The experience of looking over your shoulder after a breakup worried that your ex will sneak up behind you is way too familiar for most of us. TV dramas explore the repercussions of angry women out to seek revenge. Films, documentaries, and news programs give numerous exhibit A’s to any number of people dealing with a vindictive ex. I’ve been that ex – not the kind who successfully destroyed a man’s life but the kind who was so angry and hurt that she considered doing so. So here are 4 tips to not get drawn into her drama.
Dealing with a vindictive ex is not easy.
Anyone who’s been on internet dating sites knows there could easily be repercussions for a breakup. Many times a month, I work with men who worry about the ramifications of breaking up with a woman who just isn’t right. And many women fear equally, the thought of running into a man they’ve spurned. I am not of the mind that we shouldn’t be concerned. I know from first-hand experience that men and women alike can feel the effects of a breakup deeply. And as a result, the anger and primitive drive for survival can become unleashed. But there are ways to not get drawn into her drama.
Make a clean and respectful breakup.
I wish I had a time machine to redo the breakup stories shared with me. Too often men and women behave so badly during breakups that regrets, embarrassment, and stupidity raise their ugly heads. Way too often, someone cheats to implode a relationship. Usually awful things are said when commitments are broken and disparaging, embarrassing behavior occurs. It can be excruciating and infuriating to experience the cruelty so many people engage in to end a relationship. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Write one for the history books.
Chances are you will not have a vindictive ex to deal with if you handle your breakup well. There will be no drama to get drawn into if you break up with kindness and courtesy. If you state your thoughts and opinions kindly or carefully, you will lessen the opportunity for this ex to chase you down a dark alley. When you handle your breakups like a mature person (ahem… if you’re having sex, there’s an element of maturity present) you don’t come off as an easy target to take revenge upon.
You guys have it tough.
We women rage fast and hard. The fury of women has been known by men for centuries so I often wonder why guys set themselves up for it. This is where being kind and merciful with your breaking up comes into play. But what happens when you take all the necessary steps and carefully end a relationship that wasn’t working? What do you do then?
Endings mean not getting drawn into her drama.
I don’t understand all the pushback about blocking someone. What is it about the ability, never mind the opportunity we have, to block someone when a relationship is over? Is it needing a bevy of friendships or a chance to remain in communication so you seem as if you’re a good person? Is it because you don’t want to act like a dick? I’m fairly black and white when it comes to breaking up. Unless you’re parents of kids together, there’s very little to justify staying in touch with an ex.
You’re not being a good guy when you hypothetically (and actually) let her reach out to you during one of her drinking spells. You are not expected to receive angry or mean texts just because you broke up with someone you don’t want to be with. And you don’t have to account for why you chose to do so a week or a month down the road. She is responsible for her emotional well-being, not you. Saying that she’s also not there to make you feel better about yourself.
When you end a relationship, man up and end it.
I dated this guy once who would take me to a club he used to go to with his other girlfriend. One particular evening we were there when all of a sudden he froze up, wouldn’t dance, and couldn’t wait to leave. It was strange and I couldn’t figure out what was going on until months later when I found out she was sitting at a table nearby. Rookie move.
Choose where you entertain a new date carefully. I would no more socialize with a new partner in the same restaurants I did with my ex than climb back into bed with him. Carefully creating boundaries is important especially if the woman you broke up with is passionate, angry or hurt. In other words, the kind of woman who once turned you on…
If you live in a small town and there are only one or two places to go, then you’d better get really good at dating women who live out of town or learn how to break up like a gentleman. We women talk. When you separate your life into geographic lines of defense, it may seem overly dramatic but having two women go at it in front of you isn’t the stuff of reality TV shows either.
What creates the kind of situation where you’re dealing with a vindictive ex?
Instead of simply ending the monogamous relationship one man had with me, he instead chose to cheat on me. And lie about it. It’s been said, “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” In other words, watch out if you choose to cheat.
I can still taste the anger of that particular breakup. He was the guy who cheated on me over and over again. The man who lied to my face and used me to get through his divorce. The man-boy who felt entitled to have me in his life. When it ended, I was shaken to my core. Instead of enacting all the revenge I felt, I declared no man or woman needed to act that way and no woman or man I knew should ever have to experience such rage.
You do not need to create a vindictive ex.
You need to show up and speak up. You need to respect yourself and the women you choose to share your body with. You owe it to your future relationships to create safe separations so that you’re not at the receiving end of angry women who aren’t able of behaving when they’re around you. And these women include your ex-wives as well as your daughters.
Did I want to literally kill this man? Absolutely. However, I walked away. Got myself competent support. I figured out why I chose men who cheated on me. Those who weren’t emotionally available for committed relationships. I healed. Then I committed to coaching others going through this experience. Betrayal hurts.
Both men and women come to me with this pain to heal.
It doesn’t matter what age we are when we engage or want to engage in sexual relationships with others, we bond. We make an emotional and physical impression on one another and we owe it to ourselves to do so wisely. Too many people end up wasting time and money dating the wrong person and misread what’s really going on. You know who you are and intuitively, you also know something’s got to give.
You have the ability to choose safe women or men to love and have sex with. There’s a responsibility to be with people who are mature enough to do the hard stuff with you. Select wisely. Put your emotional and physical safety first. You do not ever need to deal with a vindictive ex when you take responsibilities for your actions and choices. After all, having sex with someone is a mature act, a loving act, an act of physical and emotional safety, not the stuff of children.