An Ex Is An Ex Is An Ex

Batten down the hatches, folks, because my fuse is lit and crackling like a giant sparkler. After an exchange with a relationship expert who feels much the same way, I am compelled to speak out about the slavery many people live in because of improper boundaries with their exes. Let’s dive right in.

You and your boyfriend broke up. You’ve been through a divorce. You dumped the two-faced sociopath who was having unprotected sex with at least three different men yet kept up appearances by acting monogamous with you.

In all of these cases, the other person is now your EX. This means that the relationship with that person has ENDED. This means they have no right to be in your house, in your life, or using your money or possessions—and legally, they might never have had that right in the first place. There are exceptions, such as having children in common, that mean having contact with that person sometimes. But you can choose to handle those exceptions on a strictly business basis and in a neutral location. If they violate your conditions, provide legal consequences.

All too often I hear a “but” from men and women who are entangled with their exes. But she is the kids’ mother. But he still has my TV. But she still has feelings for me. But I can’t be so cruel as to cut him off completely. But they will do this ___ (fill in the blank). These “buts” are excuses. They are escape routes from having to mature into a person who can say “no!” So even though the relationship was supposed to end and allow the involved parties to move on with their lives, it takes a new form that consumes the time and emotions of the person who wanted to move on.

Why does this happen? Many of us were not taught boundaries in childhood. We didn’t know it was okay to tell someone to stop hurting us or to leave. So we might have grown up to be people without proper boundaries, people who can’t say no, or back off, or express what we do and don’t actually like. We might be too “nice,” which can be another way of saying we haven’t developed the backbone to properly defend ourselves. We might be emotionally unstable and have an unhealthy need for drama and conflict. No matter how this inability to set and maintain boundaries developed, unbalanced people can and will sense and exploit this weakness.

When you refuse to treat an ex like an ex, which usually means cutting them out of your life as much as possible, you are allowing them to have CONTROL over you that they should not have. You are also allowing them to TAKE time, energy, emotion, finances, and any number of other things that belong to your new partner or the future partner you’re actually supposed to be with.

To reiterate these points, you are allowing yourself to be MANIPULATED and your current or future partner to be ROBBED. Notice how I used the word allowed? Don’t expect them to back off on their own; you need to back them off. You need to take control and decide that you’re truly done. Staying bonded to your ex means that your life revolves largely around the past and around something that didn’t work instead of focusing on what God wants to do in your life now.

This is happening all around me. It breaks my heart that so many people live in bondage to their exes and end up damaging new relationships that could be good for them because they’re still so entangled in the old ones. I want to tell these people, “just say no! No buts, just no!” Change the locks. Get a court order. Make a safety plan. Open a new bank account. Draw up a visitation schedule. Don’t allow them at your residence. If you truly want to move on with your life, put your foot down, do what you need to do, and CUT YOUR EX OFF.

It seems that many people are okay with living in the grey area of ex entanglement because it gives them something to complain about, it’s a source of entertainment, or it’s easier than standing up to them. It might also seem simpler than moving on, which carries the risk of failing again. But this is such a sad and empty place to live. It reminds me of when Teddy Roosevelt said, “For better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Nowadays multitudes seem content to live in that grey twilight when it comes to relationships. Facebook allows men to keep tabs on the exes they now consider “friends” and go to for emotional support when their wife disapproves of their selfish behavior. Women can flirt “harmlessly” with exes through social media and lunch dates, sometimes ignoring the fact that seeking approval or intimacy elsewhere is sucking the life out of their primary relationship. Rather than make the effort to improve their supposedly committed relationship or find a better one, some people find it easier to stay locked into their ex’s drama and dysfunction.

Yes, it takes time to get over a relationship gone bad. You might have actually loved the person who was so detrimental and have to allow yourself to process the loss. I ask, however, how you expect to get over that person when you’ve never actually ended it? If you’re allowing them to violate your boundaries and keep taking things from you that clearly do not belong to them, you’re still willingly baring your neck for the vampire.

Stop being a blood donor. Move on. To allow them to keep feeding will only make you both sicker. One day you’ll wake up and have no more blood left to give. If your ex was serious about your relationship, they would have already started making needed changes rather than trying to guilt you, control you, or promise things will get better after the fact. They would be acting out of love rather than practicing expectation and entitlement. They would be working hard to maintain peace instead of trying to take advantage of you and causing more conflict.

If you’re with someone else or your ex is a pathological personality, you need to consider, no matter how uncomfortable this sounds, that you are being stalked, abused, and/or harassed. You might need to get the authorities involved and you should be documenting the behavior. Instead of continuing to enable the behavior by allowing them to step on you, you should be providing consequences for it within the confines of the law.

Please see this blog’s sidebar for links like Document the Abuse that can help you protect yourself and your family. I’d also invite you to look at the gender-inclusive Power and Control Wheel to see what looks familiar:

From a spiritual perspective, I strongly believe that Satan desires to keep us chained to the dead bodies we drag around rather than break free and find a healthy relationship. He likes darkness, uncertainty, instability, chaos, fear, and keeping us pinned down in one place, hardly able to breathe. He exults when we feel trapped and condemned, unable to move forward into the peace, joy, love, and hope God’s promised the people who trust Him.

If you have ended a relationship but feel like you’re spinning your wheels, draw on the unlimited strength that your Father has, lean on your supportive friends, and get yourself into the light. Don’t lurk in the shadows where your ex can play games with your heart and mind, get away from them. If you allow another human being this kind of power over you, you may never develop into the man or woman your Creator intended you to be. You might live your whole life as a weak, subservient pushover instead of as a warrior.

Do you really want to look back on your life and realize how many years you spent pouring gasoline into a tank with a hole in it? Or would you rather have spent that time developing an ever-expanding love and passion with someone who appreciates your efforts, respects you, and wants to be naked with you on every level of their being? You choose. You can stay nailed to the wall and tossed around by the fury of an ex entanglement or you can stand up for yourself, sever those ties, and move forward. But you can’t choose both and succeed.

If you choose to stay in conflict with an ex, don’t expect to have enough energy to give to your current or future partner. In a sense you’re nurturing an addiction that will drain you, just like drugs or alcohol. Also, don’t expect your current or future partner to tolerate the unnecessary drama you’re involved in. You’re giving a part of yourself to someone who shouldn’t have it rather than the person who should. It’s a recipe for failure on all fronts. You can’t win.

Too many people are walking the fence, trying to placate the old and live the new. No one is meant to do that. A divided house can’t stand. A divided heart can’t fully give to anyone. The best advice I can give after witnessing these entanglements over and over again is to sever all possible ties with your EX and walk away. Find someone who wants to be a travel partner on the road of life rather than someone who just wants to wrestle in the same old mud bog and never let you out. Misery loves company.

Stop robbing yourself of true love. Stop robbing the person you’re meant to be with by giving parts of yourself to someone else. Know who you are in Him and, chin up, eyes straight ahead, walk forward into the grand adventure of life a free person. Only a free man or woman, unencumbered by the virulent vestiges of relationships past, can fully experience the mystery and magic of the kind of love that Love Himself designed.


Love me without fear
Trust me without questioning
Need me without demanding
Want me without restrictions
Accept me without change
Desire me without inhibitions
For a love so free…
Will never fly away.
-Dick Sutphen


©2012 H. Hiatt/ All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/

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