Why is it that as a culture we believe that the best thing a woman or a man can do after being broken up with or breaking up with someone is to kick them to the curb and never think about them again?
Why are we obsessed with the idea of writing people off so quickly? Of letting go of feelings for others because something did not work out?
Why is that I have actually heard people joyously say things like, “I am so glad I don’t love that person anymore. I was so weak back then when I cared. They mean nothing to me now.”
Look, men and women who say this — I get it. I definitely understand. A lot of my friends have said this about their exes, and I have too. I do realize that for the most part breakups are messy and there are plenty of relationships that don’t end amicably. Most of the time they end in tears and fights and maybe even a revelation that someone has been unfaithful. In that case the last thing that you want to do is admit that you still love the person who royally screwed you over, because you want to muster all the self-respect you can.
But if those things aren’t all true, if you don’t have a real reason to hate your ex – or if enough time has passed so that you no longer hate them – why is still loving your ex the worst thing you can do if you actually do love and care about them?
I love my ex, and I find absolutely nothing wrong with that.
And that’s because we didn’t always end amicably. Far from it. But we also have had ten years of a relationship that consisted of a best friendship, a romantic relationship, a break, another romantic relationship, a break again, and then a friendship that is more precious to me than anything. We’ve been through it all… whatever you can think of we have encountered it together.
He was my first kiss, he was the first person I said I love you to, and he was and still continues to be an influential figure in my life, as I am in his.
So why is it that I am forced by society to silence that I care for someone who was – or rather is – that important to me?
I think it’s because somewhere along the way all of us Millennials bought into the script that having feelings (even if they are not romantic anymore) means that we have more to lose. Saying we care about someone means that we are vulnerable and not independent like all those lists tell us to be when we are newly single. Saying we love partners from our past means that we have not “moved on” yet or will never move on.
Because when I say I love him, I say I appreciate the person he has changed into and I value our commitment to always be there for each other because we were once there for each other before.
Again, proclaiming you hate your ex is not something to be proud of. Being resilient if they truly were not a good person in your life is another thing altogether. If they were physically or emotionally abusive or were toxic to your happiness then perhaps caring about you ex-partner is just adding to that toxicity.
But when you hate your ex for the simple act of hating them because they are your ex, because you want to “win” the breakup, what you really end up doing is losing. Because in stifling the love and compassion you find yourself experiencing you deny yourself the possibilities of a new person to communicate with. You deny yourself the ability to care about someone you once loved. You deny yourself the ability to grow up and be an adult.
Maybe love might be too strong of a word in reference to an old relationship, perhaps in the narrow minded way our culture perceives the word as only romantic it makes people feel uncomfortable. Maybe companionship or strongly respecting and caring is something more along the right lines.
Whatever word it is it comes back to the idea of realizing that someone who was once so important to you, someone that at one point knew you emotionally and physically better than anyone else, is still special to you. And guess what? That’s ok.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently if there are no ulterior motives to expressing that love. If you are denying your real feelings for the sake of some stupid “game” you are allowing yourself to be stripped away of something not valued enough anymore – a connection.