Let’s play the blame game,
I love you, more
Let’s play the blame game
Let’s call out names,
I hate you, more
Let’s call out names,
names, for sure
— Kanye West
Unless you’ve been trapped under something—or someone—heavy this past week, you’ve likely been well briefed on the Kayne/Wiz/Amber melee that erupted on Twitter, to both the delight and dismay of millions of onlookers. Yikes.
Dozens of think pieces have already been penned about the exchange, the hashtag that broke the Internet, and the intersection of celebrity, masculinity and misogyny. Salient points have been made about all of the above, so, I won’t explore those already exhausted topics.
However, I had my own takeaway from this unfortunate episode, no doubt fueled by my own recent spate of encounters with exes (thanks, Retrograde). After all, what was this mess but an expired love triangle that should’ve long since been abandoned?
When it comes to breakups, can’t we do better?
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a brief playlist of sorts. Consider it a guide to “Ex Etiquette,” if you will. Hopefully, it’ll come in handy the next time those “Twitter Fingers” get itchy…
1. “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” – Michael McDonald
We all want to consider ourselves mature, evolved adults in control of our emotions. But when parting ways, chances are one partner is in more pain than the other. If that’s the case, trying to instantly downshift into friendship is tantamount to torture, especially if you weren’t friends beforehand.
Where there’s been love and mutual respect, friendship is an ideal end to an unsuccessful romance, but it usually takes time and space to heal from whatever broke you up in the first place.
Bottom line: If you’re destined to be friends, you don’t have to force it.
2. “Don’t Speak” – No Doubt
Despite our best intentions, all (or even most) relationships don’t end amicably. Sometimes, the bitterness far outweighs any benefit of maintaining contact. In those instances, it’s best to remember Mom’s advice: “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”
Anyone who’s ever used composure to gain the upper hand in an argument knows that silence can speak volumes. As tempting as it may be to keep re-hashing the past, it’s a pointless—and petty—exercise. If you can’t speak with (or about) your ex without getting emotional, no contact is generally the move. When in doubt, stop talking.
3. “Obsessed” – Mariah Carey
Social media is an incredible tool for connecting with people and keeping up with current events. But after a split, social media should be used with caution, to say the least. Because if you’re watching someone, chances are they’re watching you do it.
I know. You want to appear the bigger person, entirely unfazed that the former object of your affection is moving on. But acknowledging their every move with “likes” doesn’t make you look victorious; it makes you look like a voyeur…and a glutton for punishment.
Ask yourself: What do I hope to gain from this? Attention? Do I hope to inspire regret?
I hate to break it to you, but you’re likely having the opposite effect. Cut it out.
4. “Ex-Girl to the Next Girl” – Gangstarr
Should you be lucky enough to move on quickly, it’s likely also best to do so quietly. Feel like you’ve upgraded? Good for you. Revel in that. Roll around in it. But slinging mud at your ex in the process? Now you’re just…a pig.
When you’re newly smitten, the last thing you’re focused on is “the one that got away.” You’re too busy spending every available moment with the next best—or in this case, better—thing. Otherwise, it’s worth asking: Are you really smitten? Or are you just saving face?
5. “When U Were Mine” – Prince
She was dope, wasn’t she? Admittedly, you miss the envy you inspired being with him. You never considered him/her a “trophy” exactly, but now that it’s over, it does feel like you’ve taken an L…
You know what? That’s life. And one of the facts of life is that you don’t get to trot out your exes like credentials on a resume. Insisting that every mutual acquaintance know that you were once involved—even years after the fact—only begs the question: Were they your greatest accomplishment? Think about it.
6. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” – Marvin Gaye
Any long-term relationship generally results in mutual friends. After the love is gone, it’s both unfair and unreasonable to try to divvy them up like your collection of vinyl.
If you’re lucky enough to retain the respect of your shared crew, asking them to choose sides is disrespectful as hell. But what’s even more disrespectful? Using them to keep tabs on your ex. It’s an awful position to put your so-called friends in, and ultimately, they’ll resent your manipulation. You’re not slick; you’re sad.
(On that note: it should go without saying, but try not to choose your next boo from within the crew. You already know why—and if you’re on the rebound, it probably won’t be worth it, anyway. Tread carefully.)
7. “Best You Ever Had” – John Legend
Last but not least: if we’ve learned nothing else from this latest round of “Twitter-gate,” it’s that kids should be off-limits.
I’d argue that sex should be, too.
Intimacy is one of the best parts of a healthy relationship. How intimacy is expressed is unique to each relationship, but is almost always based on trust.
If and when the relationship ends, violating that trust is not only hurtful; it’s hypocritical. Between loving and consenting adults, the most natural thing in the world is to want to please your partner. If you’ve agreed to it, it’s not fair to use it as ammunition later. And yes, this applies to both sexual preferences and sexual history. Neither is fair game.
Remember: sex is not a weapon. To use it as such is a cheap shot.
They say when you know better, you do better. Here’s to being better at saying goodbye.
Did I miss anything? What would you add to the “Ex Etiquette” playlist, and why?