Zot in the City: Opening the Relationship Ex-Files

We all secretly do it. We all wonder what they’re doing, how they look, whom they’re dating and whether they ever gave us a second thought when they broke our hearts. Do they feel sorry now, or are we erased from their past as fast as they can say, “It’s not you … it’s me”? Our exes, no matter how mean or nice, how in love we were with them or how much we regret ever dating them, become an inevitable part of our relationship history. Some of us may forgive or forget, and some of us may do both or neither. Despite how we deal with a relationship’s end, we have to deal with that relationship for the rest of our lives.
My boyfriend and I spent Saturday morning in bed talking about his ex-girlfriend, whom he dated three years ago. He poured out his heart and told me how she continued a pattern of ignoring him and simultaneously telling him that she still wanted to be with him.
When we first began dating, any mention of Brandon’s ex made me cringe. Even if she was a part of his past, she was still on his mind in the present, and that meant competition. But now, as we air out our dirty laundry, this background information has made Brandon appear more endearing, resilient and understanding than I originally thought. His ex is not a threat, but a key to understanding why Brandon is the way that he is now.
We have both let our exes go without much contact, but I will be the first to admit that sometimes I can’t help but reflect on certain memories while I scroll through my ex’s Facebook profile. I often wonder if I changed because of our relationship and if he has ever thought about me. Does the fact that he broke up with me affect how I handle my relationship with Brandon? It probably explains my sensitivity to rejection and informs me of how I handle my relationship problems, because no matter how much we try to keep the past in the past, it inevitably creeps into our lives on some level.
My friend Brooke’s past has crept into her life