With all the engagements and engagement ring close-up photos we saw popping up on Facebook after the winter holidays and during Valentine’s Day, chances are many of you saw the “good news” from an ex on your feed.
Felt a tinge of jealousy, sadness, anger, awkwardness…whatever?
Here’s why and here’s how to handle yourself by Lindsay Kriger of ifonlyiknew.tv!
There is a flickering ember left in nearly every relationship when it’s over. Sometimes this ember is so small, you might not even know it’s there. Unfortunately, all it takes is one tiny ember to start a fire.
A slight breeze—as light as a sneeze—might get that fire going. Or in the case of those dormant relationship embers, that breeze might come in the form of whisperings about your ex planning a wedding (really?). Or, the accidental (yeah, right!) click of your ex’s Facebook page…which announces that their relationship status is now engaged (WTF?).
Even though the break-up might have happened two, five or 127 years ago, you feel as if you’re experiencing that let-down all over again. Suddenly you have this urge to kick your ex in the shins (again).
So let’s analyze this a bit.
I suppose this happens because the human tendency is to value something or someone you cannot have. Plus, there’s the spotty workmanship of a human’s memory retrieval system—which can often wind up presenting you with a list of all the good memories experienced with a person, even though you’ve urgently requested a data collection of all the bad memories.
But mostly, I believe this heavy feeling in the heart occurs because hearing your ex is engaged is the absolute finality of a break-up. It makes it crystal clear that you and your ex will never, ever, ever get back together. Even if you knew this on a conscious level, hearing about your ex’s engagement might be the first newsflash to your subconscious that the relationship is completely, totally done for. You will not be having a Hollywood movie ending—like in The Notebook—where the couple ultimately reconnects.
Recently, a few of my friends found out that their exes had gotten engaged.
“Harold’s getting married,” said Charlotte, “and I haven’t had a serious boyfriend since we broke up. How do you go from wanting to spend the rest of your life with me to wanting to spend an eternity with someone else? I just don’t get it!”
“My ex Sheryl’s engaged,” said Steve. ”I’m trying to find out who this guy is—what he does for a living, how tall he is, if he works out, if he’s funnier than I am—so I can understand why him and not me.”
“My ex high school boyfriend and first love became engaged this past summer,” said Amanda.“When I saw the photo of him with his fiancee, I felt a pit in my stomach. I’m not sure why. I didn’t ever expect us to end up together, but there was always a flirtation still there.”
All of these different reactions share something in common. They reveal a sense of lingering hope.
Now normally hope is a good thing—a very good thing! But sometimes hope can get us into trouble. I know—how can there be “bad hope”? But there is. That tiny ember left glowing within every supposedly burnt-out relationship is an ember of bad hope. Meaning? If you’re really (really!) (really!!!!!!!!!!) over an ex, there should be absolutely no lingering embers of hope.
Also meaning? It was a fortuitous thing when my friends recently found out their exes got engaged. It created the ultimate closure. It closed the door shut, leaving them on the other side of the closed door to start looking around on this side of the terrain for a new and better partner. I believe that on some level these friends of mine might not have been fully ready to move forward into their next relationship if there were still some unfinished embers left in their last relationship.
For me, there are some past relationships that still have stubborn embers smoldering—but there are some that are completely ember-free. For example, my ember-less relationship with David, my first high school boyfriend. Recently my mom texted me that David was engaged. I texted her back, “I could care less”…and I actually meant every one of those 17 characters.
So what do you do if you find out your ex is engaged and need a little extra help snuffing out those embers?
1. Make a list of why this person is not right for you.
2. Ask your friends why they didn’t like this person for you. And whenever possible, try to laugh a lot with your friends about how wrong your ex was for you.
3. Remind yourself if your ex can get married, so can you. Allow their engagement to represent the possibility of the good kind of hope—the hope that you too might soon find your happily-ever-after partner.
-Lindsay Kriger of ifonlyiknew.tv
Lindsay Kriger is a New York University grad with a B.A. in Psychology and the founder of IfonlyIknew.tv—the go-to relationship resource for young women. She has trained with the PAX Mastership and Leadership Program, taught by internationally recognized Relationship Expert Alison Armstrong, and at 23 is the program’s youngest trainee to date. Lindsay has attended numerous seminars on male-female relationships and partnership-building, establishing herself as a relationshipologist and dating guru for young women. She lives in New York City with her dog, Harvey.
GIRL TALK TIME: What do you think? How did you feel when any of your exes got engaged? What do you think of this advice?