Feb 17, 2013

[Technicolor Musings] Ex-Relations Etiquette

When you break-up with a boyfriend, partner or whatever, the question always remains as how you should deal with your "ex" in the future. Can you still be friends? Should you treat them as lower lifeforms beneath worms and vermin?

Answers vary from case to case and as with most things in life, there are no absolutes. If you try to treat all your ex-boyfriends int the same manner, then you're probably not going to mature much as an individual. That's still your option of course - sadly, maturity has never been a major requirement in life

But this is my take on this aspect of relationships - one that we're all bound to face at least once in our lives. Nothing is ever truly perfect and thus relationships need a lot of work. But at the same time if things don't work out, you need to be somewhat prepared for how to handle things or at least have an idea of what to do next.

So here's my take on how to deal with your ex-boyfriends after the fact. Think of his as some very broad guidelines and opinions on the matter - take it as you will.

When It's Over... - The first thing that one needs to consider is the why and how of the break-up itself. Did you part ways amicably after coming to a mutual agreement that things just working out? Was your last discussion as a couple a violent discussion with objects flying and doors slamming? Naturally if the break-up was bad in itself or the relationship died because of severe issues like abuse (both physical and emotional) or actual theft of funds and the like, then it's not at all expected that you should deal with the guy all too much. But sooner or later, you are bound to encounter him, I expect.

After a Bad Break-Up - It is best to make at least one effort to recover property, return keys and things of that nature, then just cut ties. Personal possessions that he does not want to return to you are technically being held hostage in exchange for your time and attention. Move on with your life and just make one demand. If he fails to deliver on that, then start deleting him from the appropriate address books and social media accounts. Out of sight, out of mind.

The Chance Encounter - Regardless of the nature of your break-up, you will bump into your ex-boyfriend sooner or later. You probably met because you walk in similar circles and thus the chances of meeting again are higher. And gay Manila is a really small place, so there's no getting away from one another. When this does happen, don't run away from the guy or avoid him like the plague - that's not only rude, it also gives him a degree of control and power over you. Instead be civil at all times. If it was a bad break-up, then you can give the silent celebrity wave (hand raised in air without moving) and an accompanying smile is optional. If it was a decent or amicable break-up, then verbalize the hello when you're close enough or even give him a brief hug (or in our case a beso) then maintain the appropriate distance that you would with other friends or public acquaintances. It's far too easy to become overly familiar with the person because old habits die hard.

The Years-to-Months Principle - There are some that suggest that to get over your last relationship, it will take you at least 1 month for every year that you two were together. During that period, it may be for the best that you don't initiate contact with the guy as much as possible, regardless if you broke-up amicably or violently. The two of you need to re-learn how to be just friends or acquaintances, whatever the case may be. If you rush into contact too soon, old habits will come to the surface and you will either be overly intimate or overly violent as past trauma rears its ugly head.

Becoming Friends Again? - The chances of becoming friends with your ex after you two completely cool-off vary based on a number of factors. Beyond whether or not the break-up in itself was violent or on friendly terms, there is also the question of personal belongings having been returned, whether or not past debts have been paid and if apologies were made for past grievances and transgressions. And of course there's the wild card factor of how exactly your ex has been dealing with you in person during the chance encounters after the break-up. There is no absolute rule for this area, but if anything try to weigh all those factors in together to determine whether or not becoming friends again (1) is something that you actually want and (2) is truly worth the stress that you know you're going to get into by dealing with him again. The likelihood of increasing stress is determined by the same factors that we listed in this paragraph.

The General Rule - The two of you were in a relationship and you cannot just ignore that. Being together meant that at one point in time you both stated that you love one another beyond belief. It means that you've shared intimate secrets with one another. It means that you have seen each other naked, both physically and emotionally. You can't just turn your back on that -so at the very least don't be a dick and try to be civil. You're both adults and these are more than fair expectations.

And that's all I have to say on the matter. To-date I can firmly say that at least I'm on pretty good terms with  first ex-boyfriend, I concede that I happily got back together with my second ex-boyfriend and my third (and hopefully final) ex-boyfriend continues to act like a dick whenever I'm around. It's tiring, to say the least, but I know there's not much to be done about it. The way he's acting now just reinforces some of the many reasons that we eventually broke up.

Thus we move on.

Note: Club images were taken at O Bar Ortigas. I added them just to add a little flavor to this blog post.


  1. Musta na ba kayo nina Tobie at Poi? Nahilo na ako sa relationships n'yo eh. I lost track :(

  2. Err, we broke up last July pa. Then Tobie and I eventually got back together in November.

  3. Ah okay. What happened to Poi? I guess 3 is a crowd? :(

  4. Breakups are never easy! I say leave it be and hope for the best.

  5. True on both counts. If only things were simpler, but meh life. =P