Over my years of being a girlfriend to men, I’ve realized that eventually with every single one you will undoubtedly have a talk about your ex-whatevers. This is a normal development in the course of a relationship and should neither startle nor scare a person. Inevitably, you’ll talk about most everything at some point, so it stands to reason that this will come up, too.
I remember with one ex -you know, THE ex- when we had this conversation many moons ago and I was a baby of 18 or 19, he got outright offended that I considered relationships that didn’t last a waste of time. (I still do, but we’ll get to that.) He INSISTED that I was being foolish and that if you learned something from the time you spent with a person then it could only be positive for the rest of your life. How could something that you pulled a valuable lesson from be a waste of your time, he argued. And pretty much every man since has argued the same thing. (Ex-boyfriend Lesson #1: men put WAY more stock in their past than I do.)
A lot of that comes from a deeply embedded stubbornness that pushes me to strip men of all things they could potentially hold onto of me- most of the times going as far as stripping them of the title “ex-boyfriend” altogether and instead referring to them as “some dude I used to bang” or “this guy I hung out with for some time.” So obviously, I’m not going to give them the luxury of having taught me any sort of lessons and be all like “those years of my life? Totally worth it, because now I know that I can’t date a man that won’t give me a rim job.” (Ex-boyfriend Lesson #2: No rim job is totes grounds for dismissal.)
And I think we should also note, I don’t believe in staying friends with exes. I did at one point, but I can personally attest that for 7 years, I let every ‘relationship-that-coulda-been’ never build a strong enough foundation due directly to the fact I was “friends” with my ex. Of course, I never saw it as it was happening. To me, being friends with my ex-ball-n-chain meant I wasn’t crazy, right? Oh, look at me. I can be friends with my ex which means I’m a totally normal chick. Not a stitch of crazy here. But really, the whole staying friends with my ex-dudes thing was just a self-serving and selfish trick I had to make myself feel better inside. I would only call them when I needed to use them for something- be it emotionally or sexually or I needed an oil change. Even worse, whenever I wasn’t having the best of luck moving on with new dudes- I’d convince myself into thinking that me and my bestie ex forever should get back together, only to realize 3 weeks later oh yeah, we broke up because of this… (Just ask Sarah, who has had to talk me off that redundant cliff more than once.) And like I said, it prevented me from ever fully moving on, no matter how over them I thought I was.
I’m not saying you should hate all of your exes. I don’t really hate any of mine. (I’m not even saying you shouldn’t be friends with people gone by. You do whatever you want, people of the internet. Just make sure you put some thought into your motives and whether it’s a healthy decision or not for you.) If I run into one of my past flames at the grocery store I’ll be like hey and silently thank the lord that I decided to put make-up on. Fine. Shit happens. But I will
try to avoid the utter casualty that is calling them and saying hey, what’s up, just calling to see if all your wildest dreams came true, this is totally not because I’m hoping you’re miserable without me, let’s meet for an innocent drink as just friends? You know, to regale each other with stuff that’s none of either of our business anymore. Me? Oh, I’m great! That’s why I’m sitting around calling you because my new life is so fulfilling that I decided I should phone my old life.
To me, that’s not getting me anywhere; it’s just holding me up. I’m not one of those people that needs “closure.” We broke up. That’s the closure. And it took me a long time to realize this about myself. (Ex-boyfriend Lesson #3: Closure is an imaginary symptom of nostalgia and a way for me to hold onto things I shouldn’t hold onto. It’s not my responsibility to make sure you get a blow jay on your birthday anymore. Case closed. See ya never.)
Honestly, I’m sure that I’ve managed to sneak in some lessons from ex-lovers here and there -more than I’d ever give them credit for- but I’m hard-pressed to think that I couldn’t have learned the same lessons from regular everyday situations or relationships of other kinds. I’ve learned more about myself from my relationship with my mother, my brother, and a handful of my friends than any guy I used to bone.
However, this past winter, I was sort of seeing this fellow from out of town, and I totally learned something- that I have picked up a bunch of weird, little things from boys over the years.
This awakening occurred while I was on the toilet.
I had stumbled to the bathroom while at this gentleman’s condo to take a morning pee. I went to grab the toilet paper afterwards, and it came down from under the roll- not over. Immediately, I thought in my mind he puts the toilet paper on the wire trestle wrong. And then I stopped and gasped, still unwiped with a crumpled piece of toilet paper in my hand and my undies still around my ankles, and realized that thought was a direct after-effect of my previous boyfriend. Before him, I had NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED there being a proper or improper way to place the tissue paper you wipe your ass with on the holder. I just put it on and gave it no more thought- whichever way it tumbled down being the way it tumbled down. But after, because he had made it a point to let me know that he preferred his Charmin’ to be pulled a certain way, and I obliged because I didn’t really care so why fight it, his preference eventually became mine- without me even noticing. Weird.
Earth-shattering life lesson? No. But still something that I think of every time I use a restroom and the toilet paper is put on the opposite way that I (now) put it on.
As I drove home that morning with that unimportant epiphany mulling in my head, I started to think of all the other completely trivial and useless things I had picked up from men of ancient history, and it began to dawn on me that they had infiltrated my mind in a manner so far undetected that anxiety began to push down on my chest and I briefly entertained the idea of locking myself in a room for the rest of my life in a vain attempt to prevent such mental terrorism in the future.
But then I got a grip and decided just to blog out my mental issues instead.
So, what have I involuntarily learned from men that just didn’t cut it? All kinds of pointless things!
(All names have been changed because I’m a nice person. Just kidding- ask me, and I’ll totally tell you.)
Dave (together 5 months): Dave was one of my very first boyfriends in high school. Mainly what he taught me is that I will not lose my virginity to a man with absurdly greasy hair no matter how much he begs.
Mark (together 9 months): Mark was the first man I ever said I love you to. He taught me that men can be real pussies, I can go a whole 9 months without a single orgasm, and that mayo and BBQ sauce are the best condiments for a cheeseburger.
Randy (I have no idea how long we were together, but not very long): The lesson learned from this one wasn’t actually learned until I saw him years later, loitering in a parking lot, all strung out on heroin. I learned that I had narrowly avoided being pimped out by my boyfriend to other men for drugs.
Stan (together 11 months then broken up for 2 months then back together for 6 months then off and on for years): When considering ex-boyfriends, Stan is usually the one that comes to mind first, because dude, I loved this guy. Like love loved. Like shout it down from the top of a mountain love. That being said, Stan was able to teach me just a bit more than most. He taught me that some dudes look hot in visors, Ramen is only good with the water drained and a pound of butter added to the flavoring packet contents, and pretty much every single pick-up line I now have stashed away was direct from his mouth. He is single-handedly responsible for my dislike of cats, and also for my adoration of my boobs, because he really praised them. Before Stan, I thought my boobs were meh. After Stan, I thought they were the best boobs in the history of boobs ever.
He’s also the proof that I do have a heart and it is totally capable of being crushed, which is good because most people don’t believe those things about me, but also good because I managed to develop advanced evolutionary tactics to avoid ever being hurt like that again, like not giving a shit and avoiding relationships altogether.
Jose #1 (together 5ish months): He taught me that some men like to have me apply eye liner to their eyes and I will actually do that. (The larger lesson here is that I’ll pretty much do anything once, but definitely twice.)
Jose #2 (together 5ish months): Jose #2 was the first man that I said yes to marriage to. I learned that I do not want to ever plan a wedding, that I never want to live in the country Peru, and that men can be obsessed with having babies and love songs.
Jose #3 (together 5ish months): Men that really like their cats are creepy.
Roofio (together like 7 months): He taught me that once I go black, I’ll totally go back. Oh, and that I can be shit-housed drunk for the course of a whole relationship.
Toby (together about a month): You know how in Clueless Cher starts dating her step-brother Josh? Yeah, that can happen in real life, too. Except in real life, he’ll have absolutely no money, eat all your food, and not be Paul Rudd.
Michelangelo (together 3 years): Hear ye, hear ye. For the first time ever, I was able to make it a full, consecutive year with one man. So there’s that. Also, for the first time ever, I was able to stay an additional full, consecutive year with one man knowing damn well I shouldn’t -simply because I feared not being loved as strongly ever again in my life. So there’s also that. I also learned there is a wrong way to put on the toilet paper as previously discussed and that long term relationships suit me because they help me get my act together, but can also feel like prison. Oh, and a disheartening lesson? After having sex with only one person for over a year, I begin to think about lampshades and home furnishings while doing it.
As you can see, I’ve gathered some nuggets of knowledge from dudes along the way, but back to what I originally was talking about in this blog -that I believe all relationships that don’t last are wastes of time- regardless that I have learned these things, I would gladly let any of these boys disappear from the history of me. If God came to me tomorrow and said unto thee in thy booming voice Becki, my most perfect creation, more perfect than that of the whole universe, you have the choice of going back and not dating a single one of those dudes, erasing them in their entirety from your dudertoire, until you finally settle down with one dude for all everlastingness, and if you never meet one man that you will fatefully stay with, then you never go steady a’tall.”
… I would do it without even thinking twice.
You may think that’s heartless. You may think that’s foolish.
But essentially, I was always under the impression that we were supposed to find someone that made us forget them all anyway… I’m just trying to get a head start.