Unless you’re lucky enough to be your partner’s first girlfriend, there’s at least one ex lurking in his past. It’s nearly impossible not to feel threatened by her. What if he wants her back? What if he’s secretly comparing you to her at every moment? What if you’re not as pretty as she is, or as funny, or as skilled a lover? To paraphrase the Alanis Morissette song, is he thinking of her when he’s with you?
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Relax. He chose to be with you, not with her. Here are some steps you can take to accept that she’s old news and you’re the beautiful, wonderful person that your partner chose.
Make Sure There’s No Cause For Concern
Sometimes, you’re dwelling on his ex-girlfriend because he is, too. Think over his behavior or talk about it with a girlfriend to make sure that you don’t have any actual cause for concern. Does he talk about his ex-girlfriend constantly or refuse to talk about her at all, or does he answer questions about his past honestly and refuses to dwell on her.
Does he hang out with her more than he hangs out with any of his other friends, and does he act evasive or disconnected from you afterward? Does he have prominently displayed mementos from their relationship, or a whole lot of pictures of her scattered around the house? Does he compare you to her?
If he does, you may have a legitimate problem on your hands. If he doesn’t, you have some perfectly normal but unfounded fears.
Remind Yourself That He Chose You
You may need to run it through your head like a mantra sometimes: He chose you. There are billions of women in the world, and of all of them, he picked you, not her.
You may think that she’s prettier or smarter than you are, but he clearly doesn’t, or if he does, he doesn’t care, because you have wonderful qualities that are much more important than your cup size or your ability to quote Shakespeare.
If repeating it to yourself doesn’t work, focus on all the ways he shows you that he loves you. Think about the little smile he gets just for you, the way his eyes twinkle when you walk into a room, the inside jokes, the pet names, the sweet little things he does to show you he cares.
These are all his ways of reminding you that he loves you more than any other woman in the world, even if sometimes you don’t know why.
If you don’t find yourself feeling jealous of anyone other than his ex-girlfriend, you can stop reading this paragraph right now, but chances are it’s part of a bigger problem with jealousy and your own sense of self-worth.
Remember that comparing yourself to others is useless. No matter what skill or quality you have, someone out there is better than you are at it, and someone else is worse. Maybe you always prided yourself on your sense of humor and his ex makes everyone laugh at moments when your jokes fall flat. It doesn’t matter. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are funnier than you and his ex, and your partner isn’t going to sneak off and have an affair with either of them.
Find your sense of self-worth in your own accomplishments, not in how they stack up to the accomplishments of others. Try not to think about how your traits compare to those of his ex-girlfriend, think of how they stand up alone. After all, say it with me again, he chose you.
Think Of Your Relationship With Your Own Exes
It helps to put things in perspective by thinking about your feelings for your own ex. Do you constantly compare your partner to an ex-boyfriend? Are you two glasses of wine and a bouquet away from abandoning your partner for your ex-boyfriend? When you mention something about a past relationship, is it your passive-aggressive way of saying that you wish you were in that relationship again?
Of course not. It’s not true about you (and if it is, you have much bigger problems than your partner’s ex), and it isn’t true about your partner, either. Remind yourself that your attitude toward your exes and your partner’s attitude toward his are probably the same. None of them is your star-crossed love. Your ex-boyfriend isn’t your partner’s, either.