I’m just going to come clean: I hate every woman my husband has ever dated.
I won’t apologize for it or try to get over it. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will always hate them to some degree, depending on the depth of their relationship. If she was a random hook up, I’ll hate her slightly less than if she was a serious long term girlfriend. Regardless, I hate them all.
It’s nothing new; I felt the same way with all my previous boyfriends. I always struggled to be pleasant if I was with a guy and we randomly bumped into an ex-girlfriend, especially if they stayed friends after breaking up. I’m simply not capable of being “the bigger person.”
All you armchair psychiatrists out there are probably thinking, “Oh you’re so insecure. So irrational!”
I think I’m more territorial than anything else and, in situations like this, I completely understand why animals pee on things. It’s a clear statement: “Stay away. This is MINE … and I pissed on it so you wouldn’t want it anyway.” The slightly more evolved equivalent (minus peeing on my husband—that’s just gross) would be to contact all of his exes and deliver a similar message. There’s a majority part of me that would LOVE to do JUST that, but I realize that would only make me look like an absolute nut case, so I resist that overwhelming urge.
Based on conversations with other women, I don’t think I’m alone. But admitting that I’m a raving lunatic and having company doesn’t explain WHY I have this attitude toward exes.
Maybe it’s the inevitable comparisons that come up. You can’t help but wonder, ”How do I stack up? Am I prettier? Smarter? Funnier?” Hopefully you’re confident enough to answer “YES!!” to all of those questions. If you can’t, then maybe you need to forget about what you think and go by what he thinks. If he thought his ex was better in any significant way, he’d still be with her. But he’s not. He’s with you.
That alone should be sufficient, but let’s face it, it’s a nice ego boost when his best friend says, “Ooooh we HATED his last girlfriend. She was rude and drank too much … and she had man hands. No bueno, but we LOVE you!” especially when you’re having a less than confident day because Man Hands Mary is posting pictures of herself on Facebook looking svelte as she romps around in a bikini on her current boyfriend’s yacht.
Despite the obvious evidence and occasional encouragement, sometimes there’s just no way to compete. Francesca the Lingerie Model is a great example. She dated one of my ex boyfriends LONG before I ever did, so for all intents and purposes, she was irrelevant. Except the image of the barely-there “shirt” she wore on their first (and only) date was so deeply seared into his memory that his face lit up when he described her side boob in painstaking detail. Fuck you, Francesca.
Realistically, unless you’re still in high school, you have no business even HOPING that you are the only woman your boyfriend has ever loved and, chances are, you’ve sincerely uttered the words “I love you” to more than one guy.
There’s also the relationship comparisons: “How does my current relationship with him compare to his past relationship with her?” Although it’s never fun, I’ve tortured myself with this one MANY times. You start comparing milestones: did he ever say “I love you” to her? Did they exchange apartment keys? They never lived together but I wonder how much of her stuff occupied space at his place? Did it cover enough square footage to justify paying rent? I could go on … and on.
My ex Pennsyltucky Tyler is a great example of these milestone comparisons. He was engaged for nearly two years before we started dating. Had things panned out with us, I wouldn’t have felt like I truly had a leg up on his ex fiancé until our relationship surpassed a two year engagement. Crazy? Maybe. True? Definitely.
Realistically, unless you’re still in high school, you have no business even HOPING that you are the only woman your boyfriend has ever loved and, chances are, you’ve sincerely uttered the words “I love you” to more than one guy. He’s probably given his keys to a previous girlfriend. You’ve probably lived with a previous boyfriend. But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to believe our current relationship is different than all our previous relationships. We want to believe it’s special. We want to believe WE’RE special.
Once you’ve reached or surpassed some of those important relationship milestones, you should feel pretty secure in your relationship—lingerie models notwithstanding. The problem is, even if you’re confident that you’re hotter, smarter, funnier, sexier than all of his exes combined AND your relationship has long since surpassed any relationship that either of you has had before, exes still make us uncomfortable.
I’m confident, I’m married, and I still hate them. So what’s my excuse?
Maybe it’s because sometimes they linger and the past suddenly collides with the present, like when you come across an ex’s belonging at his place. Maybe he’s cleaning out a few drawers to make room for your stuff. Maybe you’re in the process of packing up his apartment because you’re moving in together. Maybe you’re snooping around while he’s out of town on business. Regardless of the situation, I’ve come across everything from clothing to love letters to pictures.
I could deal with her ugly Payless sandals—no sense of style. One point for me. I read the schmaltzy cards—she has horrible grammar and her handwriting makes it look more like a ransom note than a love letter. Two points for me. The awkward prom photos were entertaining—no one looks good in braces and taffeta, so she gets a pass. But I had to draw the line at the naked photos. Even though my boobs are bigger (123,111+ points for me on boobs alone), I’ve now seen her vagina … and my biggest concern was that we’d run into her at some point and instead of “Hello, nice to meet you,” I’d blurt out, “I’VE SEEN YOUR VAGINA!!” and have nothing else to say. There’s just no recovery from that.
Fortunately, the likelihood I’d ever meet the Star of the Vagina Monologues was slim to none since she wasn’t one of those friend-turned-girlfriend-back-to-friend exes. Those exes make no sense to me. Let’s see, being friends wasn’t enough for you, so you tried dating, but that didn’t work so you broke up and now you’re trying to go back to a friendship that wasn’t enough for you? Really? It didn’t work out. Move on. Expand your circle. There are plenty of other people you can date and/or be friends with besides each other. Plus the fact that they both want to maintain some kind of connection leads me to believe she’s potentially a latent threat—like I need any more reasons to run around peeing on things! The only advantage of friend-turned-girlfriend-back-to-friend exes is that you can actually see what their current friendship is like rather than come up with cockamamie scenarios in your head like I’ve been known to do. Which means, for once, you can quickly put some of those comparison-related insecurities to rest.
In a perfect world, ex-girlfriends would just vaporize and not leave their ugly shoes, grammatically incorrect love letters, and naked photos behind. But we live in reality. Ex-girlfriends are just part of the package. Regardless of the numerous reasons for disliking them, we should just grow up and be mature about it.
But again, we live in reality. So I don’t blame you for hating every woman that’s ever seen your man naked. You’re in good company.
Kate’s Dates is a column that runs every other Wednesday on Kate-book.com. It is written by the lovely Kate Richlin-Zack, who majored in engineering to pick up guys. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.