A recent conversation with my current love spurred emotions and thoughts within me that I felt were difficult to share with her.
For months I had been trying to avoid a particular conversation that I knew would inevitably come up. I was not avoiding it intentionally, or dodging the inevitability of this conversation, but I was concerned how she might feel and react when it finally did arrive.
Recently, my current love and I somehow got on the subject of my ex-girlfriend. For months this had been avoided, but I could tell right away it made her feel uncomfortable. I was honest about my past and the fact that I have a high level of respect for my ex, for making me a better person and opening my eyes to things I never would have seen on my own.
Although I no longer have romantic feelings for my ex-girlfriend, she was a big part of my growth during a transitional period in my life. She was a big reason I am who I am today. I recognized it was making my current partner uncomfortable to speak about her, so I quickly wrapped up the discussion, trying my best to not seem defensive.
I don’t speak about my exes often. In fact, I usually try to avoid speaking about any ex-girlfriends out of respect for my current girlfriend and for my exes. Only when the issue is brought up by someone else will I speak about a previous relationship—and that goes double if the relationship contained a deep love.
What bothered me was that she was upset when I finally broke down and offered up information about one particular ex of mine. It was certainly not my intent to make her feel insecure.
To truly love me, one has to accept that I have been impacted and changed by people I’ve connected with intimately, before our own current, intimate connection can blossom.
My partner, on the other hand, is a bit more open and speaks with more frequency about her ex-boyfriend and certain incidents that happened and issues that they had. They spent over a year together, and I have heard many details of how they were not right for each other.
She has also offered up other stories about previous relationships she has been in from time to time. I have been a bit more accepting of hearing her stories and do not give off any indication to her that I am uncomfortable with her speaking about her past.
I am typically not an overly-jealous type, and I try to be mindful and respectful, because by listening to her past experiences, I am learning more and more about her.
I am certainly no saint, and I try my best not to judge her exes based off the stories she tells me about them, but I am human. I have my opinions. However I keep them close to my heart, so as to not offend her or disrespect any past decision she made on who she spent time with.
I also recognize that I am getting only the pieces of the story that she chooses to share with me. So there may be some grand moments she leaves out, because she wants to focus on our own relationship and not re-live experiences with past lovers who are no longer in her life.
This, I do appreciate—because I am of the same mindset.
We live in the present, and while our past actions help mold who we are, we are not defined by them—and we should not be judged or looked down upon because of our past actions with our exes.
The past is the past, and it can’t be changed.
If we truly love the one we are with today, then we must accept and respect the journey which brought them to us.
We should have the ability to begin our own beautiful connection, free of the ghosts or memories of our past.
They don’t have to like it—just as I don’t have to like the stories I hear about their exes—but I will extend my courtesy and respect to my current partner for being open, honest and brave enough to share her past with me.
I will always listen with an open, non-judgmental mind any time she feels the desire to bring up any aspect of her past romances. In part, I also do it because I truly love her. Love fits into this equation.
I am who I am today in large part because of a few great lovers I have been with.
To truly love me means one must appreciate the connections I’ve made in the past and understand that I would not be who I am today without those relationships and experiences.
Our partners should not feel jealous or insecure. It should be a mutual understanding that we have been loved, we have been touched, we have been moved, and we have learned from others who helped make us the special person standing before them today.
To love me means you understand everything I’ve been through and everything I’ve learned during my life before fate brought you to me.
We can create our own beautiful moments together—and even surpass previous interactions if our love is strong enough, and we are willing to be mindful, understanding and have respect for those past lovers who helped make us who we are today.
We don’t have to like our partners exes, but if we truly love our partner—and our partner values and still has respect for their ex—then we should at least try for their sake.
Author: Adam Wilkinson
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Guian Bolisay