Instead of demonizing your ex-partner, view them as your ultimate teacher. Perfectly equipped to hand-deliver the most necessary life lessons.
By Shannon Lagasse
You break up with a guy, and suddenly everyone you know is talking about how he’s the biggest douche on the planet. And you’re there stuck alternating between thinking, “Why did I get with him anyway?” to, “Why in the hell didn’t anyone tell me he was an asshole?!”
Here’s the deal: Your former partner is not an asshole. Breakups do not magically make someone an asshole. You changing the way you think about them does.
Leading up to the breakup you probably noticed little flaws, little chinks in their armor, and wrote them off. You were willing to put up with certain things, but maybe it got to a point where you weren’t willing to accept them anymore.
That’s cool. ANNDDD… he’s still not a douche.
Sure, you might have had a difference in opinions from time to time. He might have even done some douchey things. But then again, I’m willing to bet that may have too! Would you want all his friends saying, “What a fucking bitch,” just because the two of you broke up? Probably not.
Oh, the Golden Rule, how you suck sometimes. Like a double-edged sword waiting to bite us in the ass for our hypocrisy.
When we leave things, jobs, people, relationships, cities we tend to demonize them. We make them bad so that there’s a cleaner break. After all, it’d be difficult to leave someone you still love, right? We start to say, “He’s an asshole” or, “They never showed up on time and kept forgetting I’m allergic to nuts.” It’d be difficult to leave a city you could never imagine leaving. So we make it bad to make leaving easier. “It always smelled, the smog was terrible, and the people are stuck up.”
But what would happen if instead of making everything and everyone bad or wrong, we just accepted and embraced the pain of leaving something we love?
There’s this warped concept that by loving someone you can never leave them because that would mean that you didn’t really love them. But sometimes that’s the most loving thing you can do. If someone you love is throwing their life away and taking it out on you, it’s not serving either of you to just stay and pretend like it’s all OK. You have to be brave enough for the both of you, and end things.
When I left my long-time partner after a tumultuous, unstable and unhealthy back and forth relationship that lasted four years, it wasn’t easy. I wanted to crawl back to that comfortable, familiar place even when it meant settling for someone I didn’t really want to be with for life.
I wanted to hate him, to call him an asshole, to talk about all the bad things that had happened during our relationship, as if to justify why I left. Because leaving was the hardest thing I had to do. Leaving was harder than putting up with the berating, the mood swings and the temper tantrums. But as easy as it would be to fall into that place of demonizing him, making HIM the person who was bad and wrong and the reason the relationship ended, I knew it wasn’t right.
I knew he loved me in his own way, as best he could. He did try to make changes so we could be more compatible. He did fix dinner for me, take me out places and brought me flowers that one time. I don’t want to forget those things in favor of focusing on the negative stuff; because it wasn’t all bad.
I’m willing to bet your relationship wasn’t all bad either. And as long as you continue to judge and blame the other person, you’re not owning up to your part in the relationship. You’re not seeing or learning the lesson that partnership laid out for you. Maybe it was about your self-worth, or perhaps the dismal standards you accept from others, or even the ways in which you still have yet to fully love and accept yourself.
Your partner, whom may or may not be an asshole, was a teacher for you. Instead of hating him (or her) for that, ask what might be possible for you if you accepted everything they brought to the table instead of just focusing on the not-so-fun stuff?