Even if it was a horrible relationship, even if you hated him by the end and you’re quietly relieved he’s gone, even if he used to chew his toenails in front of your parents*, take some time to acknowledge your sadness that it’s all over. There might only be a pea-sized smidge of sadness, but it will be there and it must be acknowledged; you’ll have gone into the relationship with at least some hopes and expectations and it hurts to let go of them.
2) …BUT NOT TOO MUCH
It’s fine to wallow in grief for a while, but never to drown in it. You may have a job that needs your attention. Kids that need feeding. A goldfish that needs whatever goldfish need. Hell, you also need to look after yourself and remember to shower daily. If your grief becomes all-consuming and stops you functioning for an extended period of time, do ask for help (perhaps from friends or a counsellor).
3) APPROPRIATE REVENGE
Take the form of revenge that best suits your situation. I’ve always believed that ‘living well is the best revenge’, so I just get on with forgiving my exes and living a good and happy life. But that’s just me. I’m a tiresomely Pollyannaish hippy. Your situation is different, and your situation may dictate that you fill your cheating-scumbag-ex’s sock drawer with anchovies while he’s on holiday with his new girlfriend. Who am I to judge? (Seriously though, if you’re going to have to continue to see your ex—perhaps you have kids together—I highly recommend taking the moral high ground rather than a tin opener to a can of anchovies.)
4) DON’T FIXATE ON THE MONEY
Many people think they can ‘win’ a break-up by keeping the most money. But the stress of getting there is horrendous, and money isn’t happiness. Try and divide everything up between yourselves; getting a solicitor involved generally means you’ll be splitting the pot with them as well.
5) REMEMBER THAT THEY’RE PROBABLY NOT AN EVIL MONSTER. PROBABLY.
You loved him once. You even loved him enough to kiss his reprehensibly lying mouth. Yes, he may repel you now, but you loved him once. Try and remember there is something good about this person; don’t demonise him. (Especially if you have children together. I cannot stress this enough.)
6) PREPARE FOR A MATE CLEAROUT
Some friends will stick with you. Some friends will ask what they can do, and then never call you again. Some friends won’t ask what they can do, and will simply never phone you again, because they are busy hanging out with your ex and renting caravans together. This is all fine.
7) NO, NO, I’M SERIOUS, YOU HAVE TO LET GO OF YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF OTHER PEOPLE’S BEHAVIOUR
Perhaps you thought your friends would grab their blazing pitchforks and drive the bastard out of town? Instead you’re mildly perturbed to find that one friend has invited him to join their darts league, another friend has formed a covers band with him, and yet another friend has actually gone ahead and married the cheating swine. It hurts, yes, it hurts like salted sunburn, but what your ex does is none of your business, and perhaps these people were never really your friends.
But more than anything else, just because you don’t like your ex, doesn’t mean other people have to hate him too.
8) DO WHATEVER THE HELL YOU WANT
The future is now yours to do whatever you please with. No more compromising for you! Couldn’t get a cat because he was allergic? Get yourself all the cats. Want to eat pork for every meal for three months, because you were sick of keeping kosher? I can heartily recommend this from personal experience. (I only stopped when I realised that I was permanently, unpleasantly, dehydrated.) Go for it, buttercup.
*Yes, I used to date someone who did this, and I’ll post about him another time.