My boyfriend once jokingly said to me that when he dates a woman, her life begins the moment he meets her. It came up when I was telling a somewhat trivial story about my past, so naturally, I did not take his comment lightly. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking — could this idea actually be beneficial to a relationship?
Let me clarify by saying that no, I do not mean we should stop caring about the achievements, excitements, or hardships that our significant others experienced before we came into the picture. That would be ridiculous. We are all shaped by our own pasts, after all, and we learn to appreciate one another for the things we have sought to embrace or overcome. I’m thinking more along the lines of things that should not matter but do; things I, as a helplessly obsessive and sometimes jealous person, tend to brood over unnecessarily. I am referring to past relationships, sexual experiences, and emotional afflictions of any kind that really, truly have nothing to do with our present-tense relationships, yet can act as the foundation upon which we view ourselves within them.
I’m sure I speak for many people, men as well as women, when I say that our significant other’s ex is emotional baggage we carry ourselves. They dropped it a long time ago, and maybe we make it seem like we have, too, but really it is always lurking, threatening to weigh us down and crush our confidence. In reality, we know our significant other’s exes do not matter, for now they are just a compilation of memories (or, they should be). But it’s hard for us to see it that way when we are giving so much of ourselves, emotionally, to them, and realizing that they’ve been in this place, with another person, before. Of course, it is not their fault. They didn’t know you then, our common sense tells us. How can you be upset about that?
It is a mystery, but it is the truth: they did not know us then. They did not know us, and they were probably different from the people we know so well today, too. Remember that we, as humans, are supposed to adapt to our situations, and in my opinion, falling in love — especially for the first time — is a very drastic, life-changing one. I think it is so easy for us to split our lives into two “before” and “after” parts where our relationship is concerned, so why can’t we do that for the person we are with—the person we love? We should start viewing our significant others’ exes as inhabitants that belong to another life, because there, they can’t hurt us, can’t break us down. Yes, those other relationships lived and thrived for a time, but they are dead now. In this life, he chose us, and that is all that matters—all that exists—now.
Relationships are about accepting the one you’re with for all that he or she is. That means accepting the fact that your significant other once had a partner, a lover, or a friend-with-benefits that was not you — basically, a life that you did not belong in. The important thing to remember is that this life, the life you are living now with the one you love, is happening, and it is happening because that person chose you.