Face the facts: some 50% or more of all romantic relationships are gonna come to an end. Breakups are hard enough when we’re the one doing the initiating. But being dumped can cause some of us to absolutely lose it.
Pop culture is littered with people who have a less than optimal response to being kicked to the curb. I mean, who can forget Lisa Nowak, the infamous former NASA astronaut who drove 900 miles in an adult diaper while on her way to kidnap her former lover’s new girlfriend just so she wouldn’t have to stop to use a restroom? Or YaVaughnie Wilkins, a sister who had an eight-year affair with Charles Phillips, the married former co-President of Oracle Corporation? When Phillips decided to reconcile with his long-suffering wife, YaVaughnie responded by posting billboards outing their relationship in three different cities. Phillips lost his job over the scandal and Ms. Wilkins is now the poster child of spurned mistresses.
A relationship ending on terms other than your own is going to be extra painful. But being dumped is not a justifiable reason to go crazy. It’s never easy to lose someone you love, but putting up a website dedicated to the character flaws of your ex is not going to get you the resolution you’re looking for.
Over the years I’ve seen how two otherwise decent people end up putting each other through the emotional equivalent of World War III because one or both can’t or won’t move on. I’ve seen too many folks lose all sense of decency when a relationship ends, which has led me to create the following 10 Commandments of Breaking Up in response:
- Thou Shalt Not Retaliate: Anger is a natural response when a relationship doesn’t work out the way we’d like. Acting out in retaliatory ways (eg. Outing your closeted ex to their co-workers) is just plain evil.
- Thou Shalt Not Be a Victim: Even if they did you wrong, you are bigger than what happened. Remember, whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.
- Thou Shalt Not Stalk: No, it is not appropriate to drive by to see if anyone else is at their home. It is not okay to send twenty text messages a day just so you can get your feelings out. Excessive calling, texting, drive bys, etc are not only unhealthy for you and scary for your ex, they can be illegal.
- Thou Shalt Not Slander: As tempting as it may be to throw your ex under the bus, avoid telling anyone who’ll listen about how horribly they did you wrong. Keep that between you and your closest, most trusted friends.
- Thou Shalt Not Use the Children as Weapons: Under no circumstances should your children be used as a way to even the score with your ex. Your children’s emotional health should always come before your need to feel vindicated or in control. Nuff’ said.
- Thou Shalt Not Stay Friends: Trying to maintain a friendship with your ex can be a way of clinging to what doesn’t exist. Unless your relationship began as a friendship first, it may be better to let go for a while and let some time pass before resuming your friendship.
- Thou Shalt Not Rebound: The quickest way to get over your ex may be to get with someone else, but rebound relationships simply delay the inevitability of you having to deal with your feelings. The best thing to do is to spare yourself & your potential rebounder from confusion and work through it on your own.
- Thou Shalt Not Follow: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and like have added a whole new level of complications to relating. It’s hard to move one when you’re following your ex’s every move online. Unfriend and unfollow.
- Thou Shalt Not Contact Your Ex’s Friends & Family: They are your ex’s people, not yours. Don’t add drama to the situation by trying to maintain ties with his or her people. Move on.
- Thou Shalt Not Give Up Hope: It didn’t work out, but this doesn’t mean you should give up hope of finding love again. Use your breakup as a learning experience that will help you get what you really need in your next relationship. (There will be a next one, trust.)
It isn’t always easy to take the high road when a relationship comes to an end, but leaving with dignity is really the only way to go. Aside from the real legal and moral implications that arise if we decide to behave badly (yes, we always choose our responses), there is nothing worse than having regret over ones actions. If you think you’ve been unfairly dumped by all means mourn your loss. Scream. Wail. Cry. And when you’re done, pick up the pieces of your broken heart and trust that things will get better with time.
Sil Lai Abrams is EBONY.com’s Relationship Expert and the author of No More Drama: 9 Simple Steps to Transforming a Breakdown into a Breakthrough and a board member of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Follow her on Twitter: @sil_lai and connect with her on Facebook. Want Sil Lai’s advice? Email [email protected] to have your love questions answered in a future column!