Romantic Revenge Refined
However, there's a difference between wanting -- even plotting -- revenge, and actually exacting it. While it's natural to want revenge, it can be risky to carry it out.
Here's the main problem: When you carry out -- or even just dwell on -- revenge, "you're stirring up the ashes of your own hurt and resentment," says Dr. Hindy. "It's really harming you more than the other person. You're not sharing the pain; you're increasing it. It's not like you have a gallon of pain, and when you give him some, you've got less. It's more like you have a gallon -- and create two gallons."
It's not advisable, for example, to host an "I'm Over Bill" party, as Stella, 29, of Chicago, now realizes -- though she sure was tempted to after her marriage ended. Calling it by that name means...you're not.
Also, consider that poorly conceived revenge plots might wind up making you look bad -- and thus feeling worse. "You don't want to do anything now that's going to make you wince later," says Barreca. Why? Because you want him to experience regret, not relief. In other words: the last thing you want to be is the "psycho ex."
"I don't recommend the 'psycho ex' revenge plots," says Dawn, 29, of New York City. "Let's just say everyone should go for a nice long run or hit the weights instead of calling the mother of her ex's new girlfriend at 2 a.m. and asking if she knows where her daughter is." Yes, Dawn actually did make that call -- and yes, it still makes her wince. Recently, someone asked Dawn's friend if he knew her, adding, "I heard she was totally crazy."
As if that's not deterrent enough, look at it this way: We think of revenge as "getting even." But why would you want to be "even" with a "jerk"?