How Can I Stop Hating My Ex?

Divorce Sense

Divorce_HateIt can be so exhausting hating your ex!

Your anger flares into rage; resentment keeps you awake at night dreaming of payback. How can you let go of the pain and resentment associated with the end of your relationship? How do you accept the loss of a relationship that was supposed to be for life?

A better question might be ‘Why Stop Hating your Ex’?  In other words, what’s in it for you – to either keep the fire raging or to move on?  There’s got to be a mighty good reason to change before most of us are willing to put in the effort. Stopping hating your ex has to be about you feeling better.  You’re not likely to shift for just for the sake of your children or out of political correctness or spiritual zeal.  Do it for you, and for your children.

Advantages of hating your Ex

Ok, so there are probably advantages to hating the ex, as well as advantages to giving it up as a lost cause.

(1)   One advantage of hate that’s been identified is that anger is more comfortable than depression, bringing with it energy to do something rather than the lethargy of depression and rumination.

(2)    Another advantage of hate:- the good old revenge fantasy is a cheap and easy way of feeling better and more powerful, able to inflict terrible imaginery pain if you want to.  Revenge fantasies bring short term relief from feelings of distress but they don’t change much on a day to day basis.

What’s wrong with anger?

If you feel powerless, the mind finds ways to help you cope, but you won’t want to live there for very long.  Compassion for yourself at finding yourself in that pit-stop is the best view to take of it, while making plans for a longer term solution.

To address the question ‘Why Stop Hating your Ex’, take stock of the costs of hating.  These might include the impacts on your children; those little sponges who KNOW and feel the angry vibe between you and your ex, even if you are super careful only to vent outside of their range of hearing.

Take stock of your hate.  Does hate raise your anxiety level beyond reasonable; keep you awake at night; take up most of your creative thinking capacity;make you a boring conversationalist so that the only people who can tolerate you for long are other haters?

If you answer ‘yes’ to some or all of these points then you are the one paying a terrible price for your hate.  Most often the ex isn’t paying much of a price.  Maybe he or she is uncomfortable for short periods, like when dropping the children off, but mostly he or she is unaffected by the Death Stare and the Dire Vibe (though children are likely to be stabbed through by it).

What’s wrong with revenge fantasies?

Ever kept yourself warm by imagining being able to hire a ‘hit man’ who would knock on their door and blow your ex away, maybe along with the new girlfriend/boyfriend?  That’s a good example of imagery you can conjure up without leaving your bedroom, without paying anyone a cent and without being arrested. However, it may be expensive in another way – in keeping you stuck and at arm’s length from new possibilities for yourself.

A common version of a Revenge Fantasy is to ruin your ex’s reputation by telling family and friends the dirt on him or her; to make your family and mutual friends YOUR allies who disapprove of him or her.  You fantasise that they will even take action to help you take vengeance by:

  • reasoning with your ex;
  • applying a guilt trip or penalties for bad behaviour;
  • telling your ex what they think of him or her; or
  • cutting them off completely.

Unlike the ‘hit man’ variety of fantasy, this kind is more likely to be put into action but it takes a lot of work on the part of an aggrieved person to organise an effective vengeance campaign.  And you run the risk of drawing some criticism yourself, even losing allies.

Revenge fantasies are a part of the separation process for the partner who has become ‘The Dumped One’: the one who didn’t get to choose.  At a time when you feel perhaps robbed, demeaned, or embarrassed, a revenge fantasy can provide short term relief and a focus for action.

How do you give it up and move on?

Reading about separation and divorce experiences of others can help.  If you are more of a talker, there are groups in most towns and cities that you can join when you are determined to stop suffering.  These activities will help you lesson the extreme focus you are currently placing on your ex.  This can be done in very simple and subtle ways – did you notice that most references to your partner in this article are spelt ‘ex’ and not ‘Ex’?  In other words, start to lessen the importance you place on this person in your life.

Psychologists and counsellors can also help by offering expert support to boost you through.  Why muddle on if you can find the door to relief more quickly and return yourself to your healthy life path?

Your children especially will thank you.  Parental disputing is the most disruptive cause of children’s difficulties, potentially leading to developmental delays, educational and social difficulties, increased risks of ill health and long term ailments that can follow them into adulthood.

But most of all you will thank yourself for honouring yourself enough to break the dangerous thoughts of anger and revenge which are the debilitating bedfellows of hating your ex.

It makes very good sense to stop hating your ex.

About The Author

Rosalin Primrose is a registered psychologist with 20 years’ experience in the area of individual counselling and dispute resolution.

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