If you live long enough, you will have an ex or several exes of some sort, whether that be a significant other or a spouse. Once someone becomes part of your past, many times the thought of them lingers. You wonder if the relationship could’ve been saved, if there was more you could’ve done, or if you went back things could have been better. Those are just three of the 103 questions I asked myself over the years as my 20 plus year marriage receded in the rearview mirror of my life. You’ll find yourself remembering the good times, how wonderful love was when it was new, and how much you care for them. You tend to set the bad memories aside and dwell on the warm, fuzzy ones. The nights of crying just don’t fit into the narrative you want. But really, are you still in love with your ex, or are you in love with the person you wanted your ex to be? I’m so glad you asked!
Was It Really That Good?
To romanticize something or someone means ‘to make more appealing than it really is.’ Viewing our exes in an idealized way is exactly what I and many others do after a relationship ends. Think about this…it’s easier to love someone when they’re not there to annoy you. Every time you take a walk down memory lane, you tend to mold the past into what you maybe wanted, and not recall what it actually was.
Seeking the ‘Fix’ of Your Ex
There are as many studies on the subject of love as any topic out there. Research has shown that people in love show symptoms of drug addiction like euphoria, as well as both emotional and physical dependence. The feel-good chemicals that are released when you’re falling in love are addictive. Even when a relationship is over, we are chasing that ‘fix.’ In a way, the end of romantic love can mimic the withdrawal from a drug. Revisiting the good times with your ex is like getting your fix in a very low dosage. Going cold turkey is easier said than done.
You’re Breaking Your Heart Over and Over
So what’s the harm in romanticizing your ex? For one, those warm fuzzies make it harder to move on. Your judgment becomes clouded…but your ex is your ex for a reason, probably many reasons. Thinking on the good times will make you miss them even more, even maybe fool you into getting back together. One way to keep those false memories at bay is to live in the moment. Hanging on to the past has a bad habit of destroying your future.
Did You Like Who You Were Then or Now?
When I think back now, I really don’t know who I was with my ex. Sure it was me, but many times I feel like I was observing my life then, not living it. I wanted to make his life perfect because that was my job, but that put me in many roles like maid, gardener, and pleaser. I put up with a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t now. Back then, I never stood up for myself, and I got hurt almost every day. Today, I am healthy mentally and know my worth and value, which is more than my ex could afford. He wanted a doormat, and I’m not that anymore.
If you find it difficult to stop before you embark down memory lane, take a breath, and really remember what your ex was like, good and bad. One day, although it may take some time, perhaps years like it did me, you will pack up those memories and say goodbye and look to your future open to all the possibilities.