What is it about exes?

I was listening to The Dream’s latest album “1977” and stumbled across “Wedding Crasher.” The song finds Terius Nash purging his feelings just before his ex’s wedding. It’s him, a bottle of Patron, and drunk tears, confronting her then, only because well, “I hate to crash your wedding with this s—,” he sings. (After four albums, I’ve concluded that man isn’t over his first wife, but anyway…)

In a classic “too little, too late” move that could rival Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes on “Miss You,” The Dream croons, “You probably not thinking about me/ but I’m here thinking about you/ know it might be a little late/ to admit that I was just afraid.”

Ugh. Unless you married (and are still married to) your high school sweetheart, you’ve been there.

But are you stuck there?

Some women are.

I spend a good chunk of my free time answering questions about dating and relationships on Formspring (for the uninitiated, it’s a site where you can anonymously ask anything). A good third of the 13,000 questions I’ve answered have to do with an ex who a woman just can’t get over, who she wants to call, but knows she has no business contacting, who knows he has a new boo, or a new wife, or another woman pregnant, but despite logic, facts, and common sense holds out hope that there could be a reconciliation. The question of exes comes up so often there, I addressed it in my column, “Surviving the Break Up” in the October issue of ESSENCE (Michelle Obama cover).

For that article, I talked to “AJ” a woman who said that since her last break up three years ago, she found a new boo, and dropped 27lbs. Still, when she heard her ex, the father of her child, had gotten his new girlfriend pregnant, she was devastated. “You would have thought someone told me Jesus wasn’t real the way I carried on,” she joked (sort of).

Alduan Tartt, PhD is an Atlanta-based psychologist and author of “The Ring Formula” noted that Black women can take a breakup especially hard, because we’re dogged by the stigma that we “can’t keep a man,” an idea that shifts the burden of maintaining a relationship onto the woman, and relieves her partner of any accountability in the relationship’s demise.

Tartt added that holding on to an ex was less about the person and more about a belief that you don’t think you can have that feeling again (for clarity, you can). He offered that keeping the proper perspective is of paramount importance in letting go and moving on for real, not just going through the motions.

Perhaps instead of thinking, ‘No one will ever love me again,’ or perhaps worse, ‘I’m a failure,” we should try to see a breakup as an opportunity to meet the Next One, since clearly the ex you may be pining for isn’t The One. That could save all of us, men included, the messy tears, and perhaps a bit of our sanity when an ex moves on. 

Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: Your Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Ask her your dating and relationship questions on Formspring.me/abelleinbk