The Ex-It Strategy

This is a guest post written by Sara Sharnoff.  Sara is currently finishing her Masters Degree in Family Therapy at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  After years of feeling let down because her life did not resemble a John Hughes movie, Sara decided to devote her time to studying couples and intimate relationships.  During her free time she loves to drink copious amounts of coffee, cheer on the Boston Celtics, and explore the gorgeous sights in New England.  She's here to share her perspective on relationships.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and it often serves as a time for people to evaluate their current romantic relationship.  Couples spend hours choosing the perfect romantic restaurant, selecting a beautifully crafted card, and ensuring that their partner feels loved and adored.  Surely they don’t have time to think about anything, or anyone, else. Right? Right?

The answers may surprise you.  According to a survey conducted by, 71 percent of people in relationships stated that they think about their ex too much, and 48 percent of those polled said they look at their ex’s Facebook profiles more often than they should. If you fall into one of these categories, it may be time to participate in the first annual “Break Up With Your Ex Day" on February 13th.  While you may have broken up with your ex years ago, many people are still checking on their former loves through Twitter, Facebook, or even by text or email. This pledge requests that you permanently end tweeting, texting, or poking your exes.  It is also suggested that you erase your former partner’s photos off of your computer and toss out boxes of old love letters. Who knows, it may be the most rewarding spring cleaning that you ever do!

Some people find it very difficult to end communication with past loves. Fantasizing about an ex is like going back to summer camp ten years later; the nostalgic memories may pull at your heartstrings, but then the magic fades, reality sets in, and you realize it is just a musty old cabin with pesky mosquitoes. Stop idealizing your past loves by remembering the person’s less than stellar qualities-the way she criticized your extensive video game collection, or the way he always complained when your mother visited.  Remind yourself that the relationship ended for a reason (usually multiple reasons) and you should take the lessons that you learned and refocus your energy on what you do have- a new relationship that needs your attention in order to grow and thrive.

The most important thing to remember is to concentrate on your personal relationship goals.  Do you want to get married or have a family? Would you like someone who loves and supports you through the ups and downs of life?  Regardless of what you envision for your romantic future, you are not going to get it from a past flame. By paying attention to what you have now, you can begin to redirect your thoughts and take steps in the right direction.

While some people don’t think twice about their exes, others can seriously jeopardize their current romantic status by planting jealousy and doubt in their current partners.  Only you can decide the appropriate boundaries for your exes, but just remember- if you cross the line with your ex and lose your sweetie, you will be stalking yet another failed relationship on Facebook- alone.