I once dated someone who constantly said “don’t compare me to your ex boyfriends.” Now, to be clear: I never openly compared him to an ex. Rather, when we would get into an argument, he would say something to the extent of “well I bet you’d rather be with that teacher you used to date. I bet you’re thinking he was a lot more patient than I am!” and then, of course… “but don’t compare me to your ex!”
He probably said that because he knew that if I sat down and thought about it, I would realize that he was less stable, less sociable, and far more jealous than any of my exes. And you know what? I finally did sit down and think about that. And thank goodness for it.
I know you’re told to leave the past in the past and not to hold the wrongs of your exes against your current partner. And I absolutely agree with that. Don’t hold the wrongs of your exes against your current partner. But do hold your current partner at least up to the standards your last one met. Even though you’re not with your exes anymore, you were with them at one point for a reason—they did have some traits that you liked, and probably still like. So if you forget the past entirely…You might be tossing out some valuable information with it.
I like to consider the character traits of my exes as building blocks towards my best possible relationship. When you’re building the foundation for anything, there are bound to be a few shaky blocks. A few rotten ones, broken ones, and straight up dysfunctional ones. But you don’t knock the whole structure over and start from zero because of them.
I have been with a man who is patient. I have been with one who is sociable. I have been with one who is industrious, one who has an unmatchable sense of humor, and one with the communication skills equal to those of a therapist. I haven’t dated someone who is all of those things. Yet. But it’s easy when you’re with someone, and you’re afraid of being alone, to tell yourself, “well, maybe this is as good as it gets. Maybe I’ll never find a guy who is insert characteristic you’re looking for here.”
But if you look back at your exes, you’ll probably realize you can find a man who is that, because you already have. I’m not saying you should go back to those guys. But just think about them whenever you need a reminder that it is possible to find a man with the traits you are looking for.
That one boyfriend who was sensitive to being compared to exes wanted me to forget the past completely. He wanted me to look at him with “fresh” eyes, weighing his traits against…nothing. He wanted me to forget all reference points. But the truth is, I don’t have fresh eyes. They’ve seen a lot, and I’m grateful for that. It is good to compare. Your exes are living, breathing testaments to the fact that you can find a man who is x, y or z. You just haven’t found one who is x,y and z yet. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t out there.