Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The ex-factor.

Something that seems to be a recurring theme of conversation recently is the subject of exes. Or rather, bad experiences with, or feelings about, exes. This is something I have never quite understood, or perhaps an area that I have just been extremely lucky in. For one, I am on good terms with all but two of the boys I have ever dated. In fact, I still consider one of them to be one of my closest friends. We meet up for coffee, dinners, photography excursions, speak every couple of days on the phone, and are generally very present in eachothers' lives. We love one another very much, but in a way that is so platonic that the fact that we used to be a couple is all but a technicality at this point. Of course, I realize that this is somewhat of a exception, but even with the exes I have much less contact with, every chat or birthday card is still pleasant and very welcomed. Obviously, these relationships didn't work out romantically, but for me this doesn't, at all, detract from the fact that we share beautiful memories and that there was something special and irreplicable that distinguishes each of them.

There is, of course, the other side of the ex-factor, which is the problems that people encounter with their partners' exes. This is also something I have never seemed to have a problem with. My contact with my exes' exes has always been minimal, but even on the odd occasion that there was contact, it was always pleasant and usually initiated from their side out of what seemed like pure curiosity. The one exception to this is G's ex-girlfriend, who I have not only met, but also emailed with occasionally. Many of the girls I know either despise or simply mistrust their partners' exes. Whether this is symptomatic of a problematic past or just pure insecurity is irrelevant. The point is, the ex is off-limits- a closed chapter which warrants little to no discussion, and certainly no amount of sustained contact or social interaction beyond simple cordiality. In many circumstances, I can imagine that this is warranted, but with G's ex-girlfriend, this is not the case at all. When the subject of partners' exes is laid on the table, I am always happy to exclaim that I have absolutely no complaints, that I think his ex is cute, smart, driven, funny, and generally an awesome girl. Naturally, the element of curiosity is there, but I feel absolutely no need to delve into the specifics of their relationship. In my mind, meeting his ex was a huge compliment to me and an undeniable testament to what an awesome boy I have found. She sets the standard high, and I can feel only happiness and relief knowing that G has such good taste in women.

The concept of an "ex" is quite an intriguing one. I have always found it such a great measure of character to see how one speaks about his or her past loves. I must admit, of course, that love is a tricky thing, and that not all experiences can end on such sweet notes. I have also been witness to the opposite side of the spectrum, to the hate and resentment that can be born as a result of an amorous encounter turned sour. I know I've experienced these emotions at one time or another, but as time passes and I begin to understand the concept of love a bit better, the bad memories seem, somehow, to fade away almost completely, and what I am left with is a smile on my face and a knowledge that the pain or disappointment of failed romance is quite meaningless in the bigger picture. Hate poisons and love sustains. Why hold on to what can no longer be changed and what no longer makes any real difference anyway? If you look deep enough, you will always be able to find something tangible, something lovable about a person, no matter what the history or circumstances surrounding your exchange with them. And in the end, really, you are never better than the sum of those you have loved and of those who have loved you.

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