Past Relationship Rules

Posted on February 22, 2011


It’s amazing how something as simple as a relationship between a boy and a girl could get so complicated. But for that relationship to retain its complication when the relationship has ended? Please step into the “even more complex” circle and join hands.

I was listening to the radio this week, and there was a survey that said that an over 50 percentile of people who are in married relationships think about something more than often. That something was an ex. Yes, so if you’re married, there’s a good chance your special somebody has or maybe even is thinking about a past ex. Or maybe you are.

So there’s a lot of thinking going on. And not only for married folks, but for the rest of us who are single or in committed relationships.

Two questions:

First, why do we do this? Why do we constantly think about past relationships when they’re in the past– a.k.a. DONE ?

Here’s my compiled list of answers (feel free to add!):

  • Bored with our current relationship status (single or relationship).
  • Curiosity.
  • Care for the other person.
  • Hope for some kind of revenge for him/her.
  • Prone to habit.
  • Not really over them.
  • Still have feelings for them.

Second, what are you supposed to do when you run into them? Or are put in a situation where you have to make contact or communicate with them?

What I want to know is what the rules are. I’ve seen this done multiple ways. I’ve watched friends break up from a 3+ year relationship and act as if nothing happened between them. Some people would call that true maturity. I’ve seen other friends break up and not even come as close as to making eye contact, much less communication, for months. Is that immature? And is there a better way to handle it to make it less painful for both parties?

What about broken friendships? Do they fall into this topic? Between same sexes and opposite sexes?

I ask these questions for multiple reasons. Lately, there’s been a lot of talk of Facebook. OK, maybe the past 5 years fits into that time period. But 5 years ago, would you have cared if someone removed you from their Facebook friends? Ten years ago, would you have cared if someone blocked you from their Facebook profile? It’s an interesting question when you think of how much technology–and the social network, Facebook–has evolved and grown in popularity over the past decade. More meaning is attached to relationships that are established online.

Within the past year, two people I would regard as somewhat significant in my life (more then than now) have purposefully removed me from Facebook for various reasons. I purposefully removed one individual for personal reasons, myself. And I also removed about 25 people that I was trying to figure out why I considered them “friends” in the first place when I barely knew them, much less their last names. All that to say–are there rules we need to regard on Facebook when it comes to past relationships? Are we really hurting/helping our relationships when we add/remove/block certain significant people in our lives?

I suppose I and the above 50 percentile should focus more on present and future relationships rather than on past ones. But we should also consider etiquette and rules for our past ones. After all, we devote time to thinking about these people. We might as well know how to communicate and act when we do come in contact, online or in person. How do you want your past relationships to think about you?