Don’t Ever Give Up (Except On Your Ex)

Don’t Ever Give Up (Except On Your Ex)

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We’re getting ready for Valentine’s Day, that season when love is in the air and it seems like everybody is with someone… except you.

So let’s talk about temptation. Let’s talk about exes – and the allure they always have. Even after they have torn your heart out, gleefully ripped it to ribbons, and then stomped all over it for good measure while you watched, horrified and heartbroken.

Okay – that’s a bit of an exaggeration. You got me. The thing is, that’s exactly how it can feel. You see, falling in love is a tricky thing – there’s another person, yes, but you never view them exactly as such: very often, especially when we are young, we fall in love half with the person and half with the idea. Sometimes mostly with the idea.

We all do it, especially in the beginning. Those first few honeymoon months are some of the most amazing months any couple can ever have. But in a strange way, they are also the most superficial: you don’t really know the person you’re with, and so you just kind of fill in the blanks, so to speak, with what you want to be true.

Only, often it’s not true. You see, we normally learn pretty quickly whether we’re in love with a person or with an idea. The problem is that we are in love with a whole host of ideas, including the ideas we have about relationships. We grew up on movies and TV that sell us on the romance of being in relationships – or maybe we’re just enamored with the idea of being in one, and we don’t want to be single again.

That was true for me. I also wanted to save him. You know, that Florence Nightingale syndrome that all us girls seem to have.

Ideas are powerful things. In my case, they kept me with a man who I loved for almost 2 years before he ended it all in a shocking, almost commendably brazen act of flagrant infidelity. The hurt he caused is still with me now, almost a year onward. I sure hope that thing they say about time healing is true…

When it happens, it feels like your world gets taken away from you. And it kind of did – when you invest in someone so fully like that, when you give yourselves over to them so quickly like that, they sort of become your world – and your world, in all its cruelty, goes ahead and sleeps with someone else.

It shatters you, it breaks you into a million little pieces (no pun intended). And who is the person you want to comfort you in your time of need, to hold you while you cry and tell you everything will be alright?

Oh. That’s right. That same pesky ex.

That’s what you call inconvenient.

But the heart wants what the heart wants, and it wants that movie ideal of that ex who realized their terrible mistake and came rushing back to the door, their love stronger than ever, and helping you through the problems they themselves caused.

But they can’t, and they won’t, no matter how hard your heart wants that to be true. Because that’s the idea, and you’re still in love with the idea even when the reality is long gone.

But then how do you get rid of that heartbreak? How do you get rid of that pain that thumps in your chest, the one that makes you not want to get up in the morning?

I don’t have a good answer to that. I’m still working with it myself. But I do know that it can’t be someone else, and it especially can’t be the one who caused the hurt – it has to be you. You have to be the one to bring yourself up and out of the depression they caused. Because in the end, you’re the one that has to heal and become stronger.

So even if it hurts, even when it feels like the only thing you want to do is run back into the arms of the person that hurt you, don’t do it. Trust yourself, trust in your strength to heal, and don’t give up – well, except on the one that hurt you.

Instead, come up with a new idea: after all, the movies are filled with self-reliant, strong young lovers who get over the heartbreak.

Now that’s an idea I can fall in love with.