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On Being A Great Ex-Boyfriend

November 18th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

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.

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  • Skye Blue

    Well written post, with a noble sentiment.
    Wish more exes (both male and female) were like you.

    Loved it!

  • BoomShots

    My two decades of dating experience has thought me that the ending of a past relationship is only a mess up if you fail to gain any insight in who you are as a partner and the attributes of the person best suited for you. We all start off the journey with an ideal of whom we think we will be in a relationship and who we think we should be with. Then reality intervenes.

    Some lost past relationships can be attributed to our ignorance, ego or some other failing that hopefully we won’t spend a lifetime regretting. Others are probably the other person’s fault or a combination of both. Starting, nurturing and maintaining a succesful intimate relationship is hardwork and a lifetime effort and it does not come with instructions.

    I will admit that most of my past relationships are so because I had way too many options. So when push came to shove I chose to walk away rather than fight. Definitely not my proudest moments but the benefit is that I now have a better understanding of who I am as a man and what my strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to maintaining a relationship.

    Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

  • afroinstilettos

    so you are a great ex boyfriend because once the relationship is over, it’s over & you don’t “lurk in the shadows” like her previous ex boyfriends did? interesting…

  • Mari

    Love your blog…Always relevent post. You may write for yourself but it definitely speaks to what the rest of us are going through too. XOXO

  • Teach It

    Does these “relationships” include the two week stints as well? or is there a minimum time that you have to put in before you are a “bad” ex boyfriend?

  • RaShonda

    Great post! I love your positive spin on the situation. Things happen for a reason and there’s a reason you and your former girlfriends broke up. I truly believe in the saying “Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”

  • BoomShots

    Just curious but since you seem to can’t let that go, I have to ask:
    Were you one of his “two week stints”?

    Because if she is Joz, you are in trouble big dawg!!

  • b.collins

    Is there a reason you can’t seem to let the 2-week relationship blog go? I agree with Boomshots…were you one of those 2-weekers(would be amazing entertainment btw)? If so, why don’t you just pick up the phone and call and ask why it didn’t work out? It just strikes me interesting is all. You seem to respond a lot, so I’m assuming you like to visit the site quite a bit, but it seems you always have something contrary or argumentative to say. It’s a free world, for the most part, so you have every right, but I’m just curious why you come to the blog if you don’t seem to like it very much?

  • Teach It

    No, dear. It’s really not that deep. I simply follow what he actually writes. What is there to “let go”? It’s a public forum and I choose to comment and refer to previous post. There, there…all better now?

  • Teach It

    I have no reason to argue on a blog. People have their various takes and opinions. The author posts and I sometimes reply to the entries. Please realize that liking this blog does not equate to me having to comment in any particular way, positive or negative.

    Also, your response is rather juvenile. Why would I call the author? Better yet, why would you ASSume that I was even involved with him? My comments are simply my opinions, nothing more and nothing less.

  • b. collins

    You sounded really hung up on the two week thing so I (and boomshot apparently) thought you were involved w/ him for 2 weeks. Don’t take it so seriously:) I think it was all in jest. What I was serious about is why you visit a blog that you don’t seem to like, but judging from your responde to me, I see why:)

  • Cicely

    Another great sign of maturity. As with any “failure,” what we do afterwards is the true test. Now, with that, if you truly believe someone is your soulmate, there’s nothing wrong with letting them know you feel that way (maybe in a letter or a phone call at a decent hour). After you make your feelings known, though, and the ex doesn’t reciprocate…then, you really need to move on!

  • K.Ova

    Great post. It took me a while to learn what you’ve written abt here. Not the calling and shit – but the moving on and knowing that each ended relationship is just another mile in reaching the destination.

  • Leah

    I adore this post.

    I don’t believe in “The One,” but “The Few,” and they are far between and it is often a long journey to find them. I firmly believe that there are lessons to be learned from every “failed” relationship that will prep you for the one(s) right for you.

  • GuessWho

    Good points and wish most people would think that way. Some Ex’s (boyfriend/girlfriend) don’t know how to let go and move on. They still think if they make contact with the person as if they are still together then they have a good shot at getting back in. In their minds they are making their presence known so their ex (your current) can know they still have a shot.

    Problem with that is, you’re an Ex for a reason…Kuddos to you for not wanting to be ‘That Ex’ who doesn’t know how to let go.

  • Leah J

    That was me. Forgot to add the initial at home.

    *co-signs self*

  • Sunni B

    If homegirl was one of his two-weekers…so, what?! I would trade him for a few of the two-weekers I had! BTW….good post!

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  • cleanslate2010

    great post! i’m tempted to send it to an ex-boyfriend of mine. he has ended our relationship (more than once, and i’m not blaming it all on him since I DID take him back!) and likes to re-appear all the time. it is always under the guise of ‘being a good friend’, but what i’ve tried to make him understand is that the best thing he could do for me is give me space and let me move on.