Creating Boundaries—Why Your Ex Should Remain Your Ex
Assuming you just had a break up and your soul feels like a raw gaping wound, it can be remarkably easy to reach for the nearest fix that you know of to heal your broken heart…your ex!
So familiar, so warm, so comforting and probably just as willing and in withdrawal and denial as you are.
But then at times, the opposite is true, sometimes it isn’t as painful and filled with nuances of soap opera drama as you might expect. Maybe you just got up one day and decided that the person that your once heart burned feverishly for was now nothing more than a weak candle flame flickering in the breeze. You part ways and decide very sensibly and logically to be ‘friends’. Sagely, the two of you meet for ‘friendly’ drinks, ‘friendly’ lunches and before you know it the lines between ‘friends’ and ‘friends with benefits’ become blurred and its downhill on the slippery slope to ‘are we dating again?'
However unique your situation might be, that first month after you break up with someone and begin redefining your life minus your ‘plus one’, can be a very difficult and challenging phase. No matter how picture perfect you may have imagined things to be, making the change over in psychology from couple to single can be daunting. But create boundaries; you must, if you are to thrive as a rational human being.
Here are a few solid tips on how to survive the break up, create boundaries with your ex and surge forward to live your best life.
1. Navigating the first post break up meeting...
Let’s face it that first meeting post break up can be at best, mildly awkward, at worst extremely painful.
Instead of diving for the bushes, using separate exits or pretending to be so studiously busy in the depths of your phone or studying your shoes, try being polite.
Remember, short of any form of meltdown, sticking to polite social norms and manners is probably the best that you can do given the circumstances.
Tough love tip:
Suck it up, be strong and go out there with your head held high. Don’t feel small or inferior, watch your body language and the way in which you come across, don’t make apologies for being alive, being out there and socializing. Live your life and be fabulous!
2. Pull the plug
When you guys were in love, everything was no doubt peachy. Rabbits probably sang and danced, you had hearts in your eyes and everything was coming up roses. Now that the relationship guillotine has dropped there really is only one choice if you would like to well and truly move on - pull that plug baby!
You guys following each other on Twitter? It is time to click unfollow.
Sweet, sweet friends on Facebook? It is time to block or unfriend.
Any mutual social media pages that you guys had administered together: it’s time to head for ‘splitsville’.
No matter how painful you think it could be, you need to be as astute as possible and pull up the drawbridge. It is no longer you, me and happy families; you have to face reality that there isn’t a combined identity anymore. Carve out that space in your bid to move on.
Tough love tip:
What you don’t know and can’t see will not hurt you. If you are always looking at your ex’s social media pages, you are continually exposed to his/her life, the associated memories, the hurt and the pain.With the simple process of elimination when you remove the person’s presence from your immediate vicinity, you take back your power by not investing emotion and reaction to them and their lives.
3. No creeping
Yes, yes, we know how difficult it is to get rid of this seething mass of feelings, and how you imagined each other as your first, your last, your everything… but you really aren’t going to make any progress with your own life if you keep driving past his or her street casually waiting for your erstwhile armor to make an appearance. Likewise if you haven’t quite managed to pull the plug on your social media connections (why on earth have you not done so yet?), perhaps it is time that you did.
There is a fine line between acceptably missing someone and becoming their stalker, springing up from behind hedges and just happening to accidentally-on-purpose bump into them at their favorite coffee shop (with your new beau in tow, perhaps?).
Tough love tip:
Simply put…you NEED to get a life. Preferably yours and not your exes. Presumably you are a fabulous person when you are not preoccupied with your ex, filled with your own interests, pursuits and set of values. Keep busy, keep going and most of all keep fabulous! You know you’re worth it!
4. Keep grounded - find your feet
What grounds you? What are the things that give you joy and purpose?
Every tree has its roots that dig deep and offer sustenance, shoots that lap up the water and hydration and branches and leaves that reach out to the skies.
Meditation, prayer, hobbies, pastimes, affirmations and offering up gratitude, these are sure and easy ways for you to feed your soul. When the storms come there is only one way to stay rooted and grounded and that is for you to invest in yourself long before the storm even arrives. Find one that works for you.
Tough love tip:
You alone, need to find the sources that give you strength in your hour of need. Keep questioning yourself as the days go by: Continually interrogate.
- What is it and who is it that drains me?
- Am I feeling okay about this situation?
- What are my red flags and no go zones?
When you ask these types of questions of yourself on an ongoing basis, you are in the best position to ensure that you stay grounded when the tough times hit.
5. Accelerate rather than reverse
Presuming you came to a point where you decided that you wanted to let someone go. Examine why it is that you decided on the break up.
Especially if you were the one that initiated your break up, you need to know that this was most probably a breakthrough in your own understanding about yourself.
For whatever reason, you probably said, hey this is no longer okay, he/she no longer fits my life, and I need to move on.
Understand that some level of temptation and wanting to reach out to your ex is normal, but if you do reach out and go back to your ex, consider that you may be regressing and retarding your own personal growth.
Often breaking up with someone coincides with having just had a greater understanding about yourself and who you are as a person - which means GROWTH! Any move backward, negates that and in fact steps on the toes of your own growth and progress. Take a look at the sun on the horizon, see the bright future ahead of you and just keep on moving, Joe.
Tough love tip:
Bottom line, change IS progress! You alone hold the power to push forward. Have the courage to take steps, kick your life into high gear and put a bit of positive distance between you and your ex. More importantly, you need to understand that a break up offers a crucial period within which to introspect and get to know more about yourself. What is it that you like/dislike, what do you stand for in terms of your beliefs and values and more importantly what is it that you expect and need from a future relationship?
6. Pull yourself towards yourself
Somewhere along the line, when it comes to break ups, there is a sudden moment of understanding. You don’t know when and how it happens but suddenly there is a little bit of daylight that opens up.
Now that you have put a bit of time, perspective and distance between you and your ex you find that moving forward one day at a time is not so difficult after all.
The period following a break up, should be a time filled with introspection and recovery, but most importantly, it should be a time filled with fun, new discovery and understanding more about you.
Let’s face it, while relationships have their joys and benefits, there sometimes isn’t much time left for you to be YOU! Always wanted to take up that Zumba class at the gym but just never found the time? What’s stopping you now? Felt guilty about not making much time for friends and family? Plan those picnics, getaways and road trips. Always wanted to spend the entire afternoon on the porch reading a book with nothing to do and nobody to be accountable to? This IS your golden moment!
Tough love tip:
Your one, true and lasting relationship will always be with YOU! Remember this; carry this one truth with you especially if you feel as if you need to rush back to your ex which, in most circumstances, spells well and true detriment to your own sense of wellbeing.
7. Humor - lighten up a little
Sometimes, all you need is a little light humor in order to get over your ex boyfriend or girlfriend and help you create those ‘keep me safe’ boundaries that prevent you from taking any steps that you might regret.