It always comes up casually. “I kinda started dating this girl and [insert benign statement or story].” The rest of the conversation is usually pretty awkward, and it ends with me feeling lonely, unsure of myself and just bad.
What’s the best thing to do when you find out that your ex, somebody you might still have an inkling of a feeling for, is dating somebody new?
Option A) Be super happy for them because they are awesome and deserve somebody else to be awesome with.
Option B) Be sad and decide that there is no more hope for you.
Option C) Feel conflicted because you like this person and want them to be happy, but also feel a bit sad because it feels like things are officially over between the two of you.
I want to be Option A. I want to so bad. And let me tell you where I started – Option B. I actually cried because somebody I dated a little less than two years ago is dating somebody new. I’ve dated since him. And yet, the mention of him dating somebody new led me down an awful rabbit hole of self-doubt and self-pity.
The truth is that I’ve had a hard time being happy for people without using them as a yardstick to measure myself. And I also have a tendency to put the cart before the horse. Most relationships do not lead to marriage and lifetimes of happiness, first of all. Second of all, his exclusion from the dating pool has exactly no effect on my ability to find happiness.
Is it okay to be sad when somebody you thought you were in love dates somebody new? Sure, especially if there are some residual feelings left over. It’s only natural, no matter how long ago that was. What I’m learning — and what I hope other people take away from this — is that you need to balance those emotions.
Feelings and emotions exist on several spectrums. You can be happy and sad at the same time. Ever heard of something that is bittersweet? You can be angry, excited and sad at once. In fact, the combinations of emotions are limitless.
Ultimately, your feelings are yours. Own them, no matter what they are, but also know that you can shape the way you think about things. You can see this new person’s entrance into your life as a terrible thing that is going to leave you sad or angry, or you can reminisce and feel okay with moving forward and finding your own bit of happiness. It’s a journey, but I think you can get there. I’m working on it.
In the meantime, there’s always a glass of wine and Taylor Swift.
Photo via Stokpic