isn’t a measure of success or joy.
We only consider someone to have “moved on” when they start dating someone new. After my last breakup, I dated other men in the months that followed. I can safely say that I had not moved on. That arrived later and it happened when I was single. I moved on when my ex stopped having power over my thoughts, feelings or choices. I moved on when I started to really enjoy my own, unique life. I moved on when I was entirely focused on reaching my own goals.
Your ex being in a new relationship does not mean that they’ve figured it all out. It does not mean that they are happy all the time. It does not mean that they are more of a success than you are. Relationships come and go; some relationships endure and some don’t. Maybe they’ll be together for five more weeks, five more months or five more years. Your worth is not measured by whether you are in a relationship with someone else. So you better start looking for your worth elsewhere.
- You can be happy for someone else.
Learning to be genuinely happy for others is the most difficult of difficult things. It’s at odds with our individualistic culture. We’ve all been drawn into the devilry of jealousy. I’m no exception and we talked about it at length here. Real (and realistic) love does not have room for bitterness or revenge.
They loved you and you loved them. You can find peace in their happiness elsewhere. Relationships fall apart for many complicated reasons. The love you shared will always be part of them, just as it is part of you. Let it be an aspect of your joint history. Allow yourself to extend love and graciousness to them.
You aren’t sure if they ever really loved you. In this case, forgiveness is the only way out of the labyrinth. You don’t have to think of them fondly, or think of them at all. Redirect your bitterness into gently wishing them well. Take a deep breath and mentally unshackle yourself. You’re free. You can transform all of that misdirected, negative energy into attentiveness to your own needs. Whoever they’re dating, it will cease to matter to you in time.
Seeing someone else’s happiness as unrelated to your own worth is monumental. Maybe it’s the key to completing Emotional Development. I couldn’t possibly spoil it for you, so you’ll have to play the game for yourself.
G4RL will be back on 14th May with a brand new collab! I’ll be talking about abusive relationships with a truly remarkable woman. So put on your blog belts and get ready for some hard-hitting, heart-warming content. In the meantime, we’ll be tinkering with the site to make it look even prettier, as part of our new focus on Instagram collaborations. Follow Tiny Victories zine on Instagram.
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