I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
In my past article, I mentioned that I wasn’t an easy person to date. Sure, I’m abrasive and opinionated like most people and I still have a lot to work on but one of the things that I think shocks most people is that I tend to bring up my ex relationships on a somewhat regular basis. And from what the internet tells me, not only do women not want to hear this, but it clearly means that I am not “over” those relationships. This is usually what I hear from people in the beginning of the relationship but I tell them that I have no intentions of stopping. Then I tell them why.
We are made up of our experiences. Good and bad, they mold our fears, our tenacity, our goals, and how we respond to emotion. And each person we allow into our lives changes little bits of our personality. Again, good and bad. My father was a terrible man, but I often think about all the ways that he changed me – some for the better, some for the worse. The idea of his blood rushing through my veins terrifies me yet strengthens my resolve to become a better person. Now, I do see some of the negative aspects of his personality shine through on occasion and that scares the shit out of me. I hate it when I hear his voice come out of my mouth. But then I look in the mirror and remember the promises I have made to myself and I remember that I have done a pretty good job of keeping them. Equally motivated and threatened by his influence.
Each woman that I have allowed into my life has changed me as well. These women have influenced my life more than any teacher, coach, priest, and honestly – more than most of my family. So yeah, of course their influence will impact aspects of my daily life. You should be scared if it didn’t.
And truthfully, no. I am not “over” my past relationships – just like I am not “over” the death of my brother, just like I am not “over” the influence of my grandfather, and just like I am not “over” the shootings I have witnessed. No. Those memories don’t just disappear because I get older and they certainly don’t fade by ignoring them. Those memories, those people, that influence continues to shape my interactions with people. It makes me understand, empathize, and communicate better with others. And yes, in relationships I think it’s important to discuss the people who have shaped the person you have become. So I ask right away, “Tell me about your last relationship. Why did it end?” And what I noticed is that while most women tend to be shocked by that question – they never turn away from the opportunity to open up. Yes, I know it is “taboo” to talk about your exs, especially in the beginning of a budding relationship, but I haven’t really been one for convention or tradition so yeah, tell me. Tell me how your exs perceive you. Tell me how they would describe you. Tell me what they did to make you feel special or unappreciated. Because I want to learn what wrecked you. I want to know what keeps you up late at night – then I want to learn how not to treat you. I want to learn about what they did to make you feel small or unimportant. Because all of these experiences have shaped you into the woman sitting across from me over coffee and I would be a fool to think that every last one of us wasn’t majorly influenced by the people we loved.
Who knows us better than the people we have slept next to with dreams of futures? Who knows us more than the people who sat and held our hands while we opened up about our insecurities and dreams? Our exs know us better than anyone and that’s what makes them so dangerous. And that is how they bury themselves deep in our subconscious. Because we know there are people out there walking this planet that know the depths of our darkness, our secrets, and our weak spots. We know someone is walking the streets of this city with the Death Star plans and route to the exhaust port.
So no, I am not “over” my exs. They are with me everywhere I go and in the words I speak and in the way that I care about others. Their lessons stay with me and I see it in my actions and I hear it in the way I communicate. But am I still IN love with them, no. Not one. I do not crave their attention or lurk their social media. I don’t drive by their apartments and I don’t text them randomly at 2am out of loneliness or desperation. And I certainly do not carry some torch in hopes they will return to me. They are exs and in my past for a reason. And the reason is, we simply evolved past each other. And that’s fine. It is a fact of life that most people will fade out of our lives – but their influence lingers and hangs around even if we don’t want it to.
So yes, I do discuss my exs and their impact on me. When you say their name, when you bring them out in the open, it is vulnerable and disarming. But what it says is, “That was my past. This is why they are my past, and I hope you will be my future.” And I want them to know that the people who are part of my past were positive influences on me. Even if they lied, cheated, and stole from me (and they did), they still left me with lessons and for that, I am thankful.
People are insecure. We avoid talking about our exs with our current relationships because of what we believe is jealousy, but really it is just another person being reminded that they have to possibly live up to former expectations. What kind of car did he have? Did he have a lot of money? How big was his penis? Was he hot? Did he have a six pack? These are all questions that are running through our minds when we are sipping that coffee because we don’t know. And what happens when we are left with unanswered questions? We assume the worst. So fuck it, tell me if he had a big dick – I can handle knowing he was wealthy or was accomplished or had perfect skin. But do you like me? Are you intrigued by me? Do you see potential in me? Well then, good for your ex but he’s not here anymore for a reason. And that reason is because you’ve out evolved him and evolved into my life.
Like it or not, our past brought us to where we are today. Our experiences and the people involved – they directly influenced what we see in the mirror. So yes. If I love you. If I care about you, I want to know what makes you YOU. And sometimes it won’t be easy for me to hear, but if it knocks down some walls and answers some questions and shines a light on an aspect of your character that I didn’t know about, well then tell me about it. Tell me all about your exs and WHY they are in your past and not in your present. And hopefully that will bring us closer.
And isn’t that the point?