“Ashton is a really great guy,” Willis told People earlier this year. “A really thoughtful, introspective guy.” Hell, Bruce . . . don’t let us get in the way of the reach-around.

Willis at least has an excuse: He has an image to worry about. Luckily, the rest of us can get away with doing properly pathetic things we’ll most certainly regret in the morning—stalking, drunk dialing, nasty e-mailing, backstabbing, messy breakup sex disguised as makeup sex. “People do a lot of stupid things,” says John Gray, the relationship guru who wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. “Men tend to seek revenge by indiscriminately trying to get laid. It’s like a man starving in the desert who suddenly comes across steak and omelettes.”

Going through a chorus line of headboard-shredding one-night stands is par for the course, though, as is taking your fair share of sniper shots. Believe it or not, getting drunk and telling your friends about the time your ex hooked up with that midget from Willow isn’t completely out of bounds. “As long as the trash talk is done in the right context,” Gray cautions. “And, of course, as long as it doesn’t get back to the other person.”

Good luck with that—these days, instant messaging, cell phones, and blogs make sure that gossip gets passed around like herpes. Even supposed relationship professionals can get hit by the fallout. Kerner’s book Be Honest—You’re Not That Into Him Either was not only a lucrative self-help guide but also a cleansing expulsion of steam directed at some of his former flames. In a chapter titled “The Cage,” Kerner documented his time with a woman who was a controlling taskmaster; he also mentioned a habit of falling for intellectually inferior waifs. Several of the ladies in question recognized themselves immediately. “The exes came out of the woodwork,” Kerner says. “And they were all very pissed off.”

And really, is there a better place to say “Eff you” than in the pages of a best seller?

By telling all the world that your ex is a frothing lunatic with a patch of hair the shape of Afghanistan on her tits, you’re not just burning bridges—you’re pissing on the ashes. The “scorched earth” policy allows you to blow things up and move on, and pretty much guarantees that you won’t accidentally reconcile after a late-night booty call. “You should be pretty glad to let go of your exes in general,” says Behrendt. “Otherwise, you become the creepy guy who wants to hang around with her and her new man. Which is basically saying ‘I have no life, and I’ll lie on the floor here while you guys spoon.’”

And really, that’s the kind of thing you want to leave to Bruce Willis.