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Thursday, October 3, 2013

So, where was this quote when I was 20? Perfection.
I often say that I appreciate my exes (whether friends or boyfriends) because I learned something from each of them. Today, during my commute, someone on the radio was saying the same thing and telling a recently dumped caller that everything happens for a reason and one day, he would understand why his relationship ended. It got me thinking about the real stuff behind that reference. It’s easy to be grateful for general lessons learned after time passes and your brain has had time to let go and get some perspective (read: you’ve stopped missing the “routine” of the relationship and can understand that you are better off without throwing darts at photos and droning on to your friends about how he/she threw your whole life plan off course), but what are the actual benefits of having had certain people in my life for a time and then closing their chapter and turning the page?

Surprisingly, it wasn’t as easy as I thought to come up with a list of lessons. I had to go back and think over the relationships in depth. I think it was because I’ve forgiven all of them (more for my own well being than for the divine nature of forgiveness). Once I looked back, I found some laughs, some tears, and (way back in the corner of my mind) some lessons form exes (Lexons?) that have changed my life and how I deal with people.

Real friends don’t begrudge you having other friends. It is perfectly fine to have as many (or as few) friends as you want. If any among them make you feel like you can only have one friend and it should be them, run...before you end up running for your life. Dramatic? Not kidding. An angry, crying friend screaming "But you're MY friend!" is cray-cray and will make your life miserable

First dates should always be on neutral ground. Any guy who ever asked me on a date and subsequently scheduled that date at his house had one thing in mind and it wasn't dinner and a movie. I don't have to tell you what. You're grown. Of course, if that's what you're looking for, go for it. 

When someone tells you they’re not looking for a commitment, they mean it, despite their actions. I dated a few guys who started out on honest ground by laying out what they were looking for up front. No commitment, just dating. I was in the same place at the outset because, truly, who comes to the first date expecting someone to put a ring on it? Then, things would grow and we would be in a relationship with all the trappings of a real commitment (including in some cases meeting the parents). Then, suddenly, there'd be someone else and a partner who had nothing more to say than "I said I wasn't looking for a commitment." Boom. Years Wasted. Listen to people when they tell you who they are. 

Don’t fight the universe. When it keeps trying to pull you away from someone, leave. If you feel like you're on the battlefield instead of in a relationship (your guard is always up because of something your friend/partner has done, you're always prepared to argue, you'd describe love/friendship as stressful), leave. You know that feeling that every time you get comfy things tilt and your world falls off of its axis? Yeah. LEAVE. 

Love doesn’t hurt…it’s also not jealous. I used to hear "love hurts" all the time when I was younger. It's a lie. Love is AWESOME. People hurt. And as for jealousy, ain't nobody got time for that. Your friends/partners shouldn't be jealous of you or of other people in your life. It doesn't mean they love you more or are passionate about you. They are possessive and jealous.   

There are two types of love: conditional and unconditional. It is OK to put conditions on love. Everyone doesn’t deserve the unconditional kind. Some people don't deserve unconditional love. They are the people who've proved to be untrustworthy, hurtful, etc. If you keep them in your life, it is ok to say "I love you but if you screw me over again, love will not be enough."

It’s ok to bite your tongue. Just don’t bite it off. I am a big fan of picking my battles. Everything doesn't merit an argument and some things don't even merit a discussion. So, in those moments, I bite my tongue. That said, I don't ALWAYS bite my tongue. Sometimes, speaking up is just the right thing to do. 

If you have to go through someone’s e-mails, voicemails, and text messages or social media, you don’t trust them and it’s likely for a valid reason. I don't need to expound on this. Trust is essential to any relationship. If you don't trust someone, don't waste your time with them. NONE of your time. Trust your gut.  

If someone betrays your trust, forgive and forget or move on. There is no need in saying you've forgiven someone and staying in their life just to punish by questioning every move they make. A relationship where both people are miserable isn't one worth salvaging. On to the next one...

Anyone who uses your vulnerable moments as a weapon against you in an argument does not love you. In a moment of trust-filled vulnerability, I opened up to an ex and told him about a really terrible time in my life. About a month later, we got into an intense argument and he threw it in my face while calling me damaged (hate when that word is used as a weapon). I didn't push him out a window but I did realize then that he would never make a good partner because I couldn't trust him. Why I stayed after that is a mystery. Guess I had some more lessons to learn. 

Great sex is good. Love is better. Don't confuse the two. That's all. 

If someone tells you you’re not marriage material, don’t internalize it. If I did, I'd be single. Just because one person doesn't see a long term commitment with you doesn't mean no one else will. If you internalize such a message, you may drive the right one away. 

Don’t trust people who your animals are afraid of. My cat, Storm has only gone berserk on two people since I adopted her (she was 6 weeks when I got her and is now 16 years old). She hissed and freaked out, hair standing on end and the whole bit. SHE WAS SO FRIGGIN' RIGHT. Poor baby was giving me a Lassie style warning and I just put her in the bedroom and shushed her. Dumb mommy.

Have a life outside of your relationship. Your relationship can't be your whole life. You are a multifaceted person. Get a hobby. Travel with friends. Spend time alone. Live life....all of it. Otherwise, when you partner does things that don't include you, you won't know what to do with yourself. 

Fake it to you make it (show no weakness). Even when you don't feel strong, act like you are. If you say something like "I don't take crap from anyone." then don't. Don't say it and let someone walk all over you. You teach people how to treat you. When you show that you're confident and strong, you will eventually internalize it even if you don't start off being that way. 

If everyone you date turns out to be the same kind of a-hole, take a break. Date yourself. You're pretty awesome after all. I did this for a year. I got to know what I really wanted out of a partner and more importantly, I got to know myself. In that year, I grew up and stepped into the beginnings of the woman I am now. It was an amazing, albeit sometimes lonely, year. Totally worth it.  

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