Ex-partners. We’ve all got them.
Hidden away in our past, tucked out of sight from our present relationships, neatly filed under the Been There/Done That outbox of our memories.
Occasionally, we may think of them; a joke here…a tender smile of nostalgia there…a quick metaphorical bitch slap at other times. Then they leave our minds almost as soon as they entered, back to whatever mental file we stored them in so that they don’t bother us in our current, present, happy relationships.
But what happens when the Ex won’t stay in his or her delegated file?
What happens when evidence of the Ex turns up regularly in your life? And how do you handle it when it’s not your Ex that’s permeating your relationship, but rather, it’s theirs – your new partner’s?
Now before I proceed any further, I must state one thing very clearly: I am NOT talking about people who share children with Exes. That’s a whole different ballgame, dude.
If you have joint custody of some little juniorburgers and must therefore legally [and morally] communicate often with your former partner, then this article is not about you; however, I give you my sincerest admiration for being able to do so. All I ask is that you please excuse and indulge me whilst I continue on my way.
* I must also pause here to offer up a silent prayer of thanks that I do not have children with my ex-spouse, and am therefore spared this dilemma. Muchos gracias, Universe. *
So back to my issue...
When my former husband announced that he did indeed have a new girlfriend [duh, I know, I caught you two together, remember?], I didn’t think too much of it. I mean, we’d already agreed to be friends, and I’d been in his life for ten years, while she’d barely been in it for ten minutes. I was sure that he would always still have time for me, put me first when needed. Like, that’s the least he could do.
I got the shock of my life the day I discovered this wasn’t so. I remember him gently explaining that while a part of him would always love me, the bigger part of him loved her now and that her happiness and comfort meant more to him. And her happiness didn’t include him spending any time with me.
At first, I was angry. Like, mega pissed off. But then, I finally understood it: you can appreciate your old lovers - even still care for them - but at the end of the day, you can’t put an Ex’s wants ahead of your new partner’s needs. Because that just ain’t fair.
No one walks into a new relationship wanting a constant reminder of the former lover, the ghosts of partners past, haunting their fresh start. So I bowed out graciously, left them to it, and got myself a credit card and RACQ coverage for the next time I had car troubles.
Fast forward three years to my new relationship, and I find myself in a similar predicament, except I’m the one now haunted.
I’m the one who is squirming uncomfortably whenever the Ex calls, messages, Instagrams, or Snapchats him, which is a weekly annoyance. I'm the one who gets pissed off when I hear her voice, asking him to come to do yet another (mundane) favour for her. I mean, c'mon, how hard is it to change a lightbulb?
All of a sudden, I find myself wishing she would win a scholarship to study in Siberia…preferably, somewhere without an Internet connection.
Now, I’ve never been the jealous type; I’m pretty confident with what I’ve got and have never been fussed about ex-partners before. As I said, everyone’s got one...or ten. I don’t feel threatened by the girl in any way; after all, I’m a successful, educated, well-travelled woman with a great smile and decent rack. No probs here. And I definitely don’t worry about him cheating on me with her, which is surprising, given what I’ve previously experienced.
So why is it that I physically cringe at the very sight of her name flashing across his phone's screen?
Why is it I feel so quietly frustrated every time he goes to help her when she’s in need?
And how the fuck do I deal with it?
I guess, at the end of the day, I should be grateful that I have such a kind partner that is happy to help his friends. I should be proud of him for being a man who is chivalrous and generous with his time. And I am.
But if I’m totally honest with you, what I really wish is that she would take a pointer from every other ex-girlfriend who has gone before her - we’ve all been there at some point - and just graciously, quietly, respectfully retreat. Allow the new girlfriend a chance to be less haunted, less reminded of who used to be the girl in his life. And take her friggin' Facebook friendship with her...
It may sting like a mofo, but it’s gotta be done.
So until that ex-file can finally be closed, I will just have to keep turning my head in the other direction when I see her name, close my ears off when she calls, and seriously consider buying her a membership for roadside assistance for Christmas.
And, with all my heart, I’ll keep believing and trusting in him to always be the kind, considerate, honest man he is. Because it’s those beautiful qualities that made me fall in love with him in the first place…