Remember when in Legally Blonde, Reese Witherspoon’s character Elle Woods was dumped by her boyfriend and then finds out months later he’s engaged to another woman?
Sure it’s a movie, but it’s a scenario many people can relate to at some point in their lives – and one many don’t know how to react to.
“I think it depends on where people are in the grieving process,” Nicole McCance, relationship expert, says. “If you were the one that was broken hearted, it’s very normal to feel sad and hurt and feel like it’s a blow to your self-worth because there might be a part of you that thinks, ‘Why didn’t they choose me? Why wasn’t I good enough?’”
Even if you feel like you have moved on in life either with or without a new partner, there still may be a feeling of competitiveness that you have with your ex – real or imaginary.
“Let’s say our ex didn’t treat you well, it can almost feel like it’s not fair that they found happiness first,” McCance says. “Even if you’ve moved on and are happy, it can still be painful to hear that your ex has moved on, too.”
So how does one get over that emotional hump – how does one cope with the news of their ex getting married to someone else, and is there etiquette to follow?
Before you go making any rash decisions, McCance says there are seven things you should do and keep in mind when you’re hit with this bit of punch-to-the-gut information.
1. Feel the emotions, process them and then let them go
“All that hurt, disappointment, sadness and anger – it’s important to feel those emotions,” McCance says. “Have a friend come over, talk to them and have a cry. But then try your best to let it go because holding onto it is just painful and if you don’t then you’ll continue to suffer.”
2. Set boundaries with your mutual friends
If you still share friends with your ex, tell them that you do not want to hear any updates on your ex, McCance advises.
“Some of your friends might have good intentions and want to be sharing bad things – like how the wedding was awful and his friends don’t like the new partner – but that’s still going to bring up everything for you,” McCance points out. “Having no information is what you’ll need to move on.”
3. Don’t feel you need to congratulate your ex
“I’ve read online that some people say that if you’re on good terms with your ex that you should congratulate them,” McCance says. “I don’t believe that’s OK. They’re in the past – just let that energy go because he or she may wonder why you’re thinking about them. So just don’t bother connecting again.”
4. Stop the social media stalking
Unfollow your ex on all social media platforms, McCance says.
“You may want to think about unfollowing any mutual friends or family of theirs that you may know,” she says. “If not, it’ll lead you down a rabbit hole.”
Even if you unfollow them, you may still want to check in on them from time to time. Don’t, McCance says. Restrain the temptation and just move on.
“It’s almost like self-punishment,” McCance says. “All that commiserating and ruminating will make you feel awful.”
5. Surround yourself with people who love you and keep busy
“You need that energy from the people around you to be reminded about how great you are,” McCance explains. “You need a confidence boost and those who love you will do that for you.”
And on the day you hear the news, McCance suggests to keep yourself occupied by either taking on a task or project or by getting out of the house.
“Practice self-care that day and distract yourself,” she says. “By self-care I mean treat yourself to a spa day, for example. Do something kind for yourself.”
6. Write down all the reasons why it ended
Sometimes people might start contemplating if they’ve made the right choice and only remember the good times in the relationship, McCance says.
Don’t do that – instead, make a list of all the reasons of why the relationship didn’t work out. It will remind you of why you’re not with that person anymore and that you did make the right decision.
7. No need to mention this to your current partner
“I wouldn’t even bring it up to your current partner,” McCance says. “Because now that energy is in your current relationship so keep the past out of it.”
By bringing up your ex, it may also make your partner feel insecure and they’ll wonder if you’ve really moved on.