When a relationship ends, it’s easy to put the blame on the other person. “He didn’t give me enough attention.” “She nagged too much.” “Their lifestyle isn’t compatible with mine.” etc. It’s slightly childish, yes, but it feels great to have some drinks with friends and re-hash all your ex’s shortcomings.
In fact, this behaviour is more or less EXPECTED. We don’t assume that someone going through such a painful process is going to be diplomatic, kind, or understanding. We assume that they will WANT to air their dirty laundry and ridicule their former partner for all his/her flaws, real or imagined.
Now, I recently split with my partner of three years. I’m deeply hurt, saddened, and, yes, a little angry, even though I was the one to break it off. However, I’ve decided to take a new approach.
I refuse to bad-mouth him.
I will not espouse his negative characteristics. I will not mock him. I will not make jests at his expense. I will not flaunt our breakup, nor share gory details, no matter how persuasive the other party may be.
I will take responsibility for my actions over the course of our relationship, and their effects upon said relationship. I will acknowledge that I am saddened by the loss of this partnership, and that, yes, I am grieving. I will offer no explanation other than “it just didn’t work out.”
It has been about a week since the official split, and people’s reactions to my approach are fascinating. Most are skeptical, thinking I’ll slip up at some point. Some are angry, because they have been denied amusement in the form of someone else’s pain. A few refuse to acknowledge it to my face, yet run their mouths behind my back. Very few seem to understand or accept it.
I, however, feel a sense of lightness. Taking the high road means that I will cause my ex no more pain or embarrassment than necessary, and facilitates a potential friendship down the road. Sure, it’s not quite as satisfying as a good old bitch session, but it’s sure a lot easier on the conscience.