If You Regret Your Ex Boyfriend, You’re Wrong

There are a lot of red flags to look out for when meeting a guy for the first time. Does he open the door for you? Did he pay for your tequila sunrise? Does he keep having Tinder notifications pop up on his cell phone (which is sitting on the dinner table)?

Another thing you should look out for which isn’t always so obvious? His relationship with his ex.

While it might be unsettling if they’re friends, it shows signs of maturity. If he goes on and on about how “crazy” his ex is or how they can’t be in the same room with each other? You might love this. You might want to think that you’re going to be the best thing in his life compared to all the b*tches he dated before. But you’re wrong. His exes probably weren’t crazy, or ugly, or whatever else he says. He probably just isn’t emotionally mature enough to accept his past relationships and how they turned out.

But…how about you? If someone asks you about your ex boyfriend, what do you say? Do you have to stifle back tears while Katy Perry’s ‘The One That Got Away’ plays in your head? Do you smile and reminisce on how he’s a great guy, but things didn’t work? Or, are you that girl who screams “F*ck my ex!” while taking a fifth shot of tequila at your favorite dive bar?

Not that it’s wrong to drown memories of your ex with potent alcoholic beverages (I mean, c’mon, we all do it). But it is wrong to try to act like you never loved (or even liked) your ex. What are we…twelve? If you can’t accept your past decisions, can you really expect anyone else to? We all love to say how people shouldn’t judge us on our past, but maybe in reality you’re the one judging yourself. Sure, you may look back on your first boyfriend and wonder how you ever found braces and gelled dip-dyed hair attractive, but that’s a completely different story and a completely different time.

While you and your ex may have crashed and burned pretty horrifically, it doesn’t mean that the relationship was bad. At best, the relationship was what you wanted at the time, even if you now find that hard to believe. At worst? You learned from it.

I know that it’s easy to say that every bad choice in your life was “an experience to learn from.” But the majority of the time this is true, especially with relationships. Let’s think of the worst situation possible; that you find out your boyfriend is cheating on you. Of course, it’s horrible, and you might have trust issues in future relationships. But what are you never going to be again? Naive. The next time you’re going to give your heart away, you’re going to be cautious and make sure you’re making yourself vulnerable to someone who will take care of you.

Sometimes, it’s not that our ex has done something bad to us. Maybe it’s that they put us in our place and we’re not ready to admit it. Maybe your last boyfriend really broke your heart, and it’s easier to pretend you hate him than to accept that you’re still not fully over it. Maybe he taught you something about yourself that you’re not sure you ever wanted to know, a flaw that you never accepted in yourself.

Our lovers are the people who we allow deeper inside of us than anyone else, most of the time even more than our closest friends. When letting someone in backfires and turns into someone that we hardly even know, it can be heart-wrenching and we don’t want to accept it. It’s easy to say that the relationship was a “waste of time” or that we didn’t know what we were thinking, but in retrospect you know that’s not true.

By accepting that your exes were not mistakes, you’re setting yourself up to have better relationships in the future. Instead of stubbornly clinging on to ideas of hatred or regret, you’re opening up yourself to change and responsibility for why certain relationships didn’t work out. While thoughts of your ex may still be painful (or angering), sometimes looking back can open our eyes to something that we never saw before. And if we learn from our mistakes, we can not only increase our chances of finding a relationship that does work, but we can also save ourselves the trouble of having to say “my ex” (with or without an eye-roll) ever again.

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