One of my “guilty” pleasures is reading advice columns; partly out of some subversive human need to know others are struggling maybe, but mostly because I find many advice columnists are fantastic writers. I often skip the question and just read the advice because I like the prose.
I recently found a new one, Dear Wendy, and have come across several pieces of wisdom in it that I find worth taking to heart. My top three so far (paraphrased):
“S/he is not actually loving if you don’t feel loved.”
“Don’t bring your hurt from past relationships into new ones. Don’t put that baggage on another person. Then you become the person who is hurting someone.”
“Don’t spend time with an ex unless you’re also willing to invite their new significant other along (and be happy about it).”
I read a different article a moment ago that had similar advice to the last of those quotes, with the additional caveat of not staying connected to any exes you aren’t truly happy to see move on – through direct contact or even indirect contact like social media. And I think that’s a super important component of not just maintaining a friendship with those worthy of it, but also just in being a healthy adult in general.
I am the first to admit I will social-media-stalk the hell out of work connections but I do my damndest not to do the same when it comes to my exes, or the exes and future partners of people I date. I’ve done it a couple of times in the past in moments of weakness and stupidity and I’ve only regretted it.
I actually really hate knowing any details of the romantic histories of people I date. Particularly their sex lives. I wish people would just keep those things to themselves instead of always defining their life by their past. Listening to someone I’m dating talk about that sort of thing always just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach; which then of course repeats on loop in my head in my darkest moments, telling me I’ll never live up to what they had before.
It’s one thing when you can believe that shit is actually in their past, it’s another thing when you have to worry about how often they’re thinking about it. Or to wonder how important your relationship can really be if every girl they’ve ever spent time with gets the same title.
And I know I may sound like a hypocrite because I’m the one who stays friends with my exes, but it goes back to that third quote again; the ones I still talk to have moved beyond the realm of any romantic history. All doors are closed and they are no longer people I think about in that way or ever ruminate on my past with. I am always happy when they’re dating someone new; it means I don’t have to feel wary about their intentions with me, and often means I have another new friend in their current partner. What’s not to love?
And the only one I still have anger toward is completely blocked on all social media because I don’t want to have any inlets for those feelings; he’s best just being a frozen moment in time that I only have to learn from.
I do analyze all my past relationships to learn from them, but that extends to all types of relationships; in large part because I want to avoid the second quote – putting that baggage on other people. But also because I don’t ever want to be my past. I need to know how to keep it firmly behind me; otherwise what was the point of trying to grow in the first place?