Why do some women exact revenge? One woman explores the phenomena of the crazy ex.
One Monday night, my new guy and I returned to his apartment to further continue our evening when we had an unexpected visitor. I was all ready to offer the extra granola bar in my bag to the disheveled-looking woman sitting outside of his apartment complex only to have her piercing eyes give me the one over. "Can we talk, please?" She asked him. "Without HER being here?"
She practically spit out the word. This woman was not the homeless crackhead I expected, she was worse — she was my boyfriend's 31-year-old, professionally employed ex-girlfriend. She had spotted us out earlier in the evening and was none to happy to see her ex out with someone new.
After scurrying inside to avoid the confrontation, I began to wonder how I always seem to find myself attracted to men with vengeful ex-girlfriends. My boyfriend during college had an ex-girlfriend who was so bitter about my existence that she decided to enact revenge not only on him by spreading lies to all their friends, but she also took out her aggression on me by taking the most unflattering photos of me at a campus party – where I may or may not have been participating in a Flip Cup beer championship — and sending them over campus email for a menagerie of people to view.
Why do I have this problem? Am I attracted to the wrong kind of man — the type that loves you and then breaks you? Or have all the men in my life really dated women who my girlfriends and I like to refer to as "psycho" as we sit around and dissect their mutated personalities? My guess is both — I have always tended to fall for men who are charmers but that still doesn’t explain the all-consuming hatred the exes have toward the guy or myself.
Jonathan Alpert, a licensed psychotherapist practicing in New York City, explains, "People usually seek revenge around unresolved issues. Post-relationship, people have time to reflect on things, the role they played in it, and of course, the role the former partner played." Just ask Noelle S. Her hometown boyfriend was charming lots of women when he should have been charming just her. Before ending the relationship, Noelle invited her then-boyfriend over for a night of stargazing while her best friend egged his sports car.
"I was a young, jealous girl looking to get back at a guy and I happened to have a gal pal who was willing to help," she explains. While she doesn’t believe she would do something similar again, she has no regrets. "I [would] like to believe that the hours he spent scrubbing that car down made up for some of the hours that we, teeny bopper girls, spent bawling over him."
Noelle’s motivation fits in with patterns that Alpert has seen in practice. He explains, "Motivation for revenge might be to get even, prove a point, teach a lesson, have the last word, maintain a presence in the other’s person life in an unhealthy way, manipulate, or control his/her ex following the relationship."
Even celebrities are not immune to the actions of vengeful exes at the demise of their relationships. There are a number of recently bitter break-ups that remain notable — none more so than the divorce battle between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. Mills has consistently trashed McCartney to the press including claims that he was abusive to her during their marriage and made derogatory comments about her prosthetic leg. Upon the finality of their divorce, Mills took to the media again to comment on reports of the new women rumored to be in McCartney’s life. "I think he’s got three different girlfriends," she told Britain’s GMTV. "Better them than me."
So, are vengeful exes just a reality of life? Am I constantly going to need to be in fear that the apartment stalker is waiting for us at every return? Because so much of the root for revenge is the result of unresolved issues from the relationships, I might be out of luck since baggage from past relationships is virtually unavoidable. I guess I’ll just have to keep an extra granola bar in my bag, just in case.