The reason the windshield is so big and the rearview mirror is so small is because where we’re going is much more important than where we’ve been. Sometimes, while stepping forward into the world of dating, we unfortunately get tripped up by still being overly focused on the past. So, how do you stop letting your Exes get in the way? Here are seven tips that will help you loosen the grip any Ex may have on you. The better you are at handling your Exes, the more space you’ll have to let new love into your life.
Honesty is the best policy. When it comes to Exes this doesn’t mean telling them off or reminding them of what they did wrong. It’s the exact opposite. It’s being honest with yourself about the strange cocktail of emotions that a break-up can trigger—anything from sadness to suffering, longing to jealousy. If you’re unresolved in any way about your Ex, these underlying feelings can become unnecessary baggage in your dating life. Make an effort to be honest with yourself.
2. No Fault Policy
Whether you feel like you were a victim or a volunteer with your Ex, it’s better not to place blame. The more fixated you are on getting even, proving a point, or feeling vindicated, the less available you are to nurture warm, fuzzy feelings for someone else. By lowering your pointer finger, you’ll find that you’re now free to hold hands with someone new.
3. Clear Boundaries
When your boundaries are clear you can spend less time and energy protecting yourself. Draw lines in the sand with your Ex. Know your limits and be direct about what they are. Then, you’ll be able to choose who gets under your skin and who stays at arm’s length.
4. Be Quiet
Talk less. Listen more. When you converse with your Ex, be willing to hear their requests and respond without getting defensive. If discussions don’t work, you may want to use email instead. It’s easier to be clear and to avoid engaging in go-nowhere, exhausting conversations in writing. Writing (and reading) information in an email prevents you from reacting. Don’t push their buttons. Don’t build your case. Don’t say things that will incite arguments. You might not hear love calling if you’re in a screaming match with your Ex.
5. A New Approach
Come on, if you keep playing the same old song you keep dancing the same old dance. If your interactions with your Ex keep producing the same unsatisfying outcome, for goodness sake, try a different approach. Dr. Robert Sapolsky, a neurobiologist at Stanford University, said, “We’re lousy at recognizing when our normal coping mechanisms aren’t working. Our response is usually to do it five times more, instead of thinking, maybe it’s time to try something new.” Prepare an alternative (dare we say better) way for handling your Ex.
6. False Intimacy Can Be Dangerous
While you don’t need to be overly guarded, sometimes part of having clear boundaries is not letting your Ex get too close to you. Yes, that means physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. No, they cannot fix your sprinkler system anymore or tuck you in when you’re sick. It’s over. Too much intimacy with an Ex can be confusing to everyone. It can reignite old feelings that were better left snuffed out. More than anything, it distracts you from giving someone, anyone, a chance.
7. Say Goodbye
Saying goodbye to an Ex might be the most obvious thing yet it’s often the least common thing people do. Don’t walk down memory lane anymore. Don’t revisit old wounds and hurts. Don’t reengage. If this person constantly reactivates bad feelings and brings out your worst self, it’s time to let them go for your sake as well as theirs. Just keep walking forward without looking back.
You deserve a second chance. To truly create an opportunity to meet your new love you need to focus your energy on moving on. The love you’re looking for is ahead of you, not behind you. If you stay focused on the road beyond the windshield you’ll get there much sooner.
To learn more about managing Exes or to deal with any Ex issue ranging from dating to divorce, get all of your questions answered in the new book, in stores September 1, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Ex*.
About the Authors:
Heather Belle, MFC
Heather earned her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt and her graduate degree from Pepperdine University. She has worked with individuals, couples and families, counseling children in the Los Angeles public school system, many from divorced families. She was a board member of The Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House a non-profit that helps children cope with sexual abuse. She has built a career in the entertainment business.
Along with producing an award winning documentary she wrote and created web-based therapeutic programming including an interactive therapeutic CD-Rom for children with diabetes which garnered national acclaim, including a press conference with President Bill Clinton. She is a screenwriter and contributing columnist for eHarmony’s advice site. Heather lives in Los Angeles with her four children
Michelle Fiordaliso, MSW
Michelle is a playwright and psychotherapist. She earned both her undergraduate degree and her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from New York University and has counseled individuals and couples for the past fifteen years. She is currently the clinical director of ShrinkYourself.com and a contributing writer on eHarmony’s advice site.
Michelle is the 2008 recipient of the PEN USA Community Access Scholarship for writing and a 2007 finalist for The Sherwood Award. A regular blogger on sites such as The Huffington Post and The Hot Mom’s Club, she lives in Los Angeles with her son.