Breaking up is painful, stressful, and all-consuming. But for many, the real torture comes after you've somewhat recovered and you find out that your ex has a new love in his life. That's when the real angst starts. Whether you're of the "hook up" generation or a more mature woman in her prime (don't forget that 50 is the new 40!), it's always upsetting to discover. And with the proliferation of social media, it's nearly impossible to avoid.
But for us older gals, seeing your ex gallivant about town with someone younger and hotter is practically a cliché. Remember middle-aged Kevin Spacey drooling all over the very sexy, young Mena Suvari in American Beauty? Or Humbert Humbert obsessing over the teenage Lolita in Vladimir Nabokov's classic novel? Or any one of the countless examples of May-December romances that drive the plots of Hollywood films?
This phenomenon goes beyond the fictional realm. Singer Rod Stewart traded in his wife for a younger model. And more recently, there's Demi Moore, who was reportedly cheated on and then dumped by Ashton Kutcher, a man sixteen years her junior. That's bad enough. But now Moore has to move on while seeing tabloid photos of her ex and his new love, Mila Kunis, who Esquire just named the "Sexiest Woman Alive" for 2012. This would certainly be painful for anyone, but even more so when the new lady looks like you did twenty years ago. Salt, meet wound. Rub it in. Then repeat.
Luckily, most of us don't need to worry about having our faces plastered all over the tabloids (we also don't make millions of dollars for a few months of work, either). But thanks to Facebook and other forms of social media, being forced to watch your ex move on with another person isn't just a special form of torture reserved for celebrities.
I've certainly had my own share of heartache as a not-so-famous actress. Many years ago, I was dating a well-known, bad boy actor and now -- ugh -- a Chavez activist. On a trip to New York, he met a very famous blonde, gap-toothed pop star that he dumped me for and soon thereafter married. I was forced to see his face everywhere, with her by his side.
That was a painful episode, but being dumped in your 20s is very different than when you're in your 40s, 50s and 60s. When you're young and reeling from hurt, you at least recognize that time is on your side and that you'll meet someone else. (At least when some of the pain subsides.) But for older women, age and the availability of men are inversely proportional -- as you get older, the number of eligible male suitors decreases.
And so, for all of you women out there who have recently experienced a setback in your breakup recovery by seeing your ex out and about with someone else, here are a few key things to keep in mind to help put him behind you:
1. Time is marching on and you aren't the only one getting older. His strutting a younger version of you around only further proves the fact that he is insecure about himself and aging. Take solace in the fact that he's feeling his mortality, too.
2. You aren't competing with this young chick. You simply need to focus on continuing to become the best person you can be. Take care of your emotional and physical health. For you, not him.
3. Focus on helping others. Women who radiate love and wisdom are true goddesses and infinitely more beautiful than any hot young thing.
4. It's important to get back out there in the dating world. After all, the more you date, the more you'll know about what you want (and don't want) in a partner. And remember, dating someone younger is not exclusive to men. Just because your ex dumped you for someone younger, it doesn't mean that all men are like that. Many younger men find older, sexy women very attractive. Why not find a handsome, young stud who will make you feel desirable and rock your ex's world?
5. You know yourself now in a way that you didn't when you were younger. You can enjoy the company of yourself and good friends, without needing a man.
Don't believe me? Take a look at these older, powerful gals who don't care about what others say: There's Susan Sarandon, who left Tim Robbins for an even younger, better looking guy. Or Ellen Barkin, who after being dumped by billionaire Ron Perelman, found a talented young director almost thirty years her junior.
Ladies, remember your strength and power. Moving on does not mean withering away, but rather blossoming into full womanhood. (That sort of makes it sound like a second puberty, but just go with it.) Perhaps he'll also see it, if only a little too late. But it's not about him anymore. It's for and about you.
And hey -- if he moved on, you can too.
Follow Stacey Nelkin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/StaceyInsight