The 10 commandments of how to treat an ex-lover

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'Thou shalt not presume to pity your ex' - Getty
'Thou shalt not presume to pity your ex' - Getty

Is there anyone in the world over 50 who isn’t gripped by the ongoing relationship dramas of former Fleetwood Mac bandmates Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham? You don’t even have to care that much about music (although the album that documented their break-up, Rumours, is the 10th best-selling of all time). You don’t have to have had a dreamy couples’ crush on the two of them when they were lovers and she dressed like a fairy witch and he had an afro the size of the moon. All you need to know is that talent plus chemistry brought these two together, then tore them apart, and they’ve been sniping at each other ever since – which naturally makes us think there’s unfinished business there. (We like to imagine these epic make-ups: Debbie Harry and Chris Stein; Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull; both Abba couples reunited in a Super Trouper-style double wedding. It makes us happy.)

Anyway, given some things Buckingham said in a recent interview, he’s been thinking along similar lines, for different reasons. To paraphrase, he said that while it took him years to get over her, it’s possible that Nicks has never got over him, which explains why she kicked him out of the band three years ago. He also said that having a wife and family is his great achievement, whereas she “has placed more importance on her professional life”, which has made it harder for her to move on.

Ah. Ooh. There goes any hope of a late love rematch and probably (if we know women) so much as a side-glance at the next MTV Awards. Because Buckingham has just broken the top two of the 10 Ex Commandments, in spectacular style. These are:

1) Thou shalt not intimate that your ex is still in love with you while you are in love with someone else

This is the worst possible ex behaviour and everyone sees it for what it is, revenge of the chucked: Buckingham not only appears to still have a problem with being dumped, 45 years on (“She was the one who moved away from me back then,” he says in a bit of classic face-saving speak), he’s also determined to prove she lived to regret it. And the proof is he’s married (just – his wife filed for divorce in June) and she isn’t.

2) Thou shalt not use a woman’s childlessness against her

Because that’s exactly what he’s done. Hinted that poor Stevie never got to enjoy the deeper and more meaningful joys of parenthood and instead has been stuck in her creative rut, chugging along in her sad spinster’s life, all music, music, music, and apricot scarves draped on lampshades. We’re pretty sure Lindsey would consider himself to be a feminist and yet here he is doing the thing that men do to women who wouldn’t have them: but look, she ended up childless. Which brings us back to Buckingham complaining that Nicks booted him out of the band because she’s in love with him. Or could it be that he just irritates the hell out of her?

3) Thou shalt not call your ex mad

To his credit, Buckingham doesn’t go there and that’s impressive because spend 20 minutes in a room with a disgruntled ex and they will eventually get around to the madness of their former partner. Sometimes there is madness, to be fair, but not every single time.

4) Thou shalt not pretend the relationship was nothing

Be wise. It could have worked out if not for the cocaine/timing/work commitments/undiagnosed narcissistic tendencies.

5) Thou shalt not presume to pity your ex

It didn’t work out and now I’m worried about her/him. Could you keep an eye on her/him while I head to the Maldives with Jacques? No. If you’ve caused pain, deal with it. (Note to those dealing with friends who have parted company: our personal research suggests that of all the bad sides of divorce the very worst is the concerned enquiry, head cocked slightly on one side, mouth turned down in an “Aw, poor you” attitude, because maybe they chose this. And if they didn’t, the very last thing they will want is Bambi eyes, squeezed hands and the pity of smug marrieds.

6) Thou shalt not take against the new partner down the line

Obviously it can come as a shock to discover that the person you thought was your soulmate is now with a moron but, oh well. Refusing to engage with the new partner looks a bit like you aren’t over it.

7) Thou shalt do the work to get over it

Accept that it will take time. Accept that it’s sad. Accept that there were faults on both sides. Maybe the fault was almost entirely theirs, but maybe you needed something different. Maybe you’re well out of it.

8) Thou shalt recognise that we’ve heard it all before

He got fat and drank (No kidding? While you were off having an affair?). She slept around (Really? While you were travelling 320 days of the year?). There will be occasions when one party outdoes themselves in terms of disappointing behaviour. That’s OK. Your friends will punish them.

9) Thou shalt recognise that what happens next is not a competition

You live alone with a cat. He lives the high life in the SoF. Who says he’s happier?

10) Thou shalt remember the good things

He was the world’s fastest nappy changer. You were good tennis partners. Or we made some of the best rock music in the world together.

Do you agree with these commandments? Are there any you would add? Tell us in the comments section below
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