Exes Anonymous: a 12-step program for dealing with breakups

Since a breakup inspired my first travel memoir, I figured that could be a good place to begin the blog. I was madly, head-over-heels in love during the four years I spent living in London. Then my visa expired, and we had to make a decision: get married or break up. I wanted to get married, he didn’t. Instead of moving straight back to LA with no job, no place to live, and no James (not his real name out of respect for him), I deviated from all the usual breakup stages and moved to Africa.

But during my only previous difficult breakup in college, I had an idea for a screenplay and ended up selling a series of 12 webisodes, each one a somewhat satirical stage of the breakup process. These steps are NOT recommended, but many people do go through them whether they should or not. I do have a rough draft of a screenplay about Exes Anonymous, and I might get back to it one of these days. In any case, here are 12-steps for recovering from a breakup:

1. Yes, I know there are 6 billion people on the planet, but (s)he was the only one for me! (This stage tends to involve most of the drinking, crying, and whining to friends).

2. Of course our relationship was perfect and how dare you suggest otherwise! (The rose-colored glasses stage, when your well-meaning friends might try to tell you how much better off you are without your ex, but you’re not really ready to believe them yet).

3. Ego-boosting revenge sex (Not necessarily the healthiest stage, but definitely a common one. Here’s where you jump into bed with one, or many, in order to convince yourself you are attractive and desirable to someone).

4. Maybe he wants me back/This could still work! (Often in a long term relationship this accompanies the “exchanging of the stuff” moment. It’s that attempt to look fabulous when you know you’re going to see your ex so you just might win him/her back).

5. The forced rebound date (When your friends can’t take it anymore and set you up with anyone they can find so you’ll stop whining about your ex).

6. Sex with the ex (This stage doesn’t happen for everyone, but hopping into bed for that post-breakup one-last-time moment isn’t exactly rare. And after the typically horrible first rebound date, it makes your ex seem all the more appealing).

7. Stalking the ex (some variation or combination of: driving by the house to see if your ex is home and/or if (s)he has company, calling the cell phone when you know (s)he won’t answer just to hear their voice, or even “accidentally” bumping into your ex near where (s)he works.

8. Seeing the ex with someone new (It’s hard to predict when in the process this may happen, but eventually you’ll see or hear that your ex has met someone. And that’s like a knife to the heart all over again).

9. Rebound with potential (Here’s where you finally meet someone new who you could actually care about. They’re unlikely to be the love of your life, but at least you begin to realize your ex wasn’t the be-all and end-all).

10. The gloriously jealous ex (Again, this stage doesn’t happen for everyone, but frequently when the ex hears you’ve started dating someone new, (s)he might suddenly make contact, or even hope for stage #6 if that hasn’t happened yet).

11. Breaking up with the rebound (You may do the breaking up or you may get dumped once again, but from the beginning you knew deep down this relationship was temporary).

12. The final goodbye. (That moment when you begin to realize you’re actually getting over your ex and are ready to move on).

This entry was posted in Breaking Up and Getting Dumped, Relationships and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Exes Anonymous: a 12-step program for dealing with breakups

  1. Jeany Z says:

    Ha! My friend and I wrote our own similar version years ago (on a piece of graphing paper, of all things) and we titled it…”the downward spiral process of breaking up”. Yours is more comprehensive, though. Don’t forget though that this isn’t a straight line…often we start the vicious cycle of repeating the middle stages…and that’s what really makes us idiots.

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