Updated: Jul 28
Are you the kind of person to give an ex-partner a second (or third ..) chance? Do you have a black-and-white rule to never go backwards? Maybe, you take a flexible approach to each relationship, but learn from them as you go?
I ask, because we're all different and we can all learn from each other; and sometimes, we need to have this kind of conversation.
Recently, an ex contacted me, sending me texts throughout the day. They were innocuous texts, completely trivial, but I thought to myself, "What are we doing here?". The last time I saw him, we had bumped into one another and he told me he was in a relationship.
I got to thinking about my experience with this particular person in a whole new way.
Previously, I had nothing but good things to say, because I had no complaints. This time around, though, it occurred to me that there were a few things about which I could complain. I could be very disappointed by a number of things, and especially by his total lack of reparation for taking me for granted. Well, heck. I could be downright angry!
I won't go into details. The point is, our brains fill in the blanks, and use filters that reflect our mood and our maturity.
Think back to an earlier relationship that ended. When it ended, there would have been a bunch of emotions and other events and experiences that provided a certain context. Fast forward to now, and you have a different perspective. The events which surrounded that earlier experience have ended, and their influence may have started to wane.
If we talk about the context, in which the relationship I had with this ex ended, then it was a complicated mess. I was trying to finish my PhD (stressful at the best of times). My mother had just passed away (I loved her dearly). My father had cancer and was dying (I loved him dearly too). I had enough money to last a year (two, maybe, if I was frugal), and had decided to stop working to concentrate on finishing my PhD. My then-partner's business started failing, and instead of calling it quits or asking for help, he just kept going. He didn't tell me about his financial problems until he was heavily in debt. Short story: I bailed him out until I was in debt, and then he left.
When his insurer declared him bankrupt, he could have listed me as a creditor, but didn't. If I was listed, then I might have got something back. Like I said, I started that period with enough money saved to get me through two years; and it all disappeared in paying his business' rent and outgoings, and his staff's wages. I had no job, and the debt just kept getting bigger. There was one Saturday morning that I remember clearly, when someone from my bank called to say that I'd missed one single payment on my home loan, and if it happened again they'd foreclose.
For a long time, I was fine. Despite my score on the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory being nearly 400, I understood that it was a hard time for him, and I held no grudge.
It has been a few years now, and not once has he contacted me to say anything about the whole fiasco. I've never really thought of it as a fiasco, until now; but I realise it was. My hindsight is enabling me to see both the good things and the deal-breakers, and I can honestly say why I don't want him back. Before, I could say that I didn't want him but I could also say nice things about him. Now, it's a different scene.
Now, inside my head, I see a man who is still capable of working, and therefore could offer to pay me back. Instead of testing the waters to "get a nibble", he should become an adult and own up to a few responsibilities. He should apologise for what he put me through. He should realise how awful my life was at that time, and understand that his job - as my life-partner - was to support me in my grief over losing my Mum and my worry about losing my Dad. He should have supported me through the bumps and scrapes of my life, instead of abandoning me to the wolves.
When I started this post, I asked three questions:
Are you the kind of person to give an ex-partner a second (or third ..) chance?
Do you have a black-and-white rule to never go backwards?
Do you take a flexible approach to each relationship, but learn from them as you go?
So, let's answer those questions honestly, as we are right now.
I have given a partner more than one chance; but that was that partner in that relationship, and they're not all the same.
I have always had a black-and-white rule to never go backwards - if a relationship ended, then someone stopped loving the other person; so why go back to someone who takes you for granted?
I suppose that my answers to the first two questions show a flexible-but-monotone approach! I would never go backwards, but I have given second chances and learned lessons along the way.
Would I put a "hex on the ex"? No, I'd still wish the best for anyone ... but the word "circumspect" does come to mind!