Breaking up is complicated, and even though a breakup can definitely be for the best, that doesn't always make it easy. It's normal to not want to see your ex very often, or at all, really, after a breakup. But sometimes, when it's impossible to avoid seeing them for whatever reason, that can make relationships even harder to get over. So, how do you cope? And what do you do if your ex isn't exactly pleasant when you have to see them? Seriously, knowing what to do if your ex is mean to you is hard, but one expert explains that it doesn't have to be.
"If you have to see your ex on a regular basis and you find that they are mean to you, then this behavior has to stop, immediately, or you absolutely cannot continue to see them and must find a way to extract yourself from whatever situation is creating a perpetual run-in," Denise Limongello, psychotherapist and relationship expert, tells Elite Daily.
Really, that's the gist of it: Your ex has no right to be mean to you post-breakup, no matter why you have to see each other. And if they are, then it needs to stop.
That's a whole lot easier said than done, as tensions might be high while you're around an ex and confrontation isn't exactly easy. Additionally, it's important to acknowledge that every situation is different. "Some circumstances are challenging and often inevitable, such as a workplace or in the event that you still have entanglements such as shared property or even children together," Limongello explains. But it's still crucial for yourself and anyone else involved to not let your ex be mean to you. So what do you do?
"Schedule a meeting to establish ground rules, or even seek the help of a professional," Limongello advises. It's important to remember that it's completely OK for exes to go to therapy together. "A couple can meet with a couples' counselor, even if broken up, and it can be a great way to negotiate the rules of the split, together. Couples' counseling can help you to navigate your new normal with your ex, if, in fact, that person still needs to be in your life for reasons out of your control."
The best way to handle the situation, Limongello says, is to eliminate your ex from your life, if at all possible. However, if you share children or an office, that might not be feasible, and if counseling is out of the question, then it's time to have a conversation. "If seeing them is inevitable and out of your control, however, then it is essential that you confront this person about his or her attitude toward you," she says. "Studies show that the most common reaction to anxiety or fear is avoidance, when really, the research suggests that the best way to deal with fear is to face it, head on. Confront your ex, immediately, about his or her behavior and your refusal to tolerate it. Suggest that you find a way to treat each other, respectfully. Avoiding this confrontation will only lead to increased anxiety and emotional distress."
You don't have to deal with a mean ex, period. You've already gone through a breakup, you don't need to go through the emotional distress of being spoken down to from the same person on a regular basis. Speak up, organize a meeting, or remove yourself from the situation. In the long run, it will be much better for your wellbeing.