It’s difficult to see a former partner move forward with increased commitment, planning a future life together with someone else. You feel like you are a step behind.
Such is the situation fashion model Gigi Hadid finds herself in. She really wants her boyfriend, Zayn Malik, to propose after she found out her ex, Joe Jonas, just got engaged.
It is a common response to feel envious when your ex has moved on from being with you and gets engaged to someone else. It can be even more challenging if you are either at a standstill in your current relationship or, worse, if you’re not in one at all. Engagement envy can strike and push you ahead when in fact you might not be ready to get engaged, as well as lead to pressure that can create conflict. How, then, can you handle this situation and see the potential good you have right now instead of focusing on what could have been or forcing what isn’t meant to be yet?
Even though a relationship is over, there can be that urge to look back and wonder what you could have done differently. There might be a lot of bad that led you to the breakup, but somehow people tend to remember that pot of good that brought and kept you together, no matter how small it might be. With that in mind, it is hard not to wonder what you might have been able to do to work things out with your ex. Should you have tried harder, or given the love you once shared a second chance? These feelings can really come to the forefront when your ex becomes engaged to another person. You might even think that could have been, maybe should have been, you.
Those negative feelings swirl around the sense that you’ve been cheated. You were the one who put up with so much negativity and worked at getting your partner to change for the better, and now someone else is going to reap the benefits. Or you might feel it’s not fair that your ex so easily found another partner while you might still be looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right. Or, as in Gigi’s case, you might actually be part of a new couple, but seeing your ex get engaged to someone else stirs up your own desire to do the same. This could be stemming from not wanting to see your former lover be more successful than you, resulting in your forcing your new partner to take the next step before either of you is ready.
All of these scenarios have the undercurrent of envy, which is never a pleasant place to be. So what can you do? First and foremost, remember what was different about the relationship you used to have and why you chose to end it in the first place. Trust your gut that you were taking care of yourself, and the breakup was in your best interest. If your ex was the one to call things off it might help to realize that the expectations he or she had for you were probably unrealistic, and take comfort in the fact that you are now free from that conflict and disappointment.
If you are currently not involved with somebody, it is really important to keep in mind that the connection you had with your ex served a purpose in helping you grow and discover what you are looking for in someone and what you’re not. Even though they are now involved with someone else, try to keep that separate from your life and instead let it shed a light on what you want in your next relationship. Rather than getting caught up in feeling left behind or abandoned, or a failure that you and your ex couldn’t make it work, focus on what you took out of it to better judge and choose your next partner.
Finally, if you are in a relationship as Gigi is, and your ex is already engaged to someone else, consider that this new situation for your ex may perhaps be a rebound romance. They might be in a hurry to have a commitment, and it still might be just as fraught with the complex issues you had together. Just because he or she is choosing to get married now does not mean it will necessarily be smooth sailing ahead. If you can, sit back and maybe find some relief in the fact that it is not you on the road to marriage with someone you already know brings discontent and hard times to the table.
Hopefully Gigi and Zayn will get engaged when the time is right for them, not her ex.