Have any of you seen the music video for Heart Shaped Glasses by Marilyn Manson? For those of you who don’t keep up with Mazza’s antics and I don’t blame you), his ex wife, the gorgeous Dita Von Teese, left him on account of his “lifestyle” and the fact that he was tooling around with a 19 year old girl. Manson is 38, so that’s a pretty significant age difference.
This is the video — and it’s definitely not work-safe. If you don’t want to watch it, let me describe it for you. The first couple of minutes feature Manson and his girlfriend, Evan Rachel Wood, having sex. Hey, I didn’t say it was classy. The thing is that it’s not even artistic, it is completely gratuitous, and it couldn’t be more obvious that he is just trying to upset his ex wife, in a very cruel manner.
Which brings me to my next point. Relationships are the accumulation of mutual respect, the sharing of secrets and experiences. By contrast, break-ups are painful and ugly, especially if you’re the one who has been dumped. But where do we draw the line? What is acceptable break-up behaviour, and what kind of thing cements your place as an inhuman monster? What are the break-up rules?
Here are my ideas, but I’d love to hear yours as well.
Never try to be friends — at least, not fresh from the break-up.
Trust me, it is a recipe for disaster, and usually founded on personal agendas and ego. What do you gain from remaining close buddies with your ex-boyfriend? Well, it gives you a level of control, and since he probably still trusts your opinion, it means you have the power to veto any girl he might become interested in. You can retain the comfort of his support without allowing either of you time to grieve the relationship or find yourself. If you’re the one who broke up with him, you’re giving him false hope that maybe, if he’s good enough to you, you’ll get back together again. Having one another to lean on may seem like an appealing option, but you’re also faced with the temptation to sleep together or get back together again. It’s a very dangerous situation. Just cut the rope — you can do it the long, slow way, or the quick, fast way. I encourage going for the latter. Please, give it at least a few months before attempting some version of “friendship”.
Never badmouth your ex-lover.
It is one thing to discuss your relationship with your best friend and comb over the wreckage together. It is quite another to tell everyone in your and their) social circle about your ex-girlfriend’s bad hygiene, sexual hang-ups or lack of personality. You may think it makes your ex look bad, but actually, it makes YOU look bad. It makes you look bitter and cruel, ad really, that is the least attractive thing of all. (It also guarantees that no one who knows is going to want to get involved with you.) It also demonstrates your complete lack of integrity or respect for another person’s privacy.
Get rid of all their stuff.
Either give it to them or put it in a drawer somewhere. Obsessing over photographs, mementos and shirts which smell like their perfume is only going to impede your progress.
While finding someone new to rebound with may seem like a pleasant distraction, it is never going to make your situation any better. Your new lover (read: victim) is in an awful position, where they probably think you actually like them for who they are, when actually you just want someone to toy with. I know that sounds bad, but it’s true. When you break up with somebody, it leaves a void. A new person is not going to fill that for you — you need to learn how to make YOURSELF happy, before you’re ready to get into a relationship with a new person. You will constantly compare them to your ex, and all you’re going to end up with is a transference of emotion which is only going to make you feel worse in the long-run.
Don’t try and seek revenge.
You may feel like your ex-lover has irrevocably hurt you. It is not your job to “get them back” for that. Leave it up to karma, the universe, God or fate. This is not your job. Trying to extract revenge isn’t going to make you feel any better. Remember, all the energy you invest in them is time you could be spending making yourself happy. Do that instead.
Along with the temptation to start sleeping with someone else, you may also feel the need to get really drunk or high, shoplift, self-mutilate, starve yourself or something else to distract yourself from the pain. This might seem to work in the interim, but really, it isn’t doing you any favours, and the rest of your life is going to suffer because of it. You will certainly need ways to occupy yourself, and therein lies the distinction. Do things which are productive and useful. Write, paint, sing, go dancing, bake cupcakes, start exercising, read a book a night.
Learn to love yourself.
It’s true that you cannot be in a healthy relationship until you love yourself. There are a few reasons for this. One is that if you don’t really love and appreciate yourself, you’re not going to attract the sort of person who will properly respect you ad treat you well. (They will see that you don’t look after yourself and feel that they can do the same thing.) Another is that your lack of love for yourself will mean you rely on other people’s approval, and cling desperately to your lover because of insecurity. Sometimes it can be hard to know where the relationship ends and you begin. If you feel like your personality has disappeared, or you no longer remember what you are interested in, take the time to work this stuff out. You will be a better person for it.
Allow yourself to feel the emotions.
Feeling angry, hurt, lonely or desperate is natural. Don’t try to deny or suppress these feelings, just let yourself feel them. Of course, there comes a point where this becomes unbearable, and most people like to self-medicate here by drinking and the like. This doesn’t help, it just delays the process. Above all, remember that you are the creator of your own fabulous life. You could dye your hair purple, start ballet lessons or go backpacking across Romania — it is entirely up to you. Seize the freedom and make the most of every second!
(All images sources available by clicking on the picture themselves)