“My ex was the worst….”

"Mississippi Blues" by Mimi Stuart ©

“Mississippi Blues” by Mimi Stuart ©

Talking about your ex in a disparaging way is tedious and draining to others and reflects poorly on you as a person. Nobody will be impressed that your last boyfriend or ex-wife sent abusive emails or stalked you. They will merely wonder whether you are a victim or a bad judge of character.

If asked about your past relationships, rather than starting on a diatribe of complaints, you could simply say, “We went our separate ways,” or “We grew apart.”

Grow up, don’t put down

Better yet, find a way to view your difficult relationships of the past with perspective and find a silver lining. After all, you were together for a reason and probably got something out of the relationship.

It is often through the very gridlock and troubles in a relationship that we learn who we are and what our boundaries are.

We all live and learn from experience, especially from painful episodes that cause us to grow.

There may be times when you do want to talk about a painful relationship with a close friend in order to gain insight about yourself or the relationship or to share what you have learned. Yet self-reflective conversations are very different from complaining about and belittling others. Remember to stick to the former, where your intent is to understand, grow, gain peace, and become more whole.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen
Twitter: @alisonpoulsen

Read “My ex was a psycho!”

Read “My negative emotions bring me down. I tend to dwell on feeling hurt or angry.”

Watch “Why do people gossip, and when is it malicious?”

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2 thoughts on ““My ex was the worst….”

  1. KA

    But isn’t the silver lining nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig? In my own ex, who I was with 7 yrs, and by all accounts from others looking in the best man for her there is no silver lining to losing the person you should be with. Nor to the pain not having the person in your life. I’ve always felt that thinking that way is people rationlizing away pain, or problems, or what happened. Am I wrong?

    1. Alison Post author

      Silver Lining

      Your point is well-taken. I am not saying that you should erase your sense of pain and loss with Pollyanna cheerfulness. In fact, it’s hard to grow by simply denying or covering up the ugliness of pain and loss by, as you called it, putting lipstick on a pig.

      I am saying that tedious complaining and one-sided blaming the other person will make your life and the lives of people around you worse, not better.

      I do think it’s good to remember the good parts of the relationship, and also to figure out where it went wrong and to learn from that.

      I don’t mean to suggest that you become happy because of the potential growth arising out of a painful loss. I am suggesting that in order to make your life the best it can be, you can look for some peace through understanding and growth through pain. That’s better than simply putting the blame on the other person.

      May I ask you why your relationship ended? If you are the best man for your ex, what happened? Is there anything that has changed in you as a result of the relationship?

      All the best,

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