Since the beginning of time, women have always hated their boyfriends’ exes. That’s just how it’s always been. As I know the sun will rise in the east and set in the west — as I know we need oxygen to breathe and water to live — I know this to be true. The thought of the person you love (or like — or have secretly claimed unbeknownst to them) pushing the hair out of some other girl’s face or calling her by a cute, just-for-them pet name is enough to make a girl want to nose dive off of the nearest building and into concrete.
In attempting to deal with our jealousy, we lay on a thick layer of hate. We screenshot her photos, and emphasize her flaws, and scrutinize over details of their lives that don’t matter. But today, I came to a realization. We should not be hating the exes, we should be thanking them. It occurred to me when I received the following text:
“Thanks for picking up my beer. That was very thoughtful. I can’t remember if I told you last night.”
At first, I was confused. Of course I picked up beer. What the fuck else was I going to do? Share my wine? Attempt sober sex? Preposterous. I wasn’t being particularly thoughtful. I was just being a normal ass hostess, who didn’t let her house guests, no matter who they were, go without something to drink. Common courtesy hardly requires a “thank you,” particularly not 16 hours after the fact. I appreciated the appreciation, but was shocked at his insistence on making SURE to thank me for something so small.
And then it occurred to me. This thank you wasn’t just for me. It had the all-too-familiar intonation of a “thank you” that had been drilled into his head after too many fights with a girlfriend in his past who felt “unappreciated” for the little things. He was thanking me because he never thanked her, and so it occurs to me…that I should.
Typically, in your first relationship, your boyfriend comes to you with “a mind of his own” and shit. This is bad. What you want him instead to have is a mind that thinks about others and their feelings and how his actions will affect your feelings. Before they are housebroken, boys do not do this which is exactly why high school (and sometimes college) girlfriends are so crazy — they have to train these guys to become good boyfriends. No one is a good boyfriend on their own.
So when you meet someone who is a good boyfriend, there is only one person to thank: the woman who trained him.
It’s her feeling unappreciated that led to your thank yous. It’s her bitching about a lack of thoughtfulness that led to your surprise flowers. It’s her snooping that led to your man knowing better than to flirt with some girl on social media.
If it weren’t for this woman unleashing hell on him for all the shit you’d think a man should just know about how women operate, he never would have learned better. But because she got upset that he didn’t want to do the dishes — not because he didn’t do them, but because he didn’t want to help her do them — he’d never offer to do them for you. Because frankly, nobody wants to do the dishes. But now he knows it might make you feel resentment if he doesn’t help. So now he offers his assistance without being asked, and that’s all thanks to her.
And don’t just sit around thinking she’s the only queen out there. Somewhere out there is an ex you released into the wild, who’s a better man for having dated you. Sure, it drove you to the point of madness, and his inconsideration turned you into a crazy person — but you needed to be that crazy person so he could later be a good boyfriend. And he had to be a bad boyfriend so you could learn not to be a crazy person. So you could learn which battles to pick. So you could learn not to nag or start fights in public.
I mean, sure, picturing your boyfriend with his ex will make your skin crawl. But he wasn’t who he is when he was with her. He was some immature version of himself who didn’t quite know how to deal with a woman. And sure, you can still tell yourself you’re prettier and she’s the devil, but at the end of the day, she made your boyfriend someone who’s worthy of you, and that’s pretty dope..
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