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Yes, Your Ex Is Valid & So Are Your Feelings
You probably have more exes in your history than you think you do. So long as I’ve mourned a relationship’s passing, I have a valid ex in my history. It doesn’t matter if I formally dated them, if we were “just friends,” or if our relationship never had much of a label in the first place.
A relationship doesn’t even need to be romantic in order to become an ex one, either. What happened has already happened. If you’re my ex, what didn’t happen isn’t worth taking into consideration. At that point, I’m only interested in healing and making my world a better place. In relationship anarchy, all types of relationships to be valid. That includes ex-relationships. I don’t need labels or monogamy to validate that yes, I was “with” someone at some point. I, myself, validate my interactions with others based on my shared experiences with them.
Exes are a touchy subject. All it took was seeing my ex’s name on Facebook today to risk stirring my emotional pot. Fortunately, I woke up to a lovely “I love you!” message from my sister, which means much more to me than a silly birthday notification! This morning would’ve gone fine without her timely support, but what if it didn’t? The minute I saw “Ex’s Name” on Facebook, I absolutely refused to be in a bad mood. My time isn’t worth spending on any feelings of resentment that could’ve welled up if I wasn’t careful. But of course, if you asked him, he’d probably say we never went out to begin with.
My ex left me with empty words and unfulfilled plans. Sound familiar?
Us getting together would’ve felt like a dream come true. I liked him from the moment I met him during my late high school/early college years. He would’ve been one of the only crushes I’ve ever had to turn into a relationship. He made no concrete promises, but he gave me enough words to build fantastic castles in the sky that he, too, claimed to see. He told me I was perfect, that, he’d take me to Paris, and that he wanted to be with me forever. The whole time, he dumped on me about his ex-girlfriends and family issues. I thought nothing of it. After all, we were friends and that’s what friends are for, right?
Some dreams don’t come true for good reasons. Instead of acknowledging the red flags as they popped up, I learned the hard way. That’s how he became an ex in the first place.
All was well until I interrupted him with actual needs. He mansplained the entire universe to me when we hung out. He got upset when I tried to tell him about things that legitimately bothered and triggered my mental illness. Simple delays in food orders or bus schedules made him freak out. Meanwhile, it had been less than a month since I had been discharged from the hospital. I knew he wasn’t good for me, but our connection felt so right. I wanted to believe his anxiety issues were fleeting, so I let it slide. Meanwhile, I wasn’t perfect. I knew my own wishful thinking was condemning me to disappointment. But my Infatuation Goggles were on full intensity - I was blinded by my own neurochemicals and refusal to accept reality for what it was.
In the end, our “breakup” happened via text. I finally confronted him about the disproportionate emotional labor I had done for him, only to get none in return. Kisses, cuddles, and good sex don’t count as emotional labor, either. As a mentally ill person, good sex isn’t going to give me the peace of mind, stability, or security I need.
In the end, this person was my ex, though he might not call me his ex. He’d probably prefer something less severe like “friend” or “the girl I said a bunch of crap to.” He liked the fact that I wasn’t eager to grab the “girlfriend” title. I simply never understood the popular eagerness to title a relationship… until I realized why labels matter to so many people. Nobody likes feeling stuck in relationship limbo, especially when they’re grieving a relationship after the fact. I simply accept relationships as they come, but I also don’t tell just anyone I’m going to take them to Paris.
Relationship anarchy helped me understand that a relationship doesn’t need a label to “count.” People mistakenly believe that certain relationship ongoings are only valid in certain contexts. Leaving a relationship unlabeled doesn’t mean everything that was said and done somehow matters less. I accept words and actions at face value. But once I see a disparity between one’s words and actions, I become suspicious.
I get it now. I was a bad relationship anarchist. He felt like taking me to Paris at the time, so he told me so. He felt like I was perfect at the time, so he said so. He told me he wanted to move far away, and I guessed it would be with the ex-girlfriend he complained about so much. The intensity of our interactions made me feel like we were already a “real” couple. But nonetheless, we weren’t, and now, he’s my ex.
In my opinion, a relationship is a relationship, regardless of what you call it. My reality is better off without someone who doesn’t want me. These nice memories of us “together” consist of all the nice things he talked about doing with me. If all someone can offer me is hope, then what are they actually giving me?
Nothing, because I can give myself hope. I can also find fulfillment in myself. That’s why I don’t mind turning relationships into exes. Every ex I have is an opportunity to grow into a better person. I’d rather accept the reality of a relationship for what it is than be upset over what it wasn’t.