Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Different Fights

"He's still friends with his ex-girlfriend on facebook. He won't delete her! We've been arguing about this for two days. LOOK AT HER!"

Earlier this evening I received a string of frantic messages, followed by an even more frantic phone call, from a psychotic friend we'll call A. Her boyfriend of just under a year, as you can probably gather from the statement above, is currently steadfast in his refusal to unfriend his ex-girlfriend on facebook.

While I understand that this is a big deal to my fellow Crazy Bitch, there, I'm going to surprise the ENTIRE INTERNET by saying that I'm not actually taking her side on this one. (See disclaimer.)

DISCLAIMER: Please note that I don't advocate this kind of behaviour, despite understanding it completely. I don't think people need to pretend that the past hasn't happened, and I don't think that communication should stop when people break up. I also don't think facebook matters. But whatever.

I went and had a look at this girl. She is the kind of ex-girlfriend we all dread, I'm afraid. Even I - someone who can spot flaws in a fresh manicure at twenty paces - cannot fault her aesthetic appeal.

And as I looked up from her facebook page to the tear-stained face of my closest confidante, taking note of the false eyelashes now clinging to one of her smudged eyebrows, I felt a massive tug of sympathy.

I get it. Of course I do. We all do.

That said, it might come as a bit of a shock for you to find out that I don't set much store by the previous relationships of people that I'm dating. My jealousy tends to focus itself upon the people that might replace me, not the ones who have gone before and who can no longer be deemed a threat.

And that's largely the situation here. This ex-girlfriend has moved on, just as A's boyfriend has, and there is absolutely nothing to suggest that there is anything more between them than an innocent link on a social networking site.

But try telling A that.

I imagine that a few of you have been in this situation. I certainly have, just not for several years and certainly not while playing the part of Crazy Bitch.

Still, I can guarantee that this exchange took place at some point:

"We don't even talk!"
"If you don't talk, then why do you need her as a friend on facebook?"
"She added me. I was just being polite!"
"Do you still fancy her?"
"We don't even talk!"

Ad infinitum.

As this is my blog, I should probably tell you that I would, at this point, recommend that you concede while reserving the right to bring the whole thing back up whenever it suits you in the future. But for now I'd be done.

A, however, hasn't spoken to her boyfriend about anything else for two days.

The key thing here is that they are fighting about entirely different things.

Right now, he is under the impression that this is simply about the facebook thing. He thinks that A is trying to control him, and he's not going to let that happen. He, I imagine, probably thinks that the whole thing would stop if he just unfriended his ex. And, after a day or so more of this, he probably will do as he's been asked in an attempt to return things to normal. BUT IT WON'T HELP.

To A, this is about more than facebook. By dragging this out, her boyfriend has assisted her in perpetuating the belief that she is not enough for him. That, in the past year, she has not made enough of an impact on him for this other girl to pale into insignificance. His repetition of the phrase 'but I'm not with her anymore, I'm with you' has not had the desired comforting effect, but has actually convinced her that, given the chance, he would be with this girl again. Effectively, in two days, A has managed to convince herself that the whole relationship has been a pointless endeavour because she hasn't managed to match up to the standards that she perceives as having been set by the ex-girlfriend.

What HE wants is for her to stop being a Crazy Bitch and making a big deal out of nothing. What SHE wants is for him to understand that this is horribly important and that she's feeling insecure and unwanted.

Do you see? Two different fights.

Now, learning to deal with a Crazy Bitch is much easier than stopping your significant other from being one. Here is what I would suggest:

That cyclical conversation that we discussed? Avoid it at all costs. The reason you aren't deleting this person is not out of love for them, and probably not even out of loyalty, but more than likely out of a strong desire to remain out from 'under the thumb' for as long as possible. Tell her that. You'll still have an argument, but it will be an entirely different one.

DO NOT DISMISS HER FEELINGS. Nothing is more likely to make a Crazy Bitch dig her heels in than someone telling her that she's over-reacting. Feelings are always valid, whether you understand them or not.

My final recommendation - and this probably applies to most Crazy Bitch situations - is to TALK TO EACH OTHER.

Because, on a personal note, wouldn't it have been easier to hear all that from her instead of reading it here? And wouldn't it have saved us all about five hours?

Don't both come crying to me for free therapy, I've got stuff to do.