Break ups are tough at the best of times. No matter how maturely you approach them or how amicably you agree to ‘remain friends’ they are fraught with complications.
The largest of these complications being when your ex moves on and finds someone new.
One minute you’re happily munching on a pret sandwich, scrolling through instagram and the next you’re clutching your phone like it is a bomb of bad feelings, your stomach feels like worms and the pret sandwich may as well be cardboard in your mouth as you stare at a picture of some lithe blonde girl with her arms wrapped around your ex’s neck.
Isn’t this the guy who ‘just wasn’t ready for a relationship’ circa three months ago? Isn’t this the guy that cried and said that what you had was really special?! How the fuck has he moved on when you’re still in the ‘occasionally sniffs his t-shirt and tries not to cry’ stage of life?
Whatever the circumstances, here’s your guide to coping when your ex moves on before you do.
Remember: Social media is a big fat hairy liar
Social media has many positives but when you’re going through a breakup those positives are few and far between.
Back in the days before everyone put all but their bowel movements on Instagram, you could have quite a nice time imagining that your ex-boyfriend was sitting in their room weeping whilst cuddling a teddy bear with a photograph of your face sellotaped to it. Or if you’re not quite that psycho (HAHA what?) you could at least keep telling yourself that they are just as miserable as you.
Sadly, the invention of Instagram means that this illusion has been royally shattered because now you know that he is, in fact, not in his room but actually having a pretty jolly afternoon down the pub with the mates you were never that keen on. How do you know? Because you’ve just seen a video of him downing a pint whilst one of the mates in question (invariably named something like ‘Wilko’ or ‘Chuggsy’) bellows and whoops in the background.
What a bunch of legends.
He doesn’t look that sad does he, you think as you stare angrily at your phone. In fact he looks pretty bloody pleased with himself.
What’s important to remember here is that social media is basically a liar: it’s an edited highlight reel of people pretending to have the best time ever whilst secretly wondering when they are allowed to go home. Anyone can smile for a photograph, or chug a beer (he’s clearly drowning his sorrows…maybe…) but it tells you nothing about how their actually feeling.
In practice: Block, delete, step away from the gram
Having said that it is in no way helpful to see this kind of stuff. Take it from someone who poured over her ex’s Instagram like it was the sermon on the mount, it only makes you miserable.
And let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as painful as flicking through their Instagram and seeing a video of them kissing a girl on the tube when just three weeks prior they were telling you how much they loved you. NOTHING.
There’s also nothing dignified about bursting into tears on the train, having to be escorted off by your friend and wailing to her in a voice only the dogs can hear.
Block. Delete. Stay away. No good will come of this.
Remember: you don’t know the whole story
So your ex has posted a photo of a girl, or you’ve heard rumours that they’ve got someone new on the scene.
It’s pretty shit.
But remember you don’t know the whole story – people get things wrong and, as above, social media is a liar.
The last thing you want is to see a picture of some girl on facebook and angrily message your ex calling him a ‘dingbat fucktard’ only to find out it’s his cousin.
HAHAHA which would be really embarrassing and awful HAHAHAHAHAHAH so it’s lucky that’s a hypothetical situation HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAAH (oh my god help)
In practice: keep calm and keep perspective
Take a deep breath and rise above is the kind of advice my mum would give that would lead to me turning into Kevin from Kevin and Perry and shouting ‘YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND’ at her. However it’s the right thing to do here.
Try not to think about it and certainly don’t confront them. However painful this is, what they do is no longer any of your business and calling them out on their behaviour, no matter how insensitive you feel it to be, does not scream ‘you made a mistake’ as much as it screams ‘you’ve had a lucky escape.’
Let me tell you – when my ex caught wind that I had someone new on the scene and sent me a three page text which contained the sentence ‘you pulverised my heart and you don’t give a shit, you’ll never know what a huge mistake you’ve made’ it made me feel all kinds of awful. What it didn’t make me feel is even the vaguest feeling of remorse for dumping him. No one and I MEAN no one has ever read a text like that and thought “do you know what…maybe I AM in love with him still after all”.
As the saying goes – keep calm and carry on.
Remember: it’s not a competition
So your ex has a new girlfriend. Good for him. This in no way means you have to be ready to move on. If you try to force yourself to move on just to break even with your ex you’ll only end up miserable. Also, your ex will either not notice or not care. I’m sorry to break this to you.
In practice: Do not go on a rebound rampage
Take it from someone who hit tinder with a vengeance after her heart was shattered into ten thousand tiny pieces and then had to watch her ex post numerous photos of some blonde girl including videos of them snogging on the tube, it doesn’t end well.
In my case it ended with me getting plastered and posing naked on an exercise ball. For that tale of calamity head here.
Remember: you broke up for a reason
It’s easy to get a case of the rose tinted glasses when your ex moves on. It’s one of those awful, ‘want what you can’t have’ scenarios that we all kind of hope we’ve grown out of but actually haven’t.
Seeing them with someone else whether online or (the very worst) with your own eyes can trick you into thinking you want them back but, rationally, you know that you broke up for a reason.
In practice: have your reality checks ready
There are two parts to putting this into practice.
The first: remember all the reasons why it didn’t work between you two. For example every time I feel even a twinge of nostalgia about my relationship with my ex-boyfriend I remember the way that he used to sneeze with his whole body and then make this really loud, irritating moaning noise afterwards as if he’d been hit by a bus instead of performing a normal bodily function. I also remember how I used to look at him and think ‘if I just killed him, would it be enough of a defence to play the jury a video of him sneezing. Would they understand and let me off with a warning?”
The second, on a rather more positive note, is to think about all the things you DO want in a relationship. It’s all well and good reminding yourself of how gross his feet were but, especially if you are the dumpee, it’s hard to actually see those things as a deal breaker when you are heartbroken.
I find that, when someone has treated you badly in particular, repeating to yourself ‘he cheated on you, he made you feel like a fool’ is not half as effective as “You want to be with someone brave and honest.” People who have hurt you will most often fall short of the values you look for in your person. As such it really is the best kind of reality check.
Remember: you are your own unique person
YOU IS KIND, YOU IS SMART, YOU IS IMPORTANT.
This, incidentally, is the mantra that me and my two best friends that I also had the great fortune to work with used to repeat to each other during the bleakest summer of all of our lives where we were each dumped one after the other in the space of three weeks. Subsequently there was always at least one of us in tears at any one time on our bank of desks whilst our male boss looked on in bemused despair.
Yes your ex may have moved on and it’s tempting to think that the new partner is in some way superior to you, however this isn’t the case. Different? Maybe. Better? Not a chance.
In practice: Don’t stalk the new squeeze
I mean I know this is easier said than done so I won’t dwell on this too long, but sitting in your t-shirt and pants, eating cheese balls and drinking red wine from the bottle whilst you watch your ex boyfriend’s new girlfriends holiday compilation video IS NOT A VALUABLE USE OF YOUR TIME.
It’ll make you feel shit and no one got time for that.
Remember: one day this will be a distant memory
Time heals everything. It’s the most annoying saying every mainly because it’s so true. There’s honestly not a whole hell of a lot you can do to get over the fact that your ex has moved on before you have. The whole thing about love is that while it’s grand and all that, it hurts when it ends.
Just try to remember that one day you will wake up and realise you haven’t thought about them in at least a week and life will sort of mend itself over the gaps that they left that once felt unbridgeable.
In practice: Be kind to yourself in the now
We’d all love to be flippant, chilled beings who forget their ex the minute the relationship ends and sips on martinis in slip dresses saying things like ‘Who him? He’s yesterday’s news” but sadly it isn’t always the way.
If you’re feeling devastated – give yourself a break. It just means you care. And there’s nothing shameful about that.
In the age old advice that’s all over this blog: get up, have a shower and go outside and see people who make you laugh until you nearly wee yourself. And remember that this sadness is temporary and you will be absolutely fine.