I remember the first time I compared a boyfriend to an old flame. We were about one and a half years into a four-year relationship when I began to feel like what started out as small issues were turning into big ones. Without going into great detail, let’s just say that he had a habit of not being there for me when I needed him.
A series of disappointments left me thinking about the relationship that I was in prior to him. It only lasted three months, but the guy I was with at the time was nice. Things ended when he admitted that he wasn’t truly ready for a relationship.
Although it ended abruptly, I would often find myself wondering how our relationship would have turned out had we dated for a longer period of time. Despite the way things turned out, our time together was free of the typical drama, so I had nothing but good memories of him. Therein lies the problem.
Here I was in what felt like a serious relationship (“serious” meaning that we were in our early 20s, were dating for more than a year and said “I love you”). We dated long enough for us to get on each other’s nerves, have a few disagreements and disappointments. Because my previous boyfriend and I didn’t have such experiences together, I made assumptions about what he would and wouldn’t do in certain situations based on his three-month highlight reel, thus unfairly comparing my then-boyfriend to him.
While the demise of that long-term relationship wasn’t based solely on my consistent comparison of my then-boyfriend to my ex, I found that it led me to devalue his other positive characteristics. I never told him, but after a while I was always waiting for my boyfriend to meet some unrealistic, fancied expectations.
It took some time for me to ask myself, why would I give energy to and entertain what my ex would do in particular situations when he didn’t really want to be with me? And why was I letting it impact my relationship?
We’ve all seen television shows and films where the main character blatantly disrespects his or her partner by telling them what an ex has done or didn’t do. As exaggerated as such scenarios seem, I’m pretty sure that those scenes happen more often in relationships with a not-so-happy ending than we think.
Not only is comparing your partner to someone from your past disrespectful, but it can also be downright insulting. Your partner can see it as more than just chastising his or her actions, but also feel as though you are attacking their character. Not to mention, the idea of you consistently thinking about your ex is a problem.
Can you truly leave a relationship in the past when you are comparing it to your current one? After all, there’s a reason you two aren’t together — unless there’s more you want explore. But when entering a new relationship, it’s always great to start with a clean slate. Because how would you feel if your partner compared you to any of his or her exes?
Comparing can take the focus away from your partner and the great things you have. While building relationships, we create memories with the people who are in our lives for that season. When the season is over and you enter a new relationship, file that person and that situation away or be prepared to only have those memories to keep you warm at night.
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