“Is she pretty?” always seems to be the question your girlfriends resort to when you tell them your ex has a new girlfriend. There’s this idea that if his new girl is “less pretty than you are,” fatter, or less stylish, that you somehow won the breakup because after all – he downgraded, right?
Ciara’s song “I Bet” is empowering for a number of reasons. It’s about moving on from a good-for-nothing, cheating ex and like most pop breakup songs, there’s of course a line about the new or “other” girl.
“Is that your bitch over there, giving me the ugly stare?
The one with the silicone ass, and the Brazilian hair?”
In Beyonce’s Lemonade single “Sorry” there’s the “Becky with the good hair” line that caused the Beyhive to stalk and harass Rachel Roy’s Instagram page after referencing it in an unrelated post.
But as painful and uncomfortable as learning about his new girl might be, comparing yourself to her is never quite as satisfying or healing as it may initially seem. It fact, it actually has the opposite effect. Whether it’s subconscious or not, it oftentimes leaves people asking themselves why they weren’t enough.
“People in general do have this thing about social comparison,” says psychologist, coach, consultant, and public speaker, Dr. Cristy Lopez. “It’s part of human nature and unfortunately, that’s where a lot of people try to get or manipulate their self-esteem, by comparing themselves to others and that can work in very bad ways.
We live in a social media run world that makes it way too easy to access information quickly on someone’s life, which is why I call bullshit on any woman who tells me she’s never checked to see her ex’s new partner on Facebook or Instagram, especially if their page shows up on your suggested friends or people to follow. With that said, it’s not exactly the healthiest thing to do.
According to a Western University study, 88 percent of 18 to 35-year-olds have stalked their exes social media pages and 80 percent have stalked their ex’s new partners. That’s a lot. But here’s where it gets even more interesting, the study also found that all this stalking causes these people even more distress.
We’ve all done it and we’ve all been there. We’ve checked out our ex’s new girl, we obsessed over every single selfie and either told ourselves she was basic AF or tortured ourselves because we thought she was too pretty. We rolled our eyes at her obnoxious hashtags and we judged the shit out of her outfits. We’ve asked ourselves: Is her body better than mine? Are her eyes as big as mine? Is her nose bigger than mine? What is she wearing? We might have even gotten our girlfriends involved so we can all judge the chick together in efforts to make ourselves feel better about the fact that he’s moved on to this new person.
But regardless of what we/you/me thought of her, it never makes anyone feel better afterwards.
“There are several ways people get their self-esteem and one of the big ways is appearance,” says Dr. Lopez. And unless you’re going to go and meet the new girl in person, appearance is really all you’re going to find – on social media anyway because that’s what’s readily available. That’s where the social comparison comes in, but whether the person is “pretty” or not really doesn’t matter because that’s not the reason why your relationship didn’t work with him and her looks are not going to be enough to sustain their new relationship.”
Comparing clearly does more damage than good. It’s also pretty anti-feminist, if you really think about it. I can’t possibly say I’m all about “girl power” and “women’s empowerment” when I’m making exceptions for the women who are now seeing my exes. There’s absolutely nothing empowering about shitting on another woman to feel better about yourself.
“The idea that someone left you for someone more attractive doesn’t make logical sense but for some people it makes psychological sense because what they’re trying to do is either raise or confirm their low self-esteem,” says Dr. Lopez. “Every time you do this you are ruminating, which is strengthening the neurological network in your brain around that original, negative thought of not being good enough. This is how people get stuck in depression or wind up becoming self-destructive, because they are strengthening their own low self-esteem.”
Lopez recommends replacing your negative thoughts with positive ones.
“Whenever you feel yourself going down a downward spiral, remind yourself why this relationship with your ex didn’t work because it essentially has nothing to do with this new girl or her looks, even if he was cheating on you with her,” she says. “Remind yourself what the reality of that guy is, of that previous relationship, and remind yourself that you are enough and you are valuable regardless of who he’s with now.”
Amen to that!