SMART GIRLFRIENDS GUIDE™ on How to Deal with Your Ex

By Star Young

Should you take a Tylenol to deal with your ex? Research says you just might. The University of Michigan has found that break-ups activate the same parts of the brain that feel physical pain.  According to the journal Psychological Science, “We have shown for the first time that acetaminophen, an over-the-counter medication commonly used to reduce physical pain, also reduces the pain of social rejection and heartache, at both neural and behavioral levels.”

Montefiore Medical Center in New York cited, "The brain is not wired to differentiate between physical pain and social pain."  As far as your brain is concerned, the emotional pain that you feel is no different from a stab wound.  Studies that explored the emotional-physical pain connection compared MRI results on subjects who touched a hot probe with those who looked at a photo of an ex-partner and mentally relived that particular experience of rejection and heartache.  The results confirmed that social rejection and physical pain are rooted in exactly the same regions of the brain that cause physical responses of hurt.  Research also reflects that the psychic pain that follows a breakup of a relationship also affects physical health, even grieving a relationship increases the risk of heart attacks.

So no matter where you are in your divorce process you make decisions that affect your well-being. Do you want to hold onto a hot probe?  Would you take the knife out of your stomach to stop the pain?  Everyone experiences pain in different ways with different pain thresholds and with stronger and lesser pain.   Below are suggestions to help you move forward, mindful that there are choices of actions that you can make to help you to stop the pain, start to heal, and deal better with your ex.

  1. You can’t control your ex or their actions but you can control your choices and your actions.  Set boundaries, stick to them.  Do not engage in negative warfare, it’s a waste of time and energy.
  2. Time spent on revenge and spite are better spent at the gym, Pure Barre, training for a Muderella or other exercise taking care of your health.  Besides, the best revenge is feeling and looking good.
  3. Don’t put anything in writing that can come back to haunt you.  Keep communication short and civil.    Wait 24 hours before you send anything. 
  4. Misery loves company so don’t let their misery contaminate you.  Take the high road, especially if you have children, but don’t take abuse.
  5. No matter what the circumstances of the divorce, a good therapist is worth your time, your future and getting over your ex.  We often wear our physical wounds openly and take the precautions to keep from infection to heal properly for future activity.  The emotional wounds should be treated with such care as well so you are ready for such future activities. 
  6. Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.  Better to work to forgive and find peace than to be the cliché angry divorcee.  Peace can be better than botox.
  7. Unfriend your ex and his best friends on any social media.  Better for the both of you.
  8. Don’t try to make your ex jealous by letting him know your are dating, especially if you’re still in the midst of your divorce. 
  9. Don’t go to the old haunts, try something new and different.
  10. Shared custody is hard but try to look at the positive -- you get some down time, maybe even a weekend off.
  11. Spend your free time, maybe that weekend, on your inner peace and happiness.  Engage in volunteering or other life enhancing experiences.  You will recharge yourself and feel better doing something positive.
  12. If you have children remember you will deal with your ex for a long time, so work for peace for all whenever possible but keep your boundaries.
  13. You and your ex are your children’s role models.  They can learn by example.  So ask yourself what you are teaching your children by how you treat your ex and how you let your ex treat you. 
  14. Make the bedroom yours, new sheets, new pillows and sleep in the middle of the bed.
  15. Change all your photos, start adding pictures of your new life experiences to make new memories.  Make a dream board or write out your personal goals and put it in a picture frame.  Place the board or frame where you will see it every morning to remind you that what you think, what you say is what you will do to find your #happily 4everafter.

Star Young is an entrepreneur and Fortune 500 award winning executive.  Ms.Young is a certified excellence coach and a trained facilitator of Edward Deming Continuous Improvement.  In addition, she has been a talent for CBS syndicated programming, as well as a co- founder of the Beauty Spot and author of Smart Girlfriends Guide series.