A common dilemma frequently discussed amongst girlfriends and confidantes concerns contact between significant others and their exes. How much contact is too much contact? Where do you draw the line? How can you trust that it is over between them? What do you do now? Even I have had occasion to consider this issue once upon a time, at which point it became necessary to come up with a definitive solution to prevent the onset of batshit craziness. Since I trust my beloved readers to be satisfied by what satisfies me, I share my solution here.
How much contact is too much contact?
There is no point in even asking yourself or anyone else this question, since if everyone is being completely honest, they all have the same answer, which is “any.” With obvious exceptions. For instance, if your love interest has children with the ex, and your answer is still “any,” I am afraid the batshit crazy has already taken hold, for it is not only necessary but right that there is communication between separated parents. Another example that would make some form of contact necessary are shared assets, but this is typically of a foreseeably limited duration. If you’re asking this question, you already know there is some contact, which is unfortunately more than none, but you’ve yet to embark upon a quest to find a new “One.” Hmmm. So the question you’re really asking is
Where do you draw the line?
The answer to this question is entirely subjective and answerable with another question. What are your boundaries? There is no right or wrong answer here, so long as you understand that boundaries do not exist to define what someone else does, but what you do. Boundaries that promote and protect your integrity are set by you and you alone. Or me. With this post. Which is just as good as you setting them — or better, if the batshit craziness has already crept in.
When you are feeling hurt and/or confused, it is understandable that you would seek solace, guidance, and validation from your friends and loved ones. It is possible, even, that you will receive advice when you do not solicit it, such as when your confidante pronounces the object of your affection to be “shady as shit,” and insists that you “have fun, but don’t fall in love.” Amusing. And actually not bad advice at all, all things considered. Especially when/if one finds oneself entangled with one of those ridiculously handsome, absurdly charming, and unquestionably brilliant bastards who happens to be shady as shit. The point is that although everyone will have an opinion, ultimately it is you who must decide. Explore the depths of your own intuition and govern yourself accordingly. The fact is that whether you love and whom and how much does not require anyone else’s permission. It does not even require reciprocation, for all that it is expected or desired, and rightly so. If you aren’t getting what you need from this thing, why is this still a thing? Do not limit your sharing, however, to confidantes. Particularly since, as they love you, their first instinct is to kick the shit out of anyone who would cause you a moment’s consternation, followed closely by demanding that you get the hell out of there without further ado. Been there, done that — and you know you have, too. Because solving other people’s problems is sooo easy, right? I know! That is what I like about it.
Disclose your boundaries to your love interest and move forward from that point. It is natural to rebel against and/or want to protect yourself from what you think may hurt you. But continuing to react from a place of insecurity will cause you to behave in way that will assure you achieve the opposite of what you desire. Trust yourself first. Say what you need to say. Then trust your partner. Until such time as you have proof that they cannot be trusted. At which time you shall rain hell down upon him and/or move on.
I, for one, insist upon being shocked if ever I am wronged. Obviously, I will recover and get on with the necessary vengeance of living well and trusting in karma. I am a pathological optimist. So can you be. It is what it is, but it will become what you make it.
How can you trust that it’s over between them?
This question is at the heart of the matter, and is born of your own fears. Fear that he/she may still have feelings for his/her ex and/or fear that said ex will somehow (probably using witchery) right the wrongs or somehow persuade your partner to right the wrongs that drove them apart. I get it. But you cannot stop this. Fear that you’re not [good] enough. While I have for damned sure never entertained that last notion, I included it because I am sadly aware that some people suffer from such toxic delusions. And while the first two fears are completely understandable and/or valid, particularly concerning witchery, they are all yours to conquer. What he/she does with his/her ex is not about you. Unresolved issues with exes are theirs to conquer.
I’m going to stop being gender-neutral now because it interrupts my flow. My beloved readers must trust that I write universally-applicable truths.
She is his ex for a reason. (Undoubtedly a myriad of reasons, which he may not mind disclosing, though I suggest you never speak of your former partners, or if you must, only as described here.) And you — well, look at you! You are amazing! What decent human being would ever want to hurt you? I don’t know about you, but I have yet to encounter a single One who could “trade up” after me. Such a thing is outside the realm of what is possible. Even for witchery. And if you don’t think I find that both amusing and comforting, think again. It is a good idea to adopt this mindset at once — even if upon reflection you find it does not apply to you, since there is no time like the present to make it applicable by being the sort of person you want to be — and the sort of person you want to be with.
If he does not show you that he cares for you — and you know goddamned good and well what that means — then why are you with him? It should (but sadly does not) go without saying that if the content of his communication with his ex contains sexual or romantic ideation, denies his current relationship status, or in anyway discredits his previous characterization of his level of involvement with his ex, then you have an entirely different problem that begs a different question, namely,
“Why are you hitting yourself?” Walk away. Because the real issue here is trusting HIM not IT. Yes, it will hurt like hell, but its gonna hurt a whole lot more the longer you tolerate it in the hope that he will come to his senses and stop cultivating her interest versus merely being amicable. You will recognize that shit when you see it. Shade will out. That being said, whereas you are merely speculating about the content of his communications with his ex, know this: It is not necessary to know the content of his communications with his ex to know how good things are between the two of you. If things are good when you are together, you have a good relationship. If it can only be good when you are together if you ignore all of the red flags constantly smacking you upside the head, you don’t have a relationship at all. You have an association. And not a healthy one.
With regard to communication with his ex, it is necessary to distinguish between the feelings you have and the feelings you (project) ascribe to him; between what you fear and what is actually happening. Otherwise, you are “borrowing trouble,” and that way lies madness — a phenomenal waste of precious time and energy that is better spent appreciating/enjoying the moment you’re in — which is all you really have. You must not interpret someone else’s actions (be they his or his ex’s) as a reflection on you. He is going to do what he’s going to do, and no amount of hell-raising or guilt-tripping, or logic and
reason will prevent it. Why would you even want to? Babysitters are for babies. If what is yours can be taken from you, you should not want it — and you sure as hell do not need it. Let it go. While I would not hesitate to battle a witch for what is mine, when/if what is mine is defenseless, my babies are grown-ups now, and there is no world in which I wish to be bound to a defenseless man. That is just — Christ. No.
What do you do now?
We have all heard it said — usually at the worst possible time by someone we want to punch right in the face — that if you love someone you should set them free, and if they return they are yours. Taken in the literal sense, this is complete bullshit. I have already described the circumstances under which you should let “it” go. Literally speaking, if you let It go and It comes back, shoot It. Because It is up to no goddamned good. And you were warned. As ol’ Crandall tried to tell those fools in Pet Sematary, “Sometimes dead is better.” That little maxim, however, takes on a whole new meaning in the figurative context. Setting someone free of your expectations is an entirely desirable and achievable action from which any relationship (I said RELATIONSHIP not ASSOCIATION) will immediately and substantially benefit. Loving someone means loving who they are, as they are — and not burdening them with your expectations to satisfy your ego. Or conquer your fears.
If you cannot love someone as they are, they are not one of your Ones, and you are not one of theirs. Not this time. Don’t let it devastate you.
WITH REGARD TO WHAT YOU SHOULD DO NOW about your love interest’s communication with his ex, once you have put your cards on the table YOU SHOULD DO NOTHING. A word to the wise is said to be sufficient, and if he is not wise — again, what the hell? No. I hope I have taught you better than that. Focusing on the foundation, rather than the future, sets you free to live in the moment and accept any eventuality. Having established your boundaries, defend them. Do not let your heart be broken if things do not work out. It’s not you — it’s the two of you together, or likely just him. Unless, of course, you are an evil witch, in which case, it’s you.