On Being A Great Ex-Boyfriend
There is no shame in having loved and lost. All of my relationships, from grade school to adulthood have ended, but with those ends, I never let the weight of bitterness drag me down. For the most part, I remain a man with a positive disposition, who looks at his past relationships as a collection of quality memories. I have not only learned how to move forward, I have become an expert at doing so.
This is not to glorify the failures of my past relationships, because it has never been my intention to fail in the first place. With every new relationship, I subscribe to the Alexander Pope school of thought: “Hope springs eternal.” So when I put on my boyfriend hat and it’s time for me to be a woman’s man, I give it my best shot; love as hard as I can and pull out all the stops to make her the happiest she’s ever been.
Sounds like a winning attitude, right?
Yeah, well too bad attitudes don’t win.
In relationships, I don’t know what counts as a win and what counts as a loss, but I do know I have lost every relationship I have ever been in. But there will be no ‘woe-is-me’ing in this post, because through the years of break-ups, I have developed an uncanny ability at being a great ex-boyfriend, which counts for a lot more than some would lead you to believe.
If we buy the theory that in life, there is one person for us all, and only one person, then we must deal with the reality that in our efforts to find the one, we’re going to get it wrong more than we get it right. So when I say being a good ex-boyfriend is important, it’s because we will find ourselves being someone’s ex more than someone’s one and I don’t want to be like so many others who fail to play their position.
When I was in my previous relationship, my ex-girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend called her more times than any one person should and at all kinds of inappropriate hours. Eventually, she had to check him, but since they lived so far away from one another, it was difficult for her to maintain order without doing something as drastic as changing her number. Prior to my ex, there were many other women I dated who always seemed to have some guy from their past, usually an ex-boyfriend, lurking in the shadows, trying to hang around long enough for an opportunity to present itself. As though my screwing-up would help their case.
How sad. How laughable.
It’s both — sad and laughable — because in all my years of dating and breaking-up, I have never seen a woman leave me only to get back with her ex-boyfriend, and I have done a lot of dating and a lot of breaking up. Even more shocking is how in the months after my break-up with my ex-girlfriend so many people suggested I try to get back with her, as though I could snap my fingers and make it happen or I could wear her down. They thought if I was apologetic enough and realized the mistakes I made, then maybe she will give me another shot.
I thought, That only happens in movies.
Besides, it took about four months for me to really comprehend my loss, to understand this break-up was going to be a lot harder than the others I had to endure, and by that time, it was too late for me to try and get back in the picture. She moved on. She had a new man, and for the record, it wasn’t her ex. Still, people said if I really wanted to be back with her, I would at least take a shot, in spite of her man. Infiltrate the good thing she had if I knew for sure I had something better to offer.
It was a convincing argument, and in my head, a romantic idea, but the thing that kept me from going to such lengths was remembering how I felt and how my ex-girlfriend felt when her ex-boyfriend would always call when we were together. I didn’t want to be like him or any other ex-boyfriend I saw who didn’t understand how to keep it moving. Besides, I lost a lot of sleep over how much I screwed things up with her, so in many ways, keeping my distance, not ending up like the sad case that was her ex before me, was sometimes the only thing that helped me sleep at night.
Of course I don’t like the fact that in all my relationships, I have somehow come up short; don’t like to look back and see a bunch of false starts, but what can I do? There is something to be said for a person who can move on and let their past relationships harden in their own personal hall of history. My time with a lot of women may have been short, and in that short amount of time I had with them, I may have messed up. But life? Life is long, and if I couldn’t be good to a woman long enough to spend the rest of my life with her, I can at least be good to a woman for the rest of our life apart.