Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

16 Nov

“How’ve you been?”

That’s the message I received earlier this week from an ex-boyfriend. Not just any ex-boyfriend, but the ex-boyfriend. The one who crushed my heart into a million little pieces over a decade ago.

He was my first real love, and our relationship was built on a great friendship. I remember staying up all night on the phone with him, talking and laughing about anything and nothing.

They say love is friendship set on fire, and this was definitely true for us.

Our relationship was great in the beginning, but eventually began deteriorating. He and I had two very different view points on what it meant to be in a relationship. We seemed to fight about everything, and spent the last half of our relationship making up more than we did actually getting along.

Our relationship was like an addiction. You know it’s wrong for you, and it makes you feel terrible most of the time; despite this, you can’t let it go. I promised myself that tomorrow would be the day I’d break it off, and make it stick.

Tomorrow never happened.

We fought and fought and fought. Every argument took something away from me. I felt exhausted, deflated, angry, confused and unhappy.

I was living in Seattle at the time, and knew the only way to kick this bad habit would be to put some distance between us. I called my parents, and asked them if I could move back to California. My dad and grandfather helped me move when my apartment lease expired.

I was still in contact with my ex when I moved back, but we couldn’t help ourselves. We were back to our old ways.

We stopped speaking. He was dead to me.

I cried every single day for over 6 months. That’s a small price to pay to get your happiness back, but it was pure torture at the time.

When my anger for the situation finally subsided, I sincerely hoped he’d find happiness. The guy who was once dead to me was now a ghost I wished was living well in his afterlife.

I’ve thought about him off and on over the years since then. Not because I wanted him back (I recycle a lot of things, but relationships aren’t one of them) but because I don’t believe you can permanently erase someone from your memory who meant so much to you at one time.

Apparently he had been thinking about me too.

Time goes on. People change. Romance turned hatred turned indifference can one day turn friendship.

“How’ve you been?”

“Most excellent…you?

And just like that, the ghost was brought back to life.

97 Responses to “Ghosts of Boyfriends Past”

  1. jeandayfriday 11/19/2013 at 5:19 am #

    I have had this happen to me, and I am sending you a virtual hug and a virtual pint of Ben and Jerry’s. The ones that got away are the toughest to get over, but time heals and if friendship can blossom, that is a great thing.

  2. PinotNinja 11/19/2013 at 5:15 am #

    While this appears to go against the grain of the majority of comments and I am the queen of bad decisions, I think its fantastic that you are back in touch and were able to have a nice conversation and wish each other well. Obviously there were plenty of good reasons why it didn’t work out and why you both have moved on, but there is also plenty of good to this person otherwise you wouldn’t have fallen for him all of those years ago. There is something nice and special about always holding onto a little bit of the people — especially the most important people — who made us who we are today.

    I kept in light touch with all of my exes — semi-annual emails or, when we were living in the same city, after work beers — and I haven’t regretted one second of it. Seeing their happiness confirms for me that I made the right decision in ending things and that we’re all better off in our new places.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 9:10 pm #

      GO AGAINST THE GRAIN! I like your boldness.

      I won’t say a bad word about him because I do think he’s a good person at his core. Is he the kind of person I’d want to date or become besties with? No, but I do have respect for him as a person.

      I think it’s wonderful you keep in touch with your exes! Says a lot about your relationships.

  3. Three Time Loser 11/18/2013 at 8:45 am #

    Had a similar experience this past March when an old flame – high school boyfriend, first love, ‘the one that got away’ or however you want to describe it – found me on Facebook and sent a similar message. It would have been lovely had we not done the ‘what if?’ hook-up ten years after high school that ended very, very badly 18 months later. He had changed too much from the sweet high school love I remembered and had instead become a hard, cynical, petty, alcoholic. I gave him 18 months and then ended things. For some reason, another 14 years later he decided not only to creep me on Facebook but to message me. I had some vague knowledge of his life as we had mutual friends. (He got married on my 30th birthday which I thought was weird). The innocent ‘how are you?’ message turned into an email (my bad, I gave him my email address) which turned into him wanting to spill his guts to me and convince me that he wasn’t the ‘bad guy’ he was when we split up. I told him that he must be working his steps and that convincing me that he was a great guy and all that crap was wasting his, and my, time. I had no interest in getting together with him to ‘talk’ – for I saw no reason to rehash what was in the past. The kicker was in one of his emails when he asked, ‘where do you work? I will come pick you up after work and we will go and talk’. Ummmm… no. Not going to happen. I told him he had a need to have everyone ‘like’ him and that what happened with us was in the past and would stay there. I do have to say that once I told him to back off he did – but I don’t know in what fantasy world he was living in if he thought her could talk to me about his marital problems. Thankfully I haven’t heard a peep from him since and I really hope it stays that way.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:30 pm #

      Wow, sounds like this guy has boundary issues. Good for you for knowing where to draw the line. Some people need you to do it for him!

  4. Veronica Roth 11/17/2013 at 8:32 pm #

    Oh I see, well, that doesn’t sound so bad. 🙂 And, at arm’s length and all that, who doesn’t want one more friend?

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:29 pm #

      Yep, hundreds of miles and many passing years in between us. I’d like to keep it that way.

  5. saradraws 11/17/2013 at 4:02 pm #

    UGH. The Sporadically Reappearing Exes.
    I have one particularly problematic one. I have none that I’m particularly eager to be in touch with. A few that gave me a panic attack when I saw the friend request (block that shit faster than cheese blocks colons).
    In short, I do not have a great track record.

    I’m glad that you might find a former friend. Friends are good. And people DO change. You are a total friend score.

    • Soul Walker 11/17/2013 at 6:03 pm #

      “friend score” is a fantastic term. Thank you.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:28 pm #

      I’m lucky that my ex doesn’t believe in social media (he loves being hidden) because I don’t think I’d want him poking around my Facebook page. I like this safe distance thing we’ve got going on.

      And yes, sporadically appearing exes are the worst. Most of my exes are.

  6. speaker7 11/17/2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Since you guys were friends before, it’s likely not out of the realm of possibilities that you can have some sort of friendship again especially if you know getting back together ain’t a good thing.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:27 pm #

      Not to be a dick, but I have better friends now. Maybe we could be friends, but I’m not rallying for it.

  7. Sophy 11/17/2013 at 2:12 pm #

    This has recently happened to me with two different exes on two separate occasions. Just a casual “Hi” and you’re back in the same mental state as you were before you broke up. It’s madness. However, I took the time to actually sit down with one of them and discuss everything that went wrong, how I felt and how he felt. And whatayaknow, it worked out. I’m not recommending it to everyone, I think this was a rare occurrence in the world of exes, but it was nice and it reminded me of why I liked him in the first place, before we got together. So I think I faced me ghost, and set him free.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:27 pm #

      “So I think I faced me ghost, and set him free.” Love this, and I’m really happy you were able to speak your mind and resolve some things. In my case, just hearing from brought him back to life…and set him free. I wasn’t holding on to him, but they do linger in their own way.

  8. Katie 11/17/2013 at 1:18 pm #

    I don’t know what the decorum is for situations like these, because none of my exes were anything remotely serious. We don’t talk anymore because frankly, we were never really friends to start with, but when you have that foundation, I imagine it’s totally different. If my current boyfriend and I broke up years from now, I can’t imagine not having some semblance of a relationship with him, even after.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:23 pm #

      I think the question is, can you still grow together? I sense I have already changed so much that my ex (referenced in this post) and I cannot have a real friendship. My most recent ex and I are thick as thieves, and I think that’s because we are still moving in the same direction, just not romantically.

  9. contemplatinglove 11/17/2013 at 6:32 am #

    Oops just left you a comment on the new post and realized after posting it, that I did read it. So this is the infamous post that some people advise you on…can’t believe it. I mean – it’s the Ex…Nobody can tell you what you should do or shouldn’t. I know how this feels. You want to ignore it, but it does touch you…in a weird ghostly way.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:20 pm #

      Ah, no worries. So much stuff is flying around here because of NaBloPoMo. I barely remember what I’ve written.

  10. 1jaded1 11/17/2013 at 1:23 am #

    What happened next?

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:19 pm #

      Nothing. That’s the crazy part. We texted a bit, caught up on basic stuff like families, if I like where I’m living now, etc. But since then? Not a single thing.

  11. Robbie 11/16/2013 at 10:54 pm #

    Sounds complicated & intense.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:18 pm #

      Amazingly, it wasn’t intense. I actually just shook my head and thought, “What the hell?” I never thought this would be reaction, but I’m so happy it is.

  12. Madame Weebles 11/16/2013 at 8:34 pm #

    My stomach started to churn while I read this. On your behalf, and also just thinking about my own boyfriends/scumbags past. Why do they DO this?

    I’ve had 4 exes try to come back, and with each one I thought, “Seriously??” But the one who wins the prize for the Most Fucked Up is the one who tried to come back multiple times, with the grand finale of trying to get me to reconsider my engagement to Mr. Weebles. I told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted him to rot in hell, ASAP.

    I hope you’re not having too much difficulty with the Resurrection of the Ghost. It can be kind of a mindfuck, as you know.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:17 pm #

      I know we already talked about this offline, but that situation with your ex wanting you to give up on a guy who treats you right is ridiculous. It’s like holding up a rice cracker and saying, “Want to trade that steak you have for this?” Not gonna happen.

      I realized how much therapy has already helped me because I truly didn’t care about him contacting me. I’ve wondered what this would be like, and I’ve often speculated that I’d be confused and angry, but instead I feel absolutely nothing. Progress, my friend.

      • Madame Weebles 11/20/2013 at 8:46 am #

        That’s huge progress, and I’m high-fiving you. I didn’t feel much other than just disgust and “What, are you insane?” when my ex did that. Whereas in the past, the idea of hearing from him would have made my blood boil and I would have been dreaming up all kinds of ways to ruin his life. I guess I’m becoming less vengeful in my old age.

        • Jen and Tonic 11/20/2013 at 9:02 pm #

          Yes! “What, are you insane?” Phones need to come with auto-reply feature for messaging when it detects a text from an ex.

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