This morning, as part of my pre-work routine, I logged onto Facebook and noticed it was my friend Joel’s birthday. As I was clicking over to his page to leave a “Happy birthday!” message on his wall, it suddenly occurred to me, Wait. That means it’s his birthday as well. My ex, that is. It had slipped my mind completely. It was the first year since we broke up that I had completely forgotten, where I didn’t have it on my mind for at least a few days, eager to use it as an excuse to email him—not because I wanted to get back together, mind you, but because I still was slightly invested in how he was doing and what he was up to. But this year, I forgot his birthday and wouldn’t have remembered if I hadn’t been reminded, inadvertently, by Facebook. As for using it as an excuse to email him? Meh. I have taxes to do.
It seems to me that forgetting an ex’s birthday is a pretty solid sign that you are over it. Over him, over the relationship, over the anger, over the heartbreak. Happy birthday, indeed! It took me a long while to get here, I’ll admit, but over the last few months I’ve noticed some other signs that I’ve officially closed the book on that relationship and how it ended.
Occasionally a friend or family member will drop some of mean-spirited remark about my ex and in the past I would have been inclined to engage. Now, when this happens, I usually either barely acknowledge the diss and then change the subject or I actually defend him. I mean, after all, I was with the dude for five years and I like to think I have good taste. Anger and resentment—emotions I was right to feel—no longer are clouding my judgment of the relationship and the man as a whole.
I haven’t been sexually attracted to my ex, even in theory, for a long time, but I would still feel pangs of romantic affection every time I came across photos of us or him, well after our breakup. Now when I see photos of us, it’s like looking at some other couple, who I like very much, but don’t relate to. And when I see photos of him now, a couple years older, I find myself thinking, Yeah, he’s cute. Doesn’t really wet my whistle, though.
Sometimes I wonder if I was initially drawn to my ex—who was nothing like the guys I had been interested in before—because of how different he was from my dad, with whom I had a tumultuous relationship at the time. Post-breakup, I definitely found myself swearing off his “type”—No more salesman! Preppy guys, be gone! While I do think I learned quite a bit about the importance of compatibility in different areas from that relationship, I don’t think it’s healthy to try to find love with the pain of what another love caused guiding you. The person I’m with now happens to be very different from my ex, but until I wrote that sentence just now, I hadn’t bothered to consider comparing them.
A few months ago, my ex stopped working for the company he had been at for a number of years. I knew he loved that job and when it became apparent that his leaving wasn’t of his own accord, I waited to feel a rush of glee. After all, when we broke up, I partially blamed his work environment for changing him and driving him away from him and/us. I wished on more than one occasion that he would lose his job and be taken down a few pegs, like our breakup had brought me down. But that feeling of schadenfreude never came. Instead, I just felt sort of bad for him, but also confident he would be okay—and I said as much when I expressed my regrets.
My ex started dating his coworker shortly after he called off our engagement, though I didn’t find out until many months later. To say I was angry and humiliated and heartbroken is an understatement. Getting dumped sucks, but it’s a special kind of pain to be dumped and then replaced as quickly and as easily as a used tampon. They are still together and, for a time, she became a bit of an obsession, as I was desperate to figure out who she was, what made her so special, and, most of all, what made her better than me, at least in his eyes. I’ve come to realize she isn’t better than me, but she is better for him. Whether she is the best woman for him? Well…
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