The Ex Factor: Why It’s Silly To Be Jealous Of Past Girlfriends

The other day, I was telling some stupid story about something ridiculous that happened in college and since my ex-boyfriend was integral to the story, I mentioned that he was there. It gave me some pause because I realized that my exes come up a lot. I don’t think I’m unnaturally obsessed with them, but I’m also not going to sacrifice the punchline to a good story just because I’m scared it’s going to upset my current beau. (Also, I know he’s going to be okay with these mentions, because, duh, he realizes that I’m totally not hung up on these dudes.) Funny thing, though. My boy Andy rarely mentioned his ex-girlfriends. At most, he’ll be like, “Yeah, I’ve been to North Carolina. Asheville’s amazing.” And I have to say, “Who were you with, [insert name of one of his exes]?” Which he either confirms or denies, depending on his mood.

We’ve both hit the point that we know what’s in the past is in the past and not necessarily affecting what we have. But I do wonder if I should be more prudent about my hilarious ex-boyfriend stories. Because even though he doesn’t care, I’m sure he also doesn’t really want to know.

The idea that we’re supposed to be jealous of the people that came before our partner is silly (unless, of course, they can’t remember your name), and everyone who is in a relationship with open communication knows it.

Curious, I called exactly one ex-boyfriend, who insisted on being referred to as Martin because he’s “a professional now.” Whatever, Marty! I knew you when you were skinny and annoying, well before those fancy advanced degrees. You’re Marty.

Anyway, as Marty and I talked about our relationship (four years, through my late high school and early college years) and his current marriage and my impending marriage, it all fell right back into place. We talk every few months, and we have a familiarity to us that I hope never goes away. But there is no sexual attraction there. We’re both happy in what we have now, and I’m confident that these phone conversations will spark nothing that his wife and my boyfriend have to worry about. As we talked, Marty’s point was that he and I had plenty of time to get over each other before we entered into our current relationships. However, his most recent ex did cause a few issues very early on in their relationship (possibly because he made the boneheaded move of calling his new girlfriend by his old girlfriend’s name), but now that they’re settled into their long-term thing, they’re both cool now and over the name error…not that he’ll be name-dropping his ex any time soon, just to be safe.

Another funny thing, though. That evening, when I was telling Andy that I’d spoken to Marty that day, he narrowed his eyes and said really slowly, “Marrrrty, eh?” I knew he was joking, but I decided to press the issue for the sake of this column. “Why did you react like that?” I asked. And he just looked at me blankly and was like, “I don’t know, aren’t I supposed to be jealous of him?” And I guess that’s it.

The idea that we’re supposed to be jealous of the people that came before our partner is silly (unless, of course, they can’t remember your name), and everyone who is in a relationship with open communication knows it.

Because, really, having that foundation, having practice relationships, people that we were able to make mistakes with so we can finally, truly have a long-term, loving, hopefully drama-free relationship is something we should be thankful for. We should be happy that there were people we were able to mess up with so we can have what we have now. I know Marty and I both are.

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