As if the whole breakup or divorce process wasn't painful enough, now you've got to absorb the news that your ex is dating up a storm-or even getting remarried. Whether you love, despise or are just friends with your ex, seeing him or her with someone else hurts, especially if your breakup was fairly recent. But you're strong enough to handle it-here's how:
Let Yourself Vent
Get it all out: the anger, the frustration, and perhaps even some rebel behavior. Give yourself an hour or so a week (but no more-you don't want to wallow) to cry, have evil thoughts about your ex's new mate, or eat way too many nachos. It's gonna feel good!
Lean on Your Support Network
Make sure you call upon your close friends now to stick by your side. Friends with whom you can be irrational, sob or curse up a storm, and simply call to have some fun-well, they are just essential at this time. Don't be shy about letting them know you really need their support.
Focus on What You Can Control
Your ex's new relationships are something you can't control. And as we all know in life, it's useless to obsess about things over which we have no control. You can only control your own relationships, and it's entirely up to you whether you choose to find new ones now or wait. Re-align your focus along these lines.
Limit the News Flashes
Decide whether or not you want mutual friends to report on sightings or news about your ex's dates. If third-party news flashes only upset you, tell everyone that you'd rather not hear it.
Don't Go There
Avoid places you know your ex frequents. Who needs those miserable, awkward moments when you bump into him or her on a date? That visual image of your ex on someone else's arm will only fuel your sorrow or fury, so stay off the beaten path for awhile.
Stick to Your Own Dating Pace
Your ex's reaction to your split was to jump right into someone else's arms, but maybe that's not your style. Everyone has a different way of reacting after a split-and certainly a different timetable for the recovery process. One client of mine hunkered down alone for two years, focusing on her young children and friends, starting therapy, and throwing herself into her work as a writer. Another client started dating right away after his wife left him for another man. Dating quickly made him feel uplifted by having someone in his corner, even if it wasn't the future Mrs. Right, just someone to play with and to kiss. No matter what your ex is up to or what your friends say, don't let yourself be rushed into dating again if you're not ready. Listen to your own instincts and do what feels right to you.
Most importantly, there's one thing you should never forget: It is not a race to move on after a split. Rather, it's a marathon, and even though it's tiring and painful at times, it is also exhilarating. Here, the measure of "who wins" is not who crosses the finish line first, but who sustains long-term happiness. Your ex may have a head start, but you, my friend, will win this marathon-and it's OK if it's not at a record-setting pace.
Rachel Greenwald is the author of the New York Times best-selling book Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School. She is also a dating coach and matchmaker. She is a frequent guest on "The Today Show" and has been featured in dozens of magazines from Oprah to People.
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