by Joan Ko
I've only had one other serious boyfriend before I finally met my present significant other, but in between those two relationships, I've met a few guys who have all suffered from being continuously compared to my first ex. No, he was not the greatest love of my life nor would I consider him as "The One That Got Away," yet forgetting about him became more difficult simply because we had the same set of friends, so we'd still see each other on several occasions.
The two guys I dated after him really had no single thing in common–but somehow I almost always think they should be more like my ex. From being artistic and dog-loving to knowing how to cook, I wanted them to have these qualities and interests that my ex had. It started to feel as if nothing they do is ever good enough which is why it never turned into something more serious.
When I finally met my now boyfriend, there were times when I would still compare him to my ex, and I got really frustrated with myself. It's like when TV shows recast for the new season and you can't help but compare the newbie to the original. Before it becames a toxic thing for our relationship, I finally decided to let go of my ex's ghost and move on. Here's how I did it.
1. I learned to have more faith in my significant other.
I became less concerned about taking risks because I started to restore my faith in having a healthy relationship. I started telling myself, "He is different. This one's different." which made me believe he could never hurt me like my ex. This became a way for me to open myself up more to him and worried less about something going wrong along the way. I knew he will always have my back.
2. I've accepted the fact that my ex is an ex for a reason.
It's pointless to figure out why things didn't work out especially if you have no intention of ever getting back together. So instead of building emotional walls and constantly worrying about how things could easily fall apart like before, I opened myself up to trusting, being hurt, and loving all over again. I grew tired of thinking about what could've happened if we didn't break up, and I'm glad I did. Instead of second-guessing everything, I trusted my instincts and admitted to myself just how "unfixable" we were. He was not the guy for me and I obviously was not the one for him. It's better to accept facts than distort my reality to fit some fantasy I was never meant to have after all.
3. Past and present are two different things.
I knew that thinking of the little similarities my present and past share with each other will just bring drama and turbulence to any relationship. So before things got serious between me and my current partner, I made it clear to myself that they are totally different from one another. It was difficult at first considering the fact that they both play in a band, both have a fascination for tattoos, and both grew up around the same neighborhood, but I went over so many details to prove myself wrong. No, I don't have a "type"; it was purely coincidential. And so what if I did prefer my boyfriend a certain way? I told myself it wasn't because I was creating a pattern out of my past relationship; it was because I genuinely like the present state I'm in and history had nothing to do with it. Liking someone who seems to manifest the same traits as your ex doesn't mean you'll end up having the same fights as before. It just means you're in a relationship, and it's up to you if you want to work hard to keep it that way.
5. I learned to love myself again.
After tirelessly blaming myself for being hung up on my ex for so long, I finally gave myself a chance to breathe again. I put myself first that's why we ended things in the first place, but the thought of him not being okay made me feel guilty whenever I get asked out. I knew it was unhealthy even for me (who keept on claiming that I've moved on) so I finally did myself a favor and allowed myself to meet other people outside our circle. I started building a new habit that is completely different from what I used to do when we were still together and it might not work immediately, but it was effective. Soon enough I started being more open to the idea of dating someone who's completely unlike him. I was thankful that I had friends who made it easy for me because if I didn't allow myself to get that much-deserved breath of fresh air, I wouldn't have experienced all the better things that came after a toxic relationship and an even more toxic hiatus.
I learned that my past should remain in the past, and that in new relationships, giving someone a chance and a clean slate, without bringing in baggage of comparisons is a must! Start fresh with an open heart and mind because trust me, focusing on your current relationship and who your partner is today will save you from reliving the exact same heartache like in the past. Lastly, remember how important it is to be emotionally available when dating someone new if you want to give the relationship a genuine chance. Your present, if dictated by your past, will never be good enough for a better future no matter which way you look at it.
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