After the worst breakup of my life so far, my friends brought me to a bar to wash away my sadness with beer and more beer. In supportive bro fashion, they reminded me how awesome my life would become now that I was single, pointed out eligible ladies with drunkenly colorful adjectives, and generally tried to cheer me up. Out of all the many tactics, two stand out to me now. The first is the hunt for a rebound lay, and the second, which I believe is pretty ubiquitous, hating the ex.
Both tactics are part of a pretty poorly designed breakup regiment. Sniffing out a person to rebound with is, in effect, saying that an entire relationship can be forgotten with one swift, inebriated boink, devaluing the ended relationship in its entirety. Also, not that great a reason to sleep with someone to begin with – there’s so many better reasons, vengeance ain’t one of them.
Hating the ex, according to swinging genius Cooper S. Beckett, is something that’s been programmed into society, and part of how breaking up is seen as failure. After a relationship ends, it’s often the case that the parties supporting their despondent comrades will lift said sadsack from the ashes of a supposed failure, while with the same sweeping motion grind the ex right back into the proverbial dirt.
This breeds the notion that a relationship can only be weighed on its inability to keep going, where probably the best thing that could have happened for everyone involved was a clean finale. Better to let the other person – or people, if we’re talking a more poly arrangement – go peacefully. Wanting to keep a shoddily functioning romance from falling apart may just lead to bitterness and many forms of out-of-relationship measures that aren’t necessarily healthy, especially when secret.
One reason why there’s so much hate and desire to forget is exactly because relationships are held together longer than they should be. A relationship that ends on a sour note will give a cringe-worthy flavor to every memory, changing the perception of the ex to a foe, someone that drove you to such measures. They become someone who came between you and the fabricated goal of relationship success.
This, of course, leads to the often moronic game of who wins the breakup. This particular dichotomy of relationship victor and relationship write-off makes for crippling ego games, and fuels the fantasy of failure even more.
In speaking to Beckett, it’s very clear that there’s value in reconstructing how we view failure in relationships. Just because a relationship is no more – actually, who’s to say that anything ever reaches finality, besides freedom from that ol’ mortal coil of ours? – doesn’t mean that the whole thing is bunk. Most likely, a good deal of positive learning and fun times occurred. A relationship shouldn’t be seen as a failure unless throughout the course of the relationship a lot of time is spent wishing it would end. And even then, there’s always growth, so still not a cause to deem the entire experience worthy of hastily forgetting.
This is not to say that the ex should be everyone’s favorite person. Straight after a break-up, it’s likely wise to establish some spatial and communicative distance, in that the reasons for said rupture contain emotional nuggets associated with pain. Once the dust has settled though, it’s smarter to view the relationship as an experience profitable in now didactic memories. And before the rubble’s been cleared away, make it a point to reminisce on the finer points of the experience, rather than contorting the ex into a fictitious demon, effectively making you some species of saint. I can promise you that fantasy distorts all the feels in the worst ways.
So embrace a flipped definition of relationship finality. You and your ex may end up being friends after all. Or, heaven forbid, back together, because nothing riles up a cabal of bros as much as a relationship sequel.