The EX Files

We’ve all been there.

We’re in there’s-nothing-else-going-on-in-the-world bliss with our new dude and things are so right – almost too right – that we wonder if there is (or ever can be) any wrong. And then, at one moment or another, we see it. It, being a sweet something from his ex that she likely gave him once this phase lasted six or more months (the pinnacle time to determine whether a relationship is real or not). And it is in that moment that we have the ultimate opportunity to decide what we choose to make of it.

Do we want to a) let it roll off our shoulders, unaffected as if it’s not even there or, do we b) allow ourselves to obsess about it -and her – and them as a couple? Before my twentysomethings (and perhaps at the early stages of them) I’d do the latter. But as a twentysomething woman, I am proudly do the former. And I do it with such an ease that we should all encompass as adults.

People have pasts. You do. He does. Everyone does. Just because you have been in love with others before, doesn’t mean you like (or love) your current partner any less. How easy it is for us to live in our imaginations – they house thoughts that we create which often don’t have any truth behind them. We allow these thoughts to grow and develop, and then one day we see them as truths. If he still has this thing from his ex lying around, it must mean either he wants to get back with her/isn’t over her/is holding on to her, etc. But these thoughts don’t do you any good. He is with you now and the only effect his past has in your present is the experience he’s learned from it. Let’s not take something that has absolutely nothing to do with us and make it about ourselves. How narcissistic is that?

I remember at age 19 seeing a cutesy note in my boyfriend’s room. I read it. And then I read it again. And then again. And again. It was sweet, thoughtful and I allowed her words to effect the ones in my head. Her being his ex. I told myself – and created for myself – a story of how happy they were together and how I thought he wouldn’t ever get to that happy place where we could write these notes to each another. This one note I saw was so often on my mind, and when I thought of it I felt sad as I mistakingly told myself I’d never live up to her. Unable to deal with the stories that came from this one note in my obsessive blonde head, I regretfully asked ( made) him throw it out. How crazy of me. How crazy of him to do it. His past isn’t mine to take away.

As I grew up and went through a break up on my own I began to realize that – though I had a wonderful relationship with a man who I once loved and will always respect – these people and memories and feelings stay in the past and have no impact on my current ones. We are ever growing and with a new day comes new lessons and people and things that are important to us. At the time, each boyfriend was right for me and I will always appreciate what we had and experienced together with a smile on my face (even for the bad times – since they allowed me to grow and develop and build the strength to be the me I am today). But I’m not still in love with them and just because I may have a few t-shirts and cards and little memorabilia pieces laying around from them doesn’t take away from – or have anything to do with – my present. My now.

You know you keep these things somewhere, it only makes sense he would too. The funny thing is, when we leave things lying around it’s likely because we are oblivious to them, since we ourselves are so unaffected by them. In fact, I can think of a Tiffany & Co. card I have on my vanity, just because its a cute image on the card, and has been there since I was with my past partner. Until this moment it didn’t even strike me to move it into a box-o-past. So store things somewhere, don’t rid yourself of them and what they once meant because that was once part of your life and you’re entitled to those moments. And be damned well sure if you come across something at your current man’s place, not to judge it but instead to appreciate that this past of his allows him to be where he is now, with you. A couple of my exes have a filing cabinet where a Jen file lies, within which my little notes, letters of love and cards lie.

May they rest in peace.

Photo found on

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About the Author,

Jen Kirsch spent three of her first four years in College in a relationship. In her fourth, she let go of the idea of monogamy and did some very valuable “research”. This research has allowed her to make a name for herself as the go-to relationship expert, columnist and blogger in Canada. Her quick wit and all too honest tone (and background in broadcast journalism) make Jenny Jen the perfect role model for us college kids who need some advice from a best friend when our best friend doesn’t have the guts to say what we really need to her. Her blog Blonde, Bronzed, Twentysomething has the answers (and anecdotes) to everything and anything on your mind. Can we say twentysomething Carrie Bradshaw, anyone?