When the Ex Comes First: Breaking down Ariana, Pete, Bieber, and Baldwin
As Selena Gomez undergoes treatment for mental health issues, half of the attention goes to her former better half, Justin Bieber. Bieber’s wife Hailey Baldwin is helping him cope with Selena’s trials, while old photos of Jelena resurface during what is supposed to be their honeymoon phase. Pete Davidson faces a similar position as his (now ex) fiancee Ariana Grande mourns the passing of her ex, rapper Mac Miller. While one should comfort their mate through a draining period, what happens when unresolved emotions are wrapped up in an ex? How can you help a partner through this grey area of love, when love can be as unruly as jealousy?
In the last few months, Justin Beiber led a seemingly idyllic life with his new bride (assuming his new look isn't a cry for help). However, after news of Selena’s treatment broke, paparazzi photos showed Justin crying to his wife. The couple’s penchant for PDA was replaced by tearful moments and counseling sessions with Justin’s pastor. Some interpret this as lingering romantic feelings between the Bieber and Gomez, though Baldwin reportedly remains confident that their union is strong. Baldwin’s conviction may be due to a book Beiber has referenced, The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment With the Wisdom of God. About marriage Bieber said: "...It's not real if it doesn't have any bad days."
If your partner is experiencing similar issues surrounding his or her ex, acknowledge that every connection does not break the moment a relationship ends. Also acknowledge that those connections may not necessarily be romantic. Find solace in the fact that your mate is capable of true feelings, regardless of romantic title. This openness to a range of love may benefit you as well, since (spoiler!) most relationships end sooner or later. There will come a time when you and your current partner will see each other on the street and say the obligatory “you look well”. If on that fateful day you were physically or emotionally devastated, you may expect your former one-and-only to offer support, even if it’s only in the form of empathy.
Though the drama of an ex can be draining in some cases, nothing compares to an unexpected death. When Mac Miller passed away of an overdose, Ariana Grande took to instagram to pay him tribute and to air out her feelings: "i adored you from the day i met you when i was nineteen and i always will." While the official reason for Pete and Ariana’s broken engagement is that it was too soon, many can’t help but to speculate if her feelings about Miller’s death played a role. Though the speculation is understandable, it is not tenable. A finality such as death can stir up conflicting feelings in a former mate because there is no socially approved way for an ex to grieve.
When an ex dies, it magnifies the fact that ex’s are no longer part of the family, perhaps not even friends. With celebrities, we expect them to at least acknowledge their love for a deceased ex, as Ariana has. When it comes to the rest of us however, no one is waiting for an ex to spill emotions. Grief is expected to be handled gracefully, in respect for the those who “should” be effected and for the current relationship. Since social expectations can stifle the healing process, there needs to be an outlet for the person the grieve, which is where a generous partner can step in. Though sitting through hours of stories about bae and an ex can feel masochistic, it may prove critical to your growth as a couple. Becoming a source of compassion for your grieving mate can strengthen your connection.
Nonetheless, being a pillar of understanding may leave you feeling depleted. Since your partner may have nothing to give, lean on someone else in your life. Feeling cared for by those besides your romantic partner may replenish some of the attention you’ve been emitting. It may also help you internalize the fact that love comes in many forms, keeping feelings of jealousy at bay.
Supporting a partner through problems concerning an ex will not be easy. An equal partnership can become lopsided, your emotional endurance will be tested and you may second guess the bond the two of you share. But remember, love encompasses more than what’s on Facebook’s relationship status pick list. It grows, it diminishes, it morphs into different forms. As one half of a couple, you made an implied decision to help your person navigate through life, for however long you’re in it together.
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