the myth of the crazy ex-girlfriend
If there was one word I would have used to describe my husband’s ex-girlfriend, it was ‘crazy’. I said it and I said it often. So did he and I have to say, I took a particular malicious joy whenever the word passed his lips in regard to her.
After all, she had harassed both him and me over email for months, ending in a particularly malicious final email directed at me.
However to call her ‘crazy’ for this is not only unfair, but it’s untrue. And by doing so, I was helping to perpetuate a particularly sexist myth that aims to treat women in break ups like unreasonable banshees.
After all, when it comes to love, we all do things that are pretty embarrassing in hindsight. Both girls AND guys. I don’t think that I have met someone who hasn’t made the drunken phone call, sent that regrettable text, or said something stupid out of a rare (or not so rare) flash of jealousy.
I can basically pinpoint all of those moments that my now-husband could use in the event of a breakup to demonstrate to himself and his friends that I’m “crazy”. Because yes, I have done some pretty stupid things and even overreacted in the name of love. But so has he. And yet, simply because women haven’t been conditioned to think this way about men, I would never dream of labelling him crazy.
Love itself is a little crazy. It’s fueled solely by emotion. I’m sure we have all had a friend who has loved someone completely incompatible with themselves, or who is even just a downright jerk. Love isn’t simple. It doesn’t make sense. And it’s certainly not rational. So to expect a person who has been hurt by someone that they love to react rationally is ridiculous.
What really bothers me is that while both sexes act just as irrationally and both have very silly moments in the name of love, guys don’t tend to be labelled as ‘crazy’ over them. Because society has taught us that it is women who are irrational. It is women who act unreasonably in relationships and during breakups. And it’s not just guys saying this: it is women as well. After all, while I have called my husband’s ex crazy multiple times, my own ex acted irrationally after our breakup and I would never have thought to call him crazy. Because he wasn’t. He was hurt.
Just as Joel’s ex wasn’t crazy. She was simply hurt by someone she loved very deeply. And we all know that when it comes to love, it can be hard to react calm and sensibly at the best of times. To make assumptions based on someone’s weakest moments is cruel, and to call them crazy, whether to yourself or others, is not only unfair, but completely untrue.
(Image credit: 1.)