Society determined the rule: you are not to talk about your ex with your new partner. But I figure that’s more about the post-break-up feelings – either you’re talking about them too much because you want to be back together, or you’re complaining so much about them and/or how it ended. Neither of those situations is great for the new person to have to listen to.
But I wonder exactly how compulsory is this relationship ‘rule’ is supposed to be?
What if you want to know about someone’s ex? Are you allowed to ask questions that encourage someone to break the ex-silence rule?
My mind has been on the Ex-Files. As in… Ben’s Ex-Files.
He’s shared some of the stories with me, but not all of them, and not all of the information I’ve recently become privy to was welcome. As an Orist, there are just some things you do not need to know.
But all the same, I’ve been obsessing about the stories pre-Ben&me – the Prequels, if you will.
It’s not about whether he might go back to any of the exes if given the opportunity – he just doesn’t seem the type (please don’t laugh at me for how lame and naive that sounds).
It’s not about discovering any possible flaws of his – because, as we’ve established, he seems fairly perfect at the moment.
It’s not about learning the mistakes those girls may have made so I can strive to be the perfect girlfriend – I might be insecure, but I’m still my own person: I’ll do what I want to do; I ain’t putting down any eggshells to walk on.
Trouble is, I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on the source of this neurotic obsession with Ben’s exes.
If you’ve not experienced this before, it’s the kind of obsessing that comes with crushes (particularly of the unrequited love category), or in the post-break-up analysis phase: either you just want to know them better, and that includes knowing their past and their people too; or you’re wanting to know their every move to be able to determine whether they’re happy without you and/or if they’ve moved on already.
It’s not quite as stalkerish as it sounds… Ultimately, social media does not help in this phase.
I think I’ve figured it out, on a few levels.
Partly, I’m jealous. I want to know him better, and I wish I could have been with him a million years ago when we first met and it could have saved us both some heartache and trouble if we’d known where this was going. (But I’ve learned things along my own path, and we weren’t parts of each others’ lives then, so I do just have to let this one go).
I’m impatient. And I like stories. They’re pretty much the point of human existence – the stories of our short, insignificant lives. It’s why movies and books are wonderful. But since works of fiction have endings already, they don’t invade and persist in my thoughts quite as much.
And finally, I realised… I’ve not been with someone with a history before. Not for long enough anyway. Mitchell, and Scott were firsts in that category; Peter and I had been friends long enough that I knew his already; Alex, I didn’t get to be with long enough; and Arni, I didn’t want to be with long enough.
I don’t know whether I should try to explain this to Ben – that since he’s the first guy I’ve been with whose stories I don’t know well enough, I can’t help but try to find out more. Maybe then he’ll understand why this is a topic that exacerbates my neuroticism; and maybe he’ll share more of his history with me.
But do I even have the right to know any of Ben’s stories that may have come before this one with me in it? (And just as importantly – do I even want to know?).
Histories are complicated. They help shape who we are. But that doesn’t mean you need to know and understand any part of history to be better equipped to tackle the future.
This is all especially difficult when you’ve got someone who isn’t big on communicating.
I don’t think I have any theories today; it’s all riddles. Which makes me think of Doctor Who:
“The Silence will fall when the question is asked.”
– Dr O.