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. iRuniBreathe 11/16/2013 at 8:14 pm #

    In situations like this I always forget that I have changed, my life has moved on. You can’t go back in time and have things recreate themselves. I tend to remember the good, kind, person the ex once was, rather than the ratty scumbag things he said when he was hurt and angry. Some people will always be in your life, physically or otherwise.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:14 pm #

      “In situations like this I always forget that I have changed, my life has moved on.” I didn’t realize how much this was true until he contacted me. In our brief interaction, it occurred to me that he was wanting to reconnect with the old me. He doesn’t know how much growing I’ve done in the last ten years, and it’s why I can confidently say that nothing will come of this.

  2. Stacie Chadwick 11/16/2013 at 7:13 pm #

    Not to be a total downer, but as your elder, I have to advise caution. Most people actually don’t really change, and old feelings combined with new directions can intersect in unexpected places. That having been said, have fun, but keep your guard up. =/

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:13 pm #

      You are NEVER a total downer. I agree that often times when something rotten happens between you and another person, things can’t change enough to rectify that situation. I’ve learned that the hard way, and once was plenty.

  3. Girl Dans la Cite 11/16/2013 at 6:55 pm #

    The addiction relationship. I know it all too well. It’s exhilarating in the worst way when they get back in touch with you.

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

      Ten years ago I would have died for this moment. Him contacting me, letting me know he has thought about me. Truthfully, I didn’t feel much of anything. Just that it was nice that he seemed good, and his family was doing well.

  4. The Bumble Files 11/16/2013 at 6:54 pm #

    I totally get this, Jen. And there the ghost is brought back to life. But is this a good thing or bad?? People grow and change, but just remember, which it sounds like you are, what came before. Careful, sweetie.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:10 pm #

      Oh yes, I’ll never forget what happened before. Amazing how someone ripping out your heart seems to stick with you.

      The way I feel about it is…neutral. It’s nice to know he’s still out there, but I’m truly indifferent to reconnecting. I’m at such a good place in my life that I don’t need anything else.

  5. Edward Hotspur 11/16/2013 at 4:23 pm #

    I recently saw a picture of an old girlfriend I had fond memories of. It was a mugshot. She had been arrested for drug possession. She was a girlfriend 24 years ago. So much for fond memories, lol.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Wait, is that true?! If so, you traded up, my friend. Big time.

  6. stephrogers 11/16/2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Gosh it’s just so emotionally draining isn’t it? But it’s true, once you’ve had those feelings that run deep you can’t just erase them, and they come back at a moment’s notice.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:09 pm #

      It’s interesting because texting him felt like being frozen in time…but not in a “I want to get back with you” sort of way. Just that you start thinking about how life used to be. It actually made me realize how far I’ve come.

  7. Elyse 11/16/2013 at 3:52 pm #

    There are as many potential outcomes as there are people. Go with the flow. It may lead nowhere. It may lead to friendship. It may lead to love. If you worry about it it will lead to madness.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:08 pm #

      Worry has been such a problem for me in my life, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I just don’t anymore. Life is MUCH easier that way.

  8. Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth 11/16/2013 at 3:07 pm #


    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 3:08 pm #

      Nothing to run from, really. There’s personal wisdom and hundreds of miles between us.

  9. girlseule 11/16/2013 at 2:32 pm #

    Wow, you must have been surprised. I’m still vaguely in touch with my two exes, really just on Facebook. You will have to let us know how it goes!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 2:41 pm #

      Very surprised actually, mostly because of how much time had passed. There’s an assumption that if an entire decade goes by you most likely won’t hear from someone.

      I’ll keep you guys posted if we do become close again, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that 😉

  10. rollergiraffe 11/16/2013 at 1:57 pm #

    God, you’re cool. I would rather set myself on fire than talk to anyone I ever dated. Although one of my high school boyfriends got in touch with me one time, and it was really nice to hear about his pet snakes.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 2:40 pm #

      Cool or stupid? I think my readers are divided. I can’t even imagine how that conversation with your ex went. “So, yeah, I love Monty Python. He eats about one mouse a day, and hibernates the rest of the time.”

      • Soul Walker 11/17/2013 at 6:00 pm #

        Pythons don’t eat that much Jen, not even big ones… wait, was that the wrong detail to focus on?

  11. Paul 11/16/2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Before I met Lou I’d come out of a long term relationship that didn’t end well at all and made it impossible to stay friends. It took me a long time to get over the heartache(described to a tee in your post with all the same daily suffering) but the more time I spent being resentful and hoping things might change the more I suffered. One night I was in bed and a really powerful piece of music came on my MP3 player and I just allowed myself to surrender to it and the next day I was as bright as a button and haven’t looked back since. No curiosity but no hard feelings either. Just a nice neutrality and happy with what I have now. Friends and an amazing wife. I really would feel weird about hearing from her now and would be really uncomfortable.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 2:39 pm #

      Amazing how your heartache actually paved the way for meeting such a wonderful woman. We don’t see it at the time, but our bouts of suffering are the rain we need to help grow a new relationship.

      Glad you let go of the resentment. You don’t need that in your life!

  12. mollytopia 11/16/2013 at 12:47 pm #

    So what happened next?! My ex contacted me on FB. I went through hell getting rid of him, too, but 10 years later (I guess that’s the magic number for contacting old girlfriends?), I couldn’t have cared less. I politely responded and kept it moving. Good luck!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 2:37 pm #

      That’s pretty much all that happened! I think we’ll just have a “catching up” sort of friendship. I don’t see it progressing beyond that.

      I guess 10 years is a long enough time to get over someone, and then start missing them? Such a nice, round number.

  13. drewann2 11/16/2013 at 11:46 am #

    Ahh yes, I just got out I relationship like the one you describe. I think this last time what has been so easy to keep me from looking back is that I realized he didn’t seem to like anything about me. Once you realize someone doesn’t actually like you, finding peace with their absence is much easier. I didn’t think about home for two months, and it was only because I started to get horny! Ahhh, thank goodness there are alternatives. Don’t get tangled up in all the drama Jen.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:06 pm #

      Knowing that someone doesn’t like you definitely helps put the nails in the coffin. As much as it stings, it isn’t personal. I’ve been there.

      Laughed at the horny part. I think sex has kept people together long than they needed to be for centuries.

      • drewann2 11/16/2013 at 1:45 pm #

        Yes, luckily I’m a woman of the times!!!! There are plenty of “opportunities” out there for an unattached woman!

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:46 pm #

          The internet is amazing because it also allows you opportunities that are way outside of the scope of your world. Who knows, my soulmate could live in Middle Earth!

  14. Natali S. Bravo 11/16/2013 at 11:41 am #

    Great Post! Exes come out of the woodworks when they smell your happiness. They want to test your strength.

    Please take a moment to red about my journey to forgiveness.

    I hope it inspires others that have gone through similar events.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/18/2013 at 1:07 pm #

      Thank you for sharing! So happy you were able to confront your situation, and finally resolve it.

  15. javaj240 11/16/2013 at 11:17 am #

    Tread carefully, my friend!

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:05 pm #

      Thanks for the warning, darlin’. Although, knowing how similar we are, you know I’ll put the kabosh on that if I smell a rat.

      • javaj240 11/17/2013 at 6:24 am #

        Good girl!

  16. signorad 11/16/2013 at 10:33 am #

    Pretty much everything you’ve said here is what my relationship with my first boyfriend was like. He was a good guy – just not a good boyfriend. Thank goodness those days are over and we’ve both moved on with people who are more suitable for us.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:04 pm #

      “He was a good guy – just not a good boyfriend.” Yes! Exactly. Now that I’m older and more mature I see that some of the stuff that happened between us was just immaturity. I’ve moved on, he has moved on, and that’s the best outcome you can expect from that kind of situation.

  17. contemplatinglove 11/16/2013 at 10:06 am #

    This reminds me of my story with my first love. Took me over 6 months to get over – most depressing time of my life.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:03 pm #

      Right? Doesn’t 6 months seem like forever when it’s happening, but when you look back on it you know it was totally worth it. Detox sucks.

      • contemplatinglove 11/16/2013 at 12:07 pm #

        Yea. Well I think the lesson is worth it. But the pain is never deserved…

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:11 pm #

          No, it’s not, but I know for myself that there were some lessons I wouldn’t have learned had I not been knocked down. I was lost in the fog of my own thoughts to see clearly.

          • contemplatinglove 11/16/2013 at 12:12 pm #

            It seems that first live does that. Carries ceryain sadness, lots of lessons and a touch of hope.

  18. daniheart21 11/16/2013 at 9:08 am #

    I think I’m a little afraid for you Jen. I want to scream danger! run! lol It always amazes me how toxic people can infect us. All that said… I truly hope you can be friends and that the friendship will be good for both of you. xo

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:02 pm #

      I love that your heart is in the right place Dani ❤

      I don't expect much from our friendship other than the occasional, "Hey, how are you?" and catching up. I'm also way more self-aware than I used to be, and am at the point when I'll call bullshit when I see it.

      You know how sassy I can be 😉

      • daniheart21 11/16/2013 at 12:07 pm #

        yes..counting on your sassyness to protect you sweet Jen. You are definitely a wise woman these days. xo

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:11 pm #

          I owe it to my therapy! And to getting older, probably.

  19. Kylie 11/16/2013 at 8:58 am #

    Ooh, be careful! It’s interesting that this post followed the one about the relationship advice on getting back old boyfriends. Not that I’m saying there’s a link (I’m being sincere).

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:00 pm #

      I know you’re being sincere! I actually wasn’t going to write about this at all, but the post from yesterday inspired me to. I was the girl who played games with the boyfriend I’m referencing in this post. We both did it which is why we fought so much.

      Taking all this time away and just living my life allowed me to see how truly stupid our relationship was, and how incompatible we are. Begging and chasing is a desperate move made by desperate people. I hate to admit it, but I was desperate.

      • Kylie 11/16/2013 at 12:20 pm #

        Like so many of us are! Driven by hormones and the mating instinct, reinforced by cultural messages about our value and happiness being tied up in our relationship status. It’s a lot to sort out. Our bodies are ready for relationships so much before our brains are!!

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 12:22 pm #

          Exactly! At the time it was a feather in my cap to have a boyfriend, and now I cringe thinking about being proud of that relationship.

          Damn those hormones! This is why I like getting older.

      • Kylie 11/16/2013 at 12:22 pm #

        Also, these reflective posts are wonderful. You always tell such hilarious, self-deprecating stories but you write equally well about deeper stuff. I’d be envious if I didn’t enjoy your blog so much!!

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 3:23 pm #

          Thanks, Kylie! Writing deeper is something I’m fairly new to, and have always wondered if people even care to read about that stuff on this site.

  20. Cheri 11/16/2013 at 7:37 am #

    Oh my…you and I wrote about the same thing today, pretty much. I feel for you. I am struggling with the “ghosts” in a big way right now. HUGS

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 11:59 am #

      Just read your post, great piece! I have to say, the first couple of years after the breakup were difficult. I thought I’d never get over it. Then I found someone else. We broke up, I was sad again, then I found someone else. I’m single again, but this time I have the wisdom to know that I’m just learning my way in this world, and one day I’ll have a relationship that sticks…and I’ll be a better person for having waited for it.

      • Cheri 11/16/2013 at 12:14 pm #

        Thanks for reading. I appreciate that. The comment as well. I feel the same way, most days. My problem is I am 45 now and men my age want 20 & 30-somethings. I get hit on ALL of the time, but the men are usually either married or still in their 20’s! right now, I am actually seeing a guy who is 27 and I am NOT a cougar in any way. When we met I was out with my step-father and his GF and ALL of us thought this guy was at least in his mid-30’s … so much so that I didn’t ask. Once 2nd date came around, age came up in another conversation and I was like OMG hahaha. At first I was freaked out, but I do like the guy so I have a mind-set that this is a “just for now” thing because even I am not stupid enough to think this guy would appreciate me (or the age difference) 10-years from now.

  21. Twindaddy 11/16/2013 at 7:28 am #

    You’re right, Jen. You CANT erase someone from your memory when they meant a lot to you once. The trick is remembering the good.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 11:55 am #

      You’re totally right. In the wake of any breakup, it’s very hard to see beyond the bad, the angry, the dysfunction. After nearly a decade, the sky is very clear, and I can look back on a lot of things and smile.

  22. Polysyllabic Profundities 11/16/2013 at 7:23 am #

    I love the way you wrote this. I hope you can find some peace in your friendship. 🙂

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 11:54 am #

      Thanks! I doubt we’ll ever be besties, but it’s nice to know that someone who was such a big part of your life is doing well in life.

  23. Diary of Doting Mom (@shyvish) 11/16/2013 at 7:19 am #

    Very true that a relationship you invest so much in, can’t completely disappear. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing? After all, you did get something out of it-a more mature outlook maybe?

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 11:54 am #

      Exactly. I learned a lot from that relationship, and even from him, and that’s why you can’t ever really let it go. It exists in who you are.

  24. MakeWayForLindaJ 11/16/2013 at 7:15 am #

    Jen –

    I think guys and girls can be friends if that’s what they’ve always been. But once you seen someone naked, it’s hard to UNsee them naked. Which is why all my I’ve-seen-you-naked guy friends have been relegated to Facebook friendships. It’s harder to picture someone naked on Facebook… most of the time.


    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 11:53 am #

      I actually never saw this boyfriend naked so there may be hope for our friendship!

      • MakeWayForLindaJ 11/16/2013 at 12:57 pm #

        On a scale from nun to whore, where do I fall since I automatically assumed that you two had bumped uglies?

        • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 1:21 pm #


          It’s a fair assumption, our relationship just wasn’t like that. I don’t even think I realized I had a vagina at that time.

  25. krik91 11/16/2013 at 7:09 am #

    i’ve recently had this happen to me, with a guy i went out with about 5 years ago, its just of the blue sends me a message,
    :” haven’t talked to you for a long time how are you?”
    all the memories came back at once, it’s hard to let someone go.

    • Jen and Tonic 11/16/2013 at 11:51 am #

      It’s strange when someone reaches out to you after such a long period of time has passed. There definitely isn’t any romantic love there, but we were friends before. It’s hard to let go of that love.

      • krik91 11/17/2013 at 9:07 am #

        We weren’t in love, bur just crazy how stuff like this happens. Its a curve ball, its like you haven’t thought about them or talked to them in so long, and then there they are,

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