He Said, She Said: Getting Revenge On An Ex

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Should you get revenge on an ex? A pro-revenge woman and anti-revenge man debate.

Should you get revenge on an ex? If you've ever had a cold-hearted lout stomp all over your heart, you may be saying yes. Revenge makes you feel better, and if it's not illegal or violent, why not give yourself the satisfaction of seeing your ex suffer?

On the other hand, maybe getting revenge will actually make you feel worse. It's not going to win you any points in the integrity game, and that momentary gratification might give way to regret. 

Here, Ted McPherson (anti-revenge) and Judy McGuire (pro-revenge) debate: is getting revenge a good idea? Read what they have to say, and let us know what you think in the comments.

Judy: Why are you so anti-revenge?

Ted: I think when people feel humiliated, they have a strong need to restore order. Someone cheated on you, so you need to rebalance the fairness of the universe. My mom's a psychotherapist, and she's always saying that one of the most basic needs is the need to feel virtuous. Is Revenge Cheating OK?

Judy: See, I don't feel that need, which is key!

Ted: Playing some kind of prank on them isn't going to make them realize they've behaved badly. It's more likely to reinforce their feelings of being victimized and deserving to do whatever they want. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind, as they say.

Judy: It's true that some people feel like victims when they're not. So many cheaters have a need to blame their partner for their transgressions. While yes, the partner did have a role in building a sucky relationship, the choice to step outside the relationship was theirs. I think things like alerting the other person's spouse, or mutual friend might be looked at as vengeful, when it's really not.

But when you have a nude photo of them, bloated and with a boa wrapped around their neck and you show it to a few girlfriends—who's that hurting? Besides my girlfriends, I mean.

Ted: But that's something they might never even be aware of, which I'm not sure even counts as revenge.

Judy: I don't know—it makes you feel a little better at their expense, so it counts. 

Ted: It just might not feel good in the long run. Taking the low ground, even if you've been wronged, can eat away at your self-esteem over time.

Judy: Well, I showed the photo about eight years ago and my friends still laugh about it. I don't feel bad.

A friend of mine found out she was pregnant and that her husband was cheating on the same day. She threw all his stuff into boxes, dumped some cat litter on top, and on the back of his favorite shirt, she wrote "Too fat to fit." I KNOW she doesn't regret that! 7 Mistakes That Prolong The Misery Of A Breakup

Someone who just "isn't that into you" (ack!) doesn't deserve anything bad—that's just the way it goes. But someone who's taken your money and damaged your dignity—well, a little revenge-lite might make you feel a little better.

Ted: Oh, it's revenge-lite we're talking about! Look, bottom line, there's a lot of gray here. But I think that almost everyone, even a truly awful boyfriend/girlfriend, deserves directness. It's hard to be direct, which is why a lot of times, we're indirect or passive-aggressive. It'd probably be a lot more productive to say, "Look, girlfriend/boyfriend, you have behaved very badly for the following reasons."

Judy: I don't know—the nudie photo guy—I broke up with him by dumping a pint of beer over his head and stomping on his hat. It was the most dramatic stupid thing ever and I don't regret it. Sometimes you've said your piece and it just doesn't get through. And a lady gets frustrated! Though I am NOT advocating violence or criminal activity. 10 Signs You're Over Your Ex

Ted: Dumping cat litter in his shirt drawer is not going to have much effect on his conscience. Especially if he's already shown his conscience to be pretty unmovable.

Judy: Nope. But it made her feel a little better. That was a guy without a conscience. Telling him a jerk would've been like talking to my cat, except my cat listens. Hasn't anyone ever really ripped your heart out? 

Ted: Well, one girl I was dating long-distance cheated on me with an ex-marine. That had a certain mental vividness. But I didn't really feel the urge to get revenge. I felt the urge to drive too fast and listen to Megadeth.

I think one of the most valuable things you can have as a person is your sense of your own decency. Compromise that at your own risk, y'know?

Judy: I guess my sense of decency is a little, uh, flexible!

Ted: Plus, revenge can backfire on you.

Judy: One time it backfired horribly on me—I slept with his best friend and roommate, and the guy who dumped me never found out. It was really dumb because the roommate turned out to be crazy and he wore support hose due to horrible varicose veins. I didn't know this until he was naked.

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