Wednesday, 10 September 2014

To My Partner's Ex: Butt Out

This was written in response to Kirsten Corley's piece, "To The Girl Who Replaced Me, Please Take Care Of Him", published on Elite Daily.

Dear Ex,

You approached me in a spirit of giving advice, so it seems only fair that I extend you the same courtesy.

I’m not here to tell you how or where or why your ex and I got together, because I doubt you want to hear that. I am here to tell you that what’s happening is between me and him, and that I’m deeply uncomfortable with the way you’re projecting.

Ex, I am not a “replacement” for you. To call me that is to assume that he thinks of both of us as objects with a more or less analogous function, which doesn’t chime at all well with your claim that he falls for a person’s self rather than their appearance.

Whilst your letter hasn’t exactly filled me with warm fuzzy feelings in your direction, prior to reading it I had no particular feelings about you at all. Like you say, he’s not a big talker. I know you exist. I know what you look like from the pictures. I know you had a few shared interests. I assume from the tenor of your writing that you file romantic comedies in the 'Documentaries' section of your media library, and that you have replaced your DVD of The Notebook at least once due to wear and tear. That’s it.

I will never understand why people love this film so much.
He can text you and talk to you on Facebook if he damn well wants to, because he’s an independent adult human being and can make his own choices and form his own boundaries. Actually, let’s talk about that for a second. You assure me - I imagine with a knowing and mystical smile, because that’s how the text reads - that there are reasons why he won’t always say and do what I want him to. You’re right, but they’re a lot simpler than you’re making out. It’s because he’s an independent adult human being. If I wanted something to look cute and repeat stock phrases at me, I wouldn’t get a partner, I’d get a Furby.

It’s early days. He might not fall in love with me, and I might not fall in love with him. That’s OK. Please don’t presume to tell me how I’ll feel if those things happen, or how he’ll feel and how I should react. I’m not you. It might not occur to me to be scared when he cries. Humans do that, even male ones.

We might not do the same things together that the two of you did, because you and I have different interests and different approaches to life. Don’t write your narrative onto our relationship. It’s not good for you. Clearly you still have feelings for him, and imagining him doing all the things with me that he used to do with you is only going to make you sad. Take a bit of time to yourself to grieve it, and then let it go. Write it down, but maybe don’t share it on the Internet while the feelings are still raw.

I’m also a little concerned about the things you think are “my job”. I am dating this man. I am not his mother, or his life coach, or his therapist. These expectations you seem to have of me on his behalf are ill-conceived and not terribly healthy, and if he expects the same things of me as you do then this relationship is going to be short. I’ll support him and be kind, like I would with anyone I love, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tolerate his drunken outbursts or shrug my shoulders in the face of his emotional repression.

I will never love this man the way you do. You have him on some kind of a pedestal, and that scares me. If I fall in love with him, I will love the human he is and love him in spite of certain things he does. If he treats me badly - as it sounds like he did you, to be honest - I will leave him, because do you know what? I want to be loved the way I deserve, too. We’re not NPCs in the video game of this man’s life; we’re player characters in the grand MMORPG of the universe.

Though maybe we should keep to different servers for the time being.
For all that I found your letter intrusive and more than a little bit creepy, I do wish you well. Please love yourself more than this. And please, in future, learn when to keep your thoughts to yourself.


Not a Spare Part