It’s time to lay down some love advice. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might remember that I spent a year of college working as a self-proclaimed dating expert for an online dating blog (self-proclaimed as in not really an expert). When I read Autumn’s post on her feelings about her boyfriend’s ex, it stirred the “relationship guru” in me. Ladies, we have to stop thinking about the people in our significant other’s past who aren’t a part of their present. It’s not healthy for the relationship and has the potential to destroy all we’ve worked for.
This is something I have experience with. I met D less than a year after he broke up with a long time girlfriend of five years. The man was prepared to marry this woman until she broke it off. I thought it was completely reasonable at the time to ask about why and how she ended things, but the pain was still fresh. He told me very little.
I let this eat at me for a long time. There were many nights I spent searching my soul and imagining horrid scenarios about why he wouldn’t share this information with me. If it wasn’t for the friend that introduced us, I would have probably ruined the relationship. She, however, had experience with a terrible break up of her own. In talking to her about how she approaches new relationships after heartbreak, I began to understand.
I was being selfish. Those ‘soul searching’ nights were all about my self-consciousness. I was the one making comparisons, not D. Moreover, D was the owner of the memories of his failed relationship. They were his to share if and when he wanted. I had no business asking him for details.
Here’s how I look at exes – especially exes of a significant other.
Do they still love that person? In most cases, the answer is yes.
We are always changing. Every day we are different from the person we were the day before. When we love someone, we love them in that moment. They, too, change into a different person every day. Maintaining a relationship requires two individuals to fall in love with each other again and again. They must always be present and work to love the new person their love has become.
Sometimes, people fail to pay attention to the changes until the person they once loved is dramatically different. Sometimes a person may change in such a way that it just isn’t possible to love them anymore. At those times, a relationship may end. The people who loved will always be in each other’s hearts. They will always remember the good times they had with them. Though people change and relationships fade, they will always love the person they were, the person they loved.
I don’t think it’s fair to ask someone about their past unless they bring it up. Moreover, I don’t think it’s fair to expect them to forget past love. Just because they have memories of a person they loved, a person who no longer exist in that form, does not mean they don’t love you. Love is different and unique for every person. No two relationships will ever be the same.
Jealously and curiosity toward a significant other’s exes are normal, but they are also a burden. They will ruin your relationships. Don’t let the past hold you back from the present. You are the one they have chosen for this moment. If you want it to stay that way, get to know who they are and how they change every day. Be ever-present, every supporting and leave the past in the past.
P.S. ...but please pay attention to red flags. This advice only applies to exes, not to other areas of a significant other's past. Lastly, nothing is an excuse of lying. If a significant other lies about their past, that's a bad sign.