Exes often have bad reputations because of the bitterness that we harbor towards them. But there a few very important lessons that they teach us too.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 17, 2020. It has since been updated.
A major part of a woman's life is discovering who we are. Among the countless people who helped you on this journey, some of the most important people are our exes. Yes, they caused you unbearable pain and they had absolutely no right to gaslight you. But, without that experience, would you really have realized that you were way stronger than whatever he threw at you? That you would come out of that episode, triumphant and stronger than ever?
Each one of them had a flaw which hurt you and drove you away. Each hurt you in some way. But each of these people taught you something and enriched your personality. With every relationship, you have known yourself a little better. A little more deeply. Below are the exes that have, unwittingly, made you stronger:
It may have started with "You're too much fun". But then, you became "too talkative", "too fussy. The Queen isn't coming home you know", "too logical. Be a little emotional", and "too emotional. Do you always have to be so sensitive?" Sounds familiar right? He made you feel like nothing you did was right. There was something lacking in you, always, even though you tried too hard to keep him happy. He made you feel like it was a bad thing to love and care with sincerity.
Hearing these things constantly made you doubt yourself quite a bit. But this relationship taught you that there will be a ton of others who will make you feel like you need to change yourself to be accepted. And much like the way you distanced yourself from this ex, you need to distance yourself from such people who constantly make you feel inadequate. But keep in mind that positive feedback is very different from being made to feel unaccepted.
"Why are you going out with your friends? Why can't you stay at home with me?" he would ask, as you were excitedly telling him how you and your girlfriends are meeting after a long long time. This ex tried to tell you what to do and what not to do ALL. THE. TIME. He tried to control what you wore, where you worked, who you spoke to, who your friends could be. And of course, no talking to anyone who is even remotely attractive. This person didn't ask for, but just took the reigns of your life. It was like you were one of his possessions.
You tried telling him to back off. Nicely at first, then assertively. But you soon learned that you can’t always trust that others will respect your boundaries after you state them. The strong woman that you are, you would have snapped out of the relationship the moment you felt the grip tightening.
"Honey, I'll probably be out late with my friends", over and over again every day for weeks now isn't the best thing to hear. Part of the joy of being in a relationship is feeling special that there is someone who thinks about you before anyone else. But this ex never had enough time for you. He never even made the effort to actually be there with you when you really needed him around for emotional support. You kept waiting, dropping hints of your frustration and your needs, but to no avail.
The experience taught you that you are responsible for your needs before anyone else — emotional or otherwise. You have to take ownership of your life and all its elements. And if someone comes along the way to support you, it is an added bonus.
You liked him. A lot. And you did everything to keep him happy. But somehow he just never saw how much you liked him. He left when he didn't need you anymore. You decided to move on. And he returned when he was emotionally distraught. You comforted him and when he felt better, he left again. You stayed in a state of limbo, not knowing if you were still together or not. You wanted to move on. But you were still so much in love with him.
This ex taught you that if someone shows signs that they are non-committal, it was best to believe them the first time. You deserve a person who can give you emotional stability. Someone who you know will be there when you need them and will be consistently there to support you.
He smothered you with affection until it was almost suffocating. It started as roses delivered to your office and rapidly moved on to texts every minute of every day. And if you didn't respond immediately because you went to the loo, he would frantically call till you picked up, only to hear him heaving a sigh of relief that you hadn't met with a mishap somewhere. You understood that the concern was genuine. And you tried to explain to him that there is a thin line between concern and obsession. You felt horrible that you had to cut ties with him. After all, he was a well-meaning guy.
But you learned that by distancing yourself from him, you were protecting your mental sanity. You knew you two weren't meant for each other. You learned that sometimes tough decisions need to be taken to ensure happiness.
Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.