Are You Ready to Let Go?
Christina from San Francisco, California asks:
Why do some men appear to take pleasure in flaunting a new girlfriend around where they know the former girlfriend will be, when they are the ones who ended the relationship? It’s hurtful enough being “dumped” without having to endure the gloating, too.
Greetings, Christina. You ask a good question, but to be fair, I don’t think the issue is one that favors one gender over the other. I can’t tell you the number of women I’ve read for who are reveling in spanking new relationships, and just can’t wait to hear what the ex is going to think when he finds out there’s a new guy on the scene… Or better yet, what he’ll do when he sees her climbing all over somebody else at their kid’s graduation party. Human beings are a malicious lot, and revenge is a custom savagely treasured by our kind. As always, it goes to the ever-present question of value and where it’s placed. People hate to think that they’re no longer valued by someone, even if that someone holds no value for them at all. It makes them feel worthless. On the other hand, if an ex sees you with a new flame and is obviously eaten up with jealousy, well, then, that must mean they still value you; the level of that value being roughly equivalent to the level of obvious (or rumored) jealousy. At least, that’s the theory.
In fact, there could be a lot of reasons for the behavior you describe, and most of them aren’t any more pleasant to consider. To deal with your case in particular, I have a feeling your view of the situation may be more than a bit skewed by your experiences with this man and others. You nurture a bitterness that clouds your perceptions of what’s really going on. While your ex does indeed take some delight in your discomfort, it’s no more than the delight you would feel if you were the one with the new love toy and he turned into a green-eyed monster.
The thing I want you to see is the ego game going on here… the sickness and confusion that pervades your entire relationship experience and philosophy. The raw emotions, the pride, all the fear and insecurity are threads in a vicious tapestry. You met this man and formed a pair bond with him for a season… But as that season waned you refused to let go. For our forbearers, pair bonding was a useful tool in the desperate bid for survival under harsh conditions where struggle and death were constant companions. It really had very little to do with sexual preferences and pleasures. The destitute hunter-gatherer cultures that gave birth to pair bonding did so out of the simple need to have two caregivers if there was to be any hope of keeping their progeny alive in the vulnerable early stages. In places where wealth and luxury prevailed, things were very different. My point is, you and your ex went beyond the cycle for pair bonding that is germane to our current evolutionary placement without having anything between you to build on but your waning mating energy. And like most folks, instead of recognizing this for the simple fact it was and making a reasonable decision to part, you let things slide into an ego game of power, control and who-has-what-over-whom. This isn’t a criticism, it happens to everyone on some level. But, you need to let it go. Your ex isn’t the villain you like to imagine. It just makes him feel good to see you still care so much. He has a pretty new girlfriend and the old one is just eating her heart out over it. Hell, that must mean he’s the cat’s meow. Your reaction lets him assume he could call you up some night if he wanted to and wrangle himself an invitation to your place. And you know what? He probably could. You care too much about this stuff. Practice caring a whole lot less.
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