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The ex popped up again


DaniArizona
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Several years ago I first came to this site because of a devastating break up. Here is the very first post I’ve made on here:

 

https://www.enotalone.com/forum/showthread.php?t=397817

 

Now, almost 10 years later, this ex has come back into my life after years of growth, self reflection and self positivity. I’ve moved on. I’m in what is probably the most healthy relationship I’ve ever been in... but, well, I guess I’ll just copy/ paste what I had posted on a different advice site... of course for a complete history of my complete heart break when X and I first broke up you can view my first post for a clearer picture (not to confuse things but I referred to my ex as “C” in my first post on here. The below refers to him as “X” and my current bf as “C” - for current:

 

I won’t go into the agonizing long story that was me and my ex but long story short, we met when I was 23 and recently out of an abusive relationship. He was 33 and showed me what it was like to be treated with love and respect from an SO. We got engaged. Our relationship moved fast and passionately. Both of us lost a parent in that time, he was still going through the motions of divorce, child visitation, etc and after almost 2 years we broke up very suddenly due to both our faults, outside circumstances and a lot of stress. The day after we broke up he moved back to his home state. We spoke off and on for about 6 months after, but it was toxic for us to do so and we dropped contact for about 5 years.

 

In those 5 years, I never got over him. Every relationship I compared to the one I had with him, ultimately sabotaging any prospect for a fulfilling future with that person.

 

One day, when I was living with my most recent ex (I’ll call R), he sent me a friend request on social media. I accepted. We kept it pleasant with “hi, how are you”’s and kept it basically at that. I felt like at this point I was strong enough to move past my feelings for him and concentrate on the relationship I was in. Ex fiancé (who I will call X) had a girlfriend, which didn’t send me into any sort of crazy fits of jealousy like I thought it would so I figured I really did move on.

 

3 years ago I got out of the relationship I was in at that time (completely unrelated to X) and soon after met C (current boyfriend). I had never had such strong feelings for another person since X until I met C. C and I are great partners. We tackle issues head on, but sometimes I would notice myself wishing our relationship was as passionate as it was with X. Don’t get me wrong, despite many ups and downs C and I have had, we always work things out, even when we reached what we thought was a point of no return at one point in our relationship - I won’t go into detail, mostly just lack of communication that escalated over time.

 

Over the course of the 5 years X and I have been fb friends, it’s obvious he is just looking to make enough money to pay bills and have fun. Him and the gf eventually broke up, he is still living a lifestyle that would be acceptable for someone in their 20’s, but maybe not a 43 year old father of 3 (although now his kids are adults).

 

Before I got with C, I confided in my best friends that I did believe X and I would end up back together when I was 40 and he was 50 when we were in better places with our lives. I had also confessed this to X during a drunken conversation we had while I was getting over my breakup with R, before meeting C.

 

Last week was my birthday and I went to visit my family in a different state. X messaged me to wish me a happy birthday and to tell my family he said hello. From there, he texted daily to tell me how much he misses me, how much he thinks about me and always had. I told him I am happy in my current relationship and I did not feel that he (X) was in a place in his life that I could consider being relationship potential. He agreed and reminded me that I had said I see us getting together in our next decade of life. He said “I have less then ten years to get my life together and now I have motivation. Maybe I can get it done in 5!”

 

Now let me preface my next sentence by saying that I would never cheat on C. I would never leave C for anyone else. But... the feeling of happiness and warmth I felt from X saying those things a couple of days ago is so strong and I feel so guilty. I’m back home with C now and just going over the conversation with X in my head keeps tearing me apart. Not because I fueled that conversation, but because it made me happy to hear that from “the one that got away”. I thought I was over him but now I’m second guessing.

 

I need advise.... what should I do? I don’t want to block X because he is still someone who was there during one of the hardest times of my life, and someone who showed me that it’s okay to have standards for myself in a relationship. But I also feel like I’m completely disrespecting C by remaining friendly with X.

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But I also feel like I’m completely disrespecting C by remaining friendly with X.

 

This, really, is all that matters. Would you want C to do anything that he felt was completely disrespectful of you? Do you think him making a conscious choice to do something he felt was completely disrespectful would be good for your relationship? If the answer to those questions is "no" then I think you know what you need to do, which is to stop engaging with X. Whether that means blocking him, not responding for a bit, or respectfully letting him know you're backing away to continue exploring C—well, that's up to you.

 

It's all hard, I get it. A lot of us have an X or two in our lives: a fiery, formative connection that didn't quite work but that we break our brains in blowing up into a story of how one day, some day the stars might align. That story becomes a kind of salve to our loss, though the risk of making it the salve is that we struggle to fully let go and move on. There are a lot of books and movies out there that make such stories soothing to tell, when, odds are, they're often pretty destructive, preventing us from living fully in the present because we've got one toe stuck in an idealized past and another in an idealized future.

 

Much as you say you're over X, I think you've been playing with fire, in an understandably human way, since you reconnected on social media. He was still kind of your North Star in romance at that point—the place your mind wandered when you were a bit lost and lonesome, the one that coulda, shoulda been, etc.—and reengaging kind of enhanced that story just as it was fading. Sure, you were cordial, not jealous and emotional, but you enjoyed the contact in a manner that wasn't purely platonic. You turned to that spark for some warmth during cold stretches, you could say. Today that spark is starting to burn a bit, as happens when we play with fire.

 

I can't help but get the feeling that you're not getting quite enough of what you want from romance with your romance with C. That's okay, that's human. But the thing to do is to use this moment as a sign from the universe that your relationship needs some attention, so whether it ultimately works or doesn't you know you're making that decision based on reality, not fantasies about another, and that you made it while being respectful—of C, of yourself, and of reality.

 

Because X? He really sounds like a fantasy at this point: a guy you connected with at 23 who didn't really work for you then and who, per your own description, isn't exactly partnership material today. The power he has over you is generated far more by a story in your head than it is by any kind of connection, since you haven't really been connected in over a decade. And, hey, should those cinematic stars end up aligning, odds are you're not going to want the foundation of that chapter to be formed in the shade, you know?

Edited by bluecastle
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Wow... this is by far the most eye opening, enlightening and REALEST response I could have ever hoped for.

 

Thank you so much. That just put so many of my jumbled thoughts into actual words...

 

If you ever get into the business of becoming a therapist keep me in mind.

 

Seriously though, thank you.

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I told him I am happy in my current relationship and I did not feel that he (X) was in a place in his life that I could consider being relationship potential. He agreed and reminded me that I had said I see us getting together in our next decade of life. He said “I have less then ten years to get my life together and now I have motivation. Maybe I can get it done in 5!”

 

When an ex can't be a fan of your present relationship, and is discussing romantic things between you two, then yes, you are totally crossing relationship boundaries. How would you like it if your bf was speaking to an ex with topics like this?

 

You are fooling yourself that you should keep your ex in your life because he was there for you during tough times in the past. That's BS. You're also being selfish, wanting the excitement of someone you had chemistry with paying attention to you.

 

What does an emotionally mature faithful person do? She tells an ex it's not good for her present relationship to be communicating, so that will have to stop, immediately. And then she would pour her emotional energy and time into keeping a spark with her bf. If all of that failed, she would break that relationship off before starting a new one.

 

Sometimes we have to do difficult things in life because it's the right thing to do. Otherwise, it's called being self-centered, having an emotional affair, and being selfish.

 

His saying he has 10 years to get his life together means he doesn't think he's worthy of being a good partner at this time. If it hasn't happened by this stage of his life, what makes you think he'll make a major change now? And do you really think a decent man speaks to a "taken" woman like this?

 

It seems you two are a lot alike in this area, thinking frivolous, shallow, fun flirtations done in secret are what a person should value in life instead of a mature, longterm, loving relationship where people are faithful and make their partner the sole recipient of their romantic interactions.

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I told him I am happy in my current relationship and I did not feel that he (X) was in a place in his life that I could consider being relationship potential. He agreed and reminded me that I had said I see us getting together in our next decade of life. He said “I have less then ten years to get my life together and now I have motivation. Maybe I can get it done in 5!”

 

When an ex can't be a fan of your present relationship, and is discussing romantic things between you two, then yes, you are totally crossing relationship boundaries. How would you like it if your bf was speaking to an ex with topics like this?

 

You are fooling yourself that you should keep your ex in your life because he was there for you during tough times in the past. That's BS. You're also being selfish, wanting the excitement of someone you had chemistry with paying attention to you.

 

What does an emotionally mature faithful person do? She tells an ex it's not good for her present relationship to be communicating, so that will have to stop, immediately. And then she would pour her emotional energy and time into keeping a spark with her bf. If all of that failed, she would break that relationship off before starting a new one.

 

Sometimes we have to do difficult things in life because it's the right thing to do. Otherwise, it's called being self-centered, having an emotional affair, and being selfish.

 

His saying he has 10 years to get his life together means he doesn't think he's worthy of being a good partner at this time. If it hasn't happened by this stage of his life, what makes you think he'll make a major change now? And do you really think a decent man speaks to a "taken" woman like this?

 

It seems you two are a lot alike in this area, thinking frivolous, shallow, fun flirtations done in secret are what a person should value in life instead of a mature, longterm, loving relationship where people are faithful and make their partner the sole recipient of their romantic interactions.

 

Harsh... and needed. Thank you. I didn’t look at it as emotional cheating but I suppose that’s exactly what it is. I feel really gross now for allowing that.

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To add: I just read your initial post about him. Whoa.

 

This guy is a wreck of a man who cheated on his wife with you, who cheated on you with a friend of yours, and up and left you in the dust in a pretty scalding manner. He's handsome, charming, the sex was astounding, the bond of grieving together while drinking too much is powerful, and it was all kind of crazy and perfectly complimented you during a very crazy period in your own journey—I get it. But I think you're still struggling to see the whole thing clearly—wanting that chapter, and by extension X, to mean more than it did.

 

I've gotten twisted around by some destructive types, and I've twisted some people around during destructive times in my own life. I know that heat very well. Still, it's important to own those chapters for what they are, and in the process de-mythologize them, rather than building them up into myths that make living in the present challenging and keep you susceptible for mistaking a certain set of emotional sensations (lust, self-annihilation, guilt, etc.) for others (passion, connection, love, and so forth).

 

Bottom line: X showed you at 23, in stark terms, that he has nothing positive to offer you. Social media has shown you that he has done little evolution since then. His flirty, whimsical notes to you are further evidence that he is a man with no respect for romantic boundaries, who puts his own pleasure first at the expense of others.

 

And you're struggling to block him why, exactly?

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I read your 2011 thread and this post here. You're trying to have your cake and eat it too and it'll cause more issues for you in the long run. Your conscience is already not at peace. If you are always this confused about your relationships, being single might not be a bad idea. This may also be an indicator that C (2019 thread C) might not be as good of a fit for you as you might have first thought.

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I actually feel like often we pine for our ex because they're unattainable and we hadn't been with them for a long time, so we've forgotten their flaws and what didn't work in the relationship in the first place. I actually tend to do this as well where I stay friends with some ex's or FWB's (not many) and when I see them I start feeling like I have a crush on them again and they're so great blah, blah, blah. I'm engaged so I think some of it is that excitement to feel a crush because I can't have them and they can't have me.

 

Also naturally we stop seeing ex's much/stop talking to them much so whatever faults or issues they had are not as evident anymore. They probably seem "perfect" because we're having minimal contact with them and only seeing them from a distance.

 

I think that relationships don't work out for a reason. Sure some people can get back together with an ex, but in your case it's actually been ten years. I'm sure a lot has changed and you've grown as a person from the age of 23 to 33. Your ex has probably changed in some ways too. Even if you got back together you may find that it's not the same. He also could just be chasing you because he's alone now and you're the one that's unattainable.

 

Not to mention of course you are already in a serious relationship. I would recommend cutting down the contact with your ex to a minimum or not interacting with him all together because it's interfering with your feelings and the relationship you're already in.

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I wouldn't feel too guilty. You know what X is all about...not relationship material. I think this experience just made you realize how much you appreciate what you have with C, and even an ex like X won't change that. Clear your head, and move on from X, make him a memory.

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Of course the X popped up again - you keep giving him reason to. He'll keep popping up until you give him no reason to.

He knows how to push your buttons and you LET HIM do it - so it'll continue as long as you both are willing to play this game.

 

So.. cut him off. You and X are going nowhere - that's why you're ex's and have remained it.

it's so easy to get greedy and "look a gift horse in the mouth" - but it's foolish to.

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To add: I just read your initial post about him. Whoa.

 

This guy is a wreck of a man who cheated on his wife with you, who cheated on you with a friend of yours, and up and left you in the dust in a pretty scalding manner. He's handsome, charming, the sex was astounding, the bond of grieving together while drinking too much is powerful, and it was all kind of crazy and perfectly complimented you during a very crazy period in your own journey—I get it. But I think you're still struggling to see the whole thing clearly—wanting that chapter, and by extension X, to mean more than it did.

 

I've gotten twisted around by some destructive types, and I've twisted some people around during destructive times in my own life. I know that heat very well. Still, it's important to own those chapters for what they are, and in the process de-mythologize them, rather than building them up into myths that make living in the present challenging and keep you susceptible for mistaking a certain set of emotional sensations (lust, self-annihilation, guilt, etc.) for others (passion, connection, love, and so forth).

 

Bottom line: X showed you at 23, in stark terms, that he has nothing positive to offer you. Social media has shown you that he has done little evolution since then. His flirty, whimsical notes to you are further evidence that he is a man with no respect for romantic boundaries, who puts his own pleasure first at the expense of others.

 

And you're struggling to block him why, exactly?

 

I actually didn’t read my original posts before posting this thread today.

 

I’m at a loss for words. I feel so incredibly silly to have forgotten how dark the actual breakup was and how mean he was during it.

 

The woman I am now, hard working, career driven, and most importantly, sober, would never allow something so awful to overwhelm my entire process of living. I wish I could go back and shake the naive girl who wrote that!

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I actually didn’t read my original posts before posting this thread today.

 

I’m at a loss for words. I feel so incredibly silly to have forgotten how dark the actual breakup was and how mean he was during it.

 

The woman I am now, hard working, career driven, and most importantly, sober, would never allow something so awful to overwhelm my entire process of living. I wish I could go back and shake the naive girl who wrote that!

 

Hah don't we all sista! Obsessed over a few stupidly myself.

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Instead of shaking that naive girl I'd suggest taking a deep breath right now, forgiving yourself for being a human being, give the sober, hard-working woman you are today a hug, and then go give C a hug. Not a performative, guilt-induced hug, but just a small display of love and appreciation to remind yourself of what is big in your present.

 

I'm a big believer that one of the ways we grow and get stronger is to always remember that we are more fragile than we know. This is just a small moment reminding you of that, so you can be good to yourself and, by extension, good to others.

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Instead of shaking that naive girl I'd suggest taking a deep breath right now, forgiving yourself for being a human being, give the sober, hard-working woman you are today a hug, and then go give C a hug. Not a performative, guilt-induced hug, but just a small display of love and appreciation to remind yourself of what is big in your present.

 

I'm a big believer that one of the ways we grow and get stronger is to always remember that we are more fragile than we know. This is just a small moment reminding you of that, so you can be good to yourself and, by extension, good to others.

 

I love this so much. Thank you :)

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Update: I decided the best thing to do is to be honest with “C”... not about my internal feelings of the interaction, because those feelings are mine and I’m still processing that but I was honest about the interaction.

 

I told him it also made me reevaluate my relationship with him (“C”) and that I am thankful for him and appreciate him.

 

“C” took it really well! Told me he appreciated my honesty and asked me what I intended on doing so after careful debate, I decided to let X know that continuing communication would be inappropriate and block him. I haven’t done it yet. I want to word it carefully and sensitively, which C understood. He said I didn’t have to block X for his sake but I told him it was the right thing to do since X obviously didn’t respect me or my current relationship.

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It sounds like you're on your way to establishing healthy boundaries.

 

What seems problematic to me are those reservations about your internal feelings of the interaction. I don't fully know what you mean by that. If you're hanging onto private feelings for someone (residual without fully letting go), all you may be doing is fostering latent/dormant feelings that are able to pop up again at any time. I'd encourage finishing those thoughts and putting them to rest once and for all by asking yourself whether you are committed in your relationship at all.

 

Your last line about reasons for blocking X wasn't about C. It was about this other guy not respecting your relationship. The focus shouldn't be on the other guy or what this other guy from your past does. It should be on how interested and how much you love C. I'd be wary if I were your partner © and while he may be reserved in his reactions, I don't think you're fully into this relationship as you think you may be.

Edited by Rose Mosse
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Well put by Rose.

 

I had a similar thought. There is a fine line between being honest with our partners and offloading an emotional whirl onto them to better manage it ourselves. The latter can feel like productive communication, even bonding, especially if our partner has a patient constitution. But the risk is that you are also turning your partner and partnership into a kind of laboratory to experiment with unresolved feelings rather than learning to resolve them on your own. That can make for a vulnerable connection, rather than a connection built on being vulnerable together—a fine line, at least until it becomes less than fine.

 

Not saying all that to trigger another whirl, but just as something to be aware of as you go about establishing boundaries and perhaps questioning whether your relationship with C has the right kind of fuel for you to be comfortable inside those boundaries instead of testing that comfort.

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Agreed on the emotional offloading. I don't think it's fair to put our partners through that. I'm wary of her internal reasoning. If she voiced it to her partner or not is besides the point.

 

The issue to me is that X seems to have far too much importance in her life and X and C cannot coexist. I would have approached it more grounded in the relationship and from the committed relationship standpoint in thought where action follows thought (not the other way around for example). What X does around her or with her should have no bearing on what his importance is in her decisions to be with C. That's just my take on it but it may be too heavy or serious for what the relationship with C is in the first place.

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Well put by Rose.

 

I had a similar thought. There is a fine line between being honest with our partners and offloading an emotional whirl onto them to better manage it ourselves. The latter can feel like productive communication, even bonding, especially if our partner has a patient constitution. But the risk is that you are also turning your partner and partnership into a kind of laboratory to experiment with unresolved feelings rather than learning to resolve them on your own. That can make for a vulnerable connection, rather than a connection built on being vulnerable together—a fine line, at least until it becomes less than fine.

 

Not saying all that to trigger another whirl, but just as something to be aware of as you go about establishing boundaries and perhaps questioning whether your relationship with C has the right kind of fuel for you to be comfortable inside those boundaries instead of testing that comfort.

 

BC I was going to post something -far less eloquent though. This is not about being honest. It's about choosing to share private/personal information. I would not have shared it as long as I resolved it as you say you did or unless he absolutely needed to know meaning you two shared an email address or something like that. I have an ex who contacts me via linked in about every 6 months for the last few years. My husband happens to know of him from many years ago because when we first went out for lunch as friends I'd been seeing this guy for a few months. This ex is mostly appropriate but that is because I keep it 100% appropriate. I ask after his wife, his family and keep things to appropriate topics. No I don't block him -no need - but I do sense that if I wanted to flirt he'd be up for it . He puts out mild feelers, little compliments (nothing about my looks in the least). I also do not initiate contact. So far I have not told my husband about these twice yearly brief exchanges on a business website. He seems to be mostly happily married and I'm fine chatting about our kids, jobs, etc. I probably wouldn't tell him -rather, if it veered into bad territory I'd cut him off completely and then it would be a moot point. To tell my husband likely would annoy him that this ex contacts me in the first place (he knows I link in on linkedin with people I dated, that I am in touch with people I dated -so is he) and for what purpose since I have it totally under control and more importantly have NO romantic interest in or attraction to this guy.

 

Thanks again BC. I agree.

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Several years ago I first came to this site because of a devastating break up. Here is the very first post I’ve made on here:

 

https://www.enotalone.com/forum/showthread.php?t=397817

 

Now, almost 10 years later, this ex has come back into my life after years of growth, self reflection and self positivity. I’ve moved on. I’m in what is probably the most healthy relationship I’ve ever been in... but, well, I guess I’ll just copy/ paste what I had posted on a different advice site... of course for a complete history of my complete heart break when X and I first broke up you can view my first post for a clearer picture (not to confuse things but I referred to my ex as “C” in my first post on here. The below refers to him as “X” and my current bf as “C” - for current:

 

I won’t go into the agonizing long story that was me and my ex but long story short, we met when I was 23 and recently out of an abusive relationship. He was 33 and showed me what it was like to be treated with love and respect from an SO. We got engaged. Our relationship moved fast and passionately. Both of us lost a parent in that time, he was still going through the motions of divorce, child visitation, etc and after almost 2 years we broke up very suddenly due to both our faults, outside circumstances and a lot of stress. The day after we broke up he moved back to his home state. We spoke off and on for about 6 months after, but it was toxic for us to do so and we dropped contact for about 5 years.

 

In those 5 years, I never got over him. Every relationship I compared to the one I had with him, ultimately sabotaging any prospect for a fulfilling future with that person.

 

One day, when I was living with my most recent ex (I’ll call R), he sent me a friend request on social media. I accepted. We kept it pleasant with “hi, how are you”’s and kept it basically at that. I felt like at this point I was strong enough to move past my feelings for him and concentrate on the relationship I was in. Ex fiancé (who I will call X) had a girlfriend, which didn’t send me into any sort of crazy fits of jealousy like I thought it would so I figured I really did move on.

 

3 years ago I got out of the relationship I was in at that time (completely unrelated to X) and soon after met C (current boyfriend). I had never had such strong feelings for another person since X until I met C. C and I are great partners. We tackle issues head on, but sometimes I would notice myself wishing our relationship was as passionate as it was with X. Don’t get me wrong, despite many ups and downs C and I have had, we always work things out, even when we reached what we thought was a point of no return at one point in our relationship - I won’t go into detail, mostly just lack of communication that escalated over time.

 

Over the course of the 5 years X and I have been fb friends, it’s obvious he is just looking to make enough money to pay bills and have fun. Him and the gf eventually broke up, he is still living a lifestyle that would be acceptable for someone in their 20’s, but maybe not a 43 year old father of 3 (although now his kids are adults).

 

Before I got with C, I confided in my best friends that I did believe X and I would end up back together when I was 40 and he was 50 when we were in better places with our lives. I had also confessed this to X during a drunken conversation we had while I was getting over my breakup with R, before meeting C.

 

Last week was my birthday and I went to visit my family in a different state. X messaged me to wish me a happy birthday and to tell my family he said hello. From there, he texted daily to tell me how much he misses me, how much he thinks about me and always had. I told him I am happy in my current relationship and I did not feel that he (X) was in a place in his life that I could consider being relationship potential. He agreed and reminded me that I had said I see us getting together in our next decade of life. He said “I have less then ten years to get my life together and now I have motivation. Maybe I can get it done in 5!”

 

Now let me preface my next sentence by saying that I would never cheat on C. I would never leave C for anyone else. But... the feeling of happiness and warmth I felt from X saying those things a couple of days ago is so strong and I feel so guilty. I’m back home with C now and just going over the conversation with X in my head keeps tearing me apart. Not because I fueled that conversation, but because it made me happy to hear that from “the one that got away”. I thought I was over him but now I’m second guessing.

 

I need advise.... what should I do? I don’t want to block X because he is still someone who was there during one of the hardest times of my life, and someone who showed me that it’s okay to have standards for myself in a relationship. But I also feel like I’m completely disrespecting C by remaining friendly with X.

 

You are cheating on C. How would you feel if he were having the same sort of communication with an ex?

 

You should have cut this off, long ago. Are you doing it for the attention?

 

X is no prize. I don't understand why you would even consider wanting to be with someone who is a cheat and behaves like a man child. I feel sorry for his kids for having him as their role model.

 

Saw your update. Glad you will block this guy.

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Batya, your husband would get annoyed by your ex contacting you? Why then would he be in contact with people that he has dated in the past? This seems a bit pot calling the kettle black. I'm not a fan of all these in my marriage (personally speaking). It's too inconsistent for my liking and overly complicated.

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Agree, Batya.

 

And I agree with Rose—and, heck, Dani kind of spelled it out herself—that one of the issues here is that the connection with C might not be strong enough to withstand the power of X and/or what X represents. When Dani has had doubts it wasn't merely about their connection, but about "wishing the relationship was as passionate as it was with X." That the relationship with C has once grazed "the point of no return," of course, also points to fragility, holes in the bottom of the ship that leave room for X, or at least what X still represents, to slip through and rot the wood, even once those holes are mended through "tackling things head on" and "always working things out."

 

Sorry to put it all under the microscope, Dani, but I think this is a fine time for some honest reflection within. I've been in relationships—long, and in many ways pretty good ones—where the thorn of a past love remains sharp, where some part of my mind still has them anointed my North Star. That I could recognize that mental glitch didn't negate it, as awareness and reprogramming aren't the same thing, sometimes the very opposite. I've never found they quite work because there is always this little itch, this sense that there is something more to be felt. It can be easy to ignore for long stretches, but then, alas, there it is, surfacing when things get a little stagnant or, of course, when the ex (or the X) hits you up.

 

For me, it was a relationship like that that led to some real self-work. I wanted to be a better partner, by which I mean I didn't want to put the pressure on a new partnership to demagnetize the pull of a past partnership. To be that kind of partner, I needed to learn to do that hard work myself: letting go of the past, and my stories of the past, so I could live and connect in the present. In my case, I think I knew, on some level, that the woman who would genuinely blow my mind and hold my interest would not put up with that dynamic, that she'd be able to sniff it so quick she wouldn't get involved with me, leaving my options confined to women who almost, almost worked but didn't quite work.

 

So I had to do that sniffing myself. Going down that path makes these sorts of boundaries much easier to set, and these little broaches things we can navigate and resolve on our own rather than turning to our partners for resolution. Put simply, when you're totally crazy about someone, and when that crazy isn't connected to their ability to keep demons at bay, the exes and Xes of this world can't get much of a foothold on the wall. Even when they peer over—per Batya's examples—they tend to slip down pretty quick, without much drama or the triggering of anything that needs to be "tackled head on."

 

There are ways in which I think your "story" about C is that he is the guy who bumped X from the top spot—who did the thing you hadn't figured out how to do yourself. When that story holds, you're content. When that story turns out to he thin, you flail. But C is just C, a person, not an eraser or pacifier. He can't occupy that pressurized role, because no one can but you. Maybe this can be a moment to really see that, and now go about seeing if you and C can deepen as a city of two rather than a fortress to protect against X, if that makes sense.

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