What was wrong with me? Was I just selfish?
Here's a confession: I still talk to every single one of my exes.
I talk to the ones with whom things ended amicably, but I even talk to the douchey ones, the ones I broke up with on bad terms. I'm friendly with the one who drunkenly punched me in the face at a house party in 2008, the sexy creepy one with all of the 7 foot long snakes in his basement, the one who started dating my friend after they met at my birthday party (I still talk to my friend, too), the high school sweetie who had his mom break up with me over the phone...the list goes on.
Even if the split was bad initially, over the years I've gone out of my way to smooth it over. Part of me thinks it's because I want to ensure if we ever surface at the same watering hole, aka our hometown's sole grocery at 3 am, everything is cool and I don't have to run and hide in the frozen food section.
Another part of me thinks I'm just terrible at closing doors. This is actually both a literal and figurative issue I have. I leave all of the cabinets open in the kitchen, something that irks my current live-in to no ends.
“Close the cupboard after you retrieve your mug, please” is the physical symbolization of “You don't need to talk to that ex who slept with your roommate freshman year.”
So which is it? Am I just a habitual peacemaker? Or am I not-so-secretly scared of severing ties? Even the bad ones. Another fun fact is that while I do talk to most of my exes, I have never slept with one, so that's healthy, I think. Maybe I'm better at closing doors than I think.
Here's a taste of a terrifically awkward convo I had with my ex last week.
Ex: “Hey, congratulations on your book being published!”
Me: “Thanks, yeah that's actually why I'm calling.”
Me: “Yeah well the book follows the narrative of a relationship from start to finish.”
Ex: “Yeah I read that on Amazon...”
ME: “Right, well I sort of kind of definitely used ours.”
Ex: “Used our what?”
Me: “Our relationship...”
Me: “I changed your name...”
Me: “I made you seem really nice!”
Well, that was awkward. Luckily I was able to appease his initial anger by talking him through each scenario I wrote about, and mentioning the countless times I talk about his extensive foreplay skills. (See, there's another time! That makes a total of four solid fingerbang references published for the world to see...)
I also tend to date people who I was friends with first -- eff your friendzone, I do what I want. When you were friends first, it's easier to be friends after, too. Therefore, talking to your ex about their new girlfriend isn't awkward, because it's familiar to the conversations you used to have back in the day, before you were introduced to each other's genitals. Also -- aside from a handful of douchenuggets -- most of my exes are generally great people, which is probably why we started dating in the first place, and I don't want to totally miss out on them forever just because it didn't work out romantically.
Now when I say I “talk to,” my exes, I don't mean I dial them up on the reg. But if I can't have a genuinely friendly conversation with a past lover should the situation arise, then I worry there must be a reason. Like, for instance, if they treated me like crap and I haven't gotten over it, then maybe there are still feelings brewing?!
Recently, after some diligent creeping, I realized my current boyfriend stopped following his ex on Instagram. I immediately had a minor (irrational) emotional meltdown. I know it should be a good thing he doesn't want to see her #selfies everyday, but to me it signaled that thinking of her causes him emotional pain, and the only one who should be capable of paining his emotions is me.
Another reason I worry when a SigO doesn't talk to their ex is that maybe they were terrible to them, and one day they will also be terrible to me. Is their silence a proverbial lighthouse of relationship doom? It just might be!
“I just don't understand why you still talk to him,” said my groggy boyfriend. It was 2:30 am. I had just hung up the phone with an ex, who was remedying a recent breakup with an excess of Jim Beam.
“It's a good thing we're comfortable talking about this stuff,” I explained. Clearly I don't like him anymore if I can console him over losing the love of his life. It means not only are there no fragmented Feelings, but my ego is cool with hearing I wasn't the love of his life. If that's not the pinnacle of maturity, I don't know what is.
“Well he was sort of a dick to you, so I feel like he doesn't deserve your friendship,” my dude rationalized. “We're not together anymore, so that's like, the ultimate punishment for his wrongdoings, right?” I countered. (I guess I take back the thing about my mature ego...)
In my mind it works like this: If you can be cool with your exes, it signifies stability and maturity. This is probably false. In reality, it may be more mature to walk away from a situation that is no longer healthy or fitting, and then stay away. Far away. Perhaps I'm just too quick to forgive while simultaneously being scared of letting go of people who used to be important. I don't know, you tell me! How friendly are you with your exes?