Why You Shouldn't Beat Yourself Up When You Slip Up With An Ex

by Alexia LaFata

So, you just had sex with your ex.

Or you texted him. Or you did something else that lead into a spiral of vulnerability, and sadness, and anger and resenting yourself, and now you're convinced your world is ending, and you're the biggest f*ck up on earth, and nobody else would be so stupid to do something like this except you, and you're so dumb, and irresponsible and weak, and why, why, why.

I know you can't even catch your breath because of how much you hate yourself right now. I know you can't believe you stooped that low and did something that will set you back dozens of bottles of alcohol and hundreds of hours of deep, tearful conversations with your friends.

You've come so far. You've talked it out so f*cking much. And now you just ruined everything.

But, listen. Stop that. Stop with that talk. We've all been here. We've all gotten drunk on loneliness or temptation (or just literally booze) and done something that we regret with someone who wronged us.

And guess what? We've all survived. I promise. I have been there, and everyone you know has probably been there, and now you have been there. We've all gotten through it, and so will you.

This the first thing you need to remind yourself: You're NOT the only person who has ever done this.

When we're feeling down or empty, it's natural for us as human beings to do things that make us feel good, even if those things might be destructive and bad for us.

Some of us stuff our faces with bags of Cheetos. Some of us drink and do weird drugs. Some of us hook up with our exes. This is just life.

Your ex is an addiction that you're currently trying to overcome, and a relapse is part of the recovery period for overcoming any addiction.

But this particular addiction is different from something like drugs and alcohol because it can tempt you in ways that other addictions can't.

Drugs can't text you late at night or accidentally brush their arm against you. Alcohol doesn't know that secret spot on your neck that makes you tingle or your favorite way to spend a rainy day.

The mere knowledge that your ex still exists on the same planet as you and shares those same memories of making each other feel loved, and safe and important can be enough to make you relapse.

Your ex is familiar. Familiarity makes us feel better. Don't feel bad about acknowledging that.

Your relapse can actually be a good thing. Sometimes you need to revisit a situation with your ex to be reminded of why it won't work.

When there's been a lot of space between you and your ex, it's easy to glorify him in your head and only remember the good things.

But after a day passes, after you allow yourself to get away from what happened, you can think back to the situation and analyze how you really felt about it: Was he honestly as great as you thought he was, as you've been imagining him to be? Or have your emotions been clouding your vision?

Once you're no longer distracted by his presence, you can pick apart what happened and remember that, wait, yeah, he totally did insult your family and belittle your career againin that casually cruel way that makes it seem like he doesn't mean it, but he really does.

Sometimes the dynamic between two people will always be the same no matter how much time goes by or how much things seem "different."

It just might take a relapse, of placing yourself in and then removing yourself from that charged atmosphere between you and your ex to realize that. So take this as a learning experience.

Or maybe this relapse didn't make you realize how sh*tty he is. Maybe it made you realize you're still in love with him.

If that's the case, you have to remember how you feel: sad and broken and angry at yourself, angry that this happened, angry that you can't just take it all back.

It's important that you really remember how you feel right now because it'll stop you from ever doing this again.

I know you think you're powerless to your love for your ex, but you are not at the mercy of this mistake. He has NO power over you. The only power he has over you is the power you let him have.

You have the power. You choose what happens next. You can choose not to let the overflow of emotions that might come from this set you back.

You can choose to interpret this as nothing more than just a tiny lapse in judgment and to not text him or contact him in any way.

Never lose sight of how much control you have, even -- and especially -- when it feels like you have absolutely f*cking none.

This won't be easy. Prying yourself out of the tight mental grip of someone who was once your number one confidant, best friend and lover is really goddamn hard the first time, and having to do it a second time feels even worse. You'll feel like you're breaking up with him all over again.

But this doesn't have to be the moment that veers you off the path to full recovery and sends you down the rabbit hole of talking to him and desperately pining for his attention again.

Yes, you made a mistake, but you can cut the ties to prevent any further mistakes. I promise.

If you do this, if you really commit to cutting those ties, you'll never have to go through this spiral of self-hatred ever again, and you can continue moving the f*ck on.