Vexed by the ex

Joey Garcia

I’m dating a man I’m falling for and the feeling is mutual. Before me, he was with an acquaintance of mine who talked crap about him privately but acted publicly like he was her man. She knows he’s no longer interested in her, but still posts their old dating photos on Instagram. I can block her but that doesn’t stop her posts. Should I confront her in person, or direct message her telling her to quit?

Some grown people—like your man—arrive in a relationship with their history still in play. Your job is to ignore it. It’s much easier for you to control yourself than to change the behavior of a man’s ex-girlfriend. She’s obviously feeling hurt and instead of working to heal, she’s trying to make trouble for you. Don’t fall for her attempts to lure you into ugly behavior. Rise above the bait. Yes, it’s completely annoying that her posts perpetuate a long-dead relationship with your man. Yes, she’s competitive. So why not let her fail at recruiting you into drama? Post current photos of you with your man or live your life offline. If she amps up the nostalgia, your man should be the one to ask her to quit, not you. And, if you have to ask him more than once to handle his business with her, he’s not worth your heart. A man who cares for you will confront his ex by phone or text to request that she stop behaving online as if they are together. A man who is unwilling to make that request is keeping his options open. Don’t try to change his mind. Don’t try to prove you’re the better choice. Just pick yourself up and move on.

I’m a gay man whose long-term relationship ended last year. We were registered domestic partners but he wouldn’t marry. He said marriage was too heteronormative. Well, guess who got engaged? I am hurt, angry, confused and depressed. What should I say when people ask if I know my ex—the anti-marriage man—is getting married?

You don’t have to answer, sweetie. It’s not your job to sate their curiosity. It’s also acceptable to smile, nod and maintain eye contact. The person inquiring will probably fill the space with chatter. You can nod along or politely excuse yourself. You can also take a deep breath, say, “Yes, isn’t it lovely?” and change the subject. If the other person persists in digging for dirt, say: “That sounds like a question you should ask (your ex’s name here).” In other words, take the burden of conversation off your shoulders. Let the gossip happen without your participation. Take sweet care of yourself.

One last thing, trust that your ex-partner was not the man you are meant to spend your life with. But he is the man who reminded you that people change when they’re ready, not when we want them to change. Don’t take it personally. You are a fabulous human being who is loved, loveable, and needed on this planet—just like the rest of us. So grieve and release your suffering. Shake off the past. Open your heart again. Be prepared for the love coming your way. No, I’m not reading your future when I tell you that love will arrive in your life. I’m simply reminding you of reality. Love is always showing its sweet face, if we have the eyes to see it.

Meditation of the week
“Whether it be a matter of personal relations within a marriage or political initiatives within a peace process, there’s no surefire do-it-yourself kit,” says poet Seamus Heaney. Do you really think you can do it alone?

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