November 29, 2012

You Don’t Hate Your Ex’s New Significant Other, You Hate Your Ex

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There is an awful tendency we have as humans to excuse even the most egregious misdeeds in the people we love. When combined with our propensity towards jealousy and insecurity, it makes for an extremely unpleasant display of our more reptilian brain. When we are cheated on, for example, it is often easier to direct the more brutal edge of your hatred towards the “other person,” rather than taking a painful look at the person you love and who you thought loved you just as much. We direct our anger in the only way it can go that doesn’t require directly calling into question our relationship.

And when you lose someone you love, when you feel as though you were kicked out of a home you considered your own for so long, few things are more painful than to see your love being happy with someone new. Especially if you were left for this new person, but even if their romance started some time after the fact, it feels as though someone has moved into our territory and planted their flag with no thought as to who may have been there first. We built so much into this person, this person we considered ours for so long, is now perfectly content without us. While our happiness is still almost fully dependent on the whims of someone else, they seem to have forgotten we exist.

We remember them as is easiest and most comfortable, at their best. No one wants to think that they loved someone so much who wasn’t kind, who didn’t care about us, who didn’t need us as we did them. It is more pleasant to paint them in the most gentle, flattering portrait, excusing every flaw they may have had and the fact that we were only too happy to want them in spite of it. This new person — a person who is as much a mystery to us as our ex is a known entity — has no rich history that needs to be explained away to justify their new behavior. You don’t love them, you don’t wish they loved you, and they offer only a great threat to your happiness.

It is easy to turn them into a monster. You can assume the worst and risk nothing when it comes to your own relationship. You stand to gain nothing by being friends with them, by being kind, by giving them the benefit of the doubt. While there is still an ugly, jealous part of you that wants the person back who so brutally left you — or at least for them to tell you they still love you so you can do the rejecting this time — there is no part of you that yearns for the approval of their new love. In fact, it’s easiest if they hate you. It allows you to further your dislike of them, to place more of the blame on them, to call them crazy and assume no responsibility.

But we don’t really hate them. We don’t even know them. Hell, chances are that we’d probably really like them if we got to know them. They are not some soulless demon who wormed its way into your love’s life to ruin yours. They are a human being with an actual heart, who is capable of seeing the same wonderful things we once did in the person we loved. The truth is that we are simply hurt, every inch of our pride battered by our ex’s ability to just toss us aside and ostensibly recreate all that was so unique to us with someone who doesn’t resemble us at all. And this pain, this fractured pride, has nowhere tangible to go except directly to the person who is perhaps least deserving. We don’t want to yell, we want to cry. We want to be held, to be told that we’re still worth loving even if the person whom we love the most doesn’t think so anymore.

It may be the hardest thing to do, but it is crucial to remind ourselves at every step that no matter how much your broken heart wants to convince you of hating a stranger, they are not who we are angry with. We are angry with our ex, and maybe even ourselves a bit for having let them get away. But the truth is, hating a third party will not bring your ex back — and even if it did, would you really want it? Would you want to be a love only worth keeping once you’ve played around and had your fill of something else? There is nothing to be gained from being cruel, from perpetuating the cycle of hurt feelings and misdirected anger. Hate-reading a Facebook page to find out everything you can possibly dislike about someone only wears on your own heart, and turning into someone petty enough to do it will never make someone love you again. TC mark

 

image – Leland Francisco
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