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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

The ex-girlfriend. Dang, she packs a powerful punch. There you are, just ho humming along in blissful ignorance and BAM! Out of the blue, your new lovey dovey, moonlight and roses romance goes to hell in a hand basket. And it’s all thanks to the ex factor. Whether it be an ex-girlfriend, ex-boyfriend, ex-wife, ex-husband or even that person you went bowling with in 8th grade, ghosts of relationships past have a funny way of creeping up when you least expect them. And dang it, if they don’t throw a major wrench in your plans. Suddenly, you turn from a confident secure individual to a jealous neurotic fruit loop who overanalyzes every factor of the relationship. Take something as simple as your new love interest taking you out to dinner. You’re happily chatting along, munching on your mozzarella sticks when you spot the ex-girlfriend. And oh my lord, she’s heading straight for your table. She’ll smile, place her hand on your date’s arm and exclaim “Funny running into you here!” before she flips her hair and prances away. And of course she ignores you the entire time except for a brief once over in your general direction. And just like that, your evening is ruined. In the next 30 seconds your mind will go from sane to certifiable as you pick apart every aspect of the evening and convince yourself that the only reason he took you to that specific restaurant was because it used to be “their place” and “their table” and “their order” of flippin’ cheese sticks. The next stop on that crazy train line of thinking is that he’s calling the ex from the bathroom stall arranging to see her the second he drops you off at home. Heck, it was probably “their bathroom stall” to boot! (This is all hypothetical of course. Just an imaginary little scenario. Right? Right.) It’s amazing what the mere presence or even the mention of an ex can do to an otherwise normal person, especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. I just can’t help but wonder, when it comes to jealousy in relationships, just how much does the “ex-factor” factor in?
Before I begin what I am about to say, I feel as if I should offer a disclaimer. By all accounts, I am not a jealous person. Just on this side of cocky, I’ve always been under the impression that if you don’t want to be with me, don’t be with me. It’s really quite simple. But yet…something happened last week that called into question that line of thinking. I am still recovering from “The Incident”. The new guy and I were happily chatting along, rambling about the ins and outs of our day when it happened. We were saying our goodnights and the phone call was just short of the “No you hang up first, no you hang up first” nausea inducing variety when…brace yourselves now…he called me by his ex girlfriend’s name. Time seemed to stop for a moment as my mind took a second to catch up to what my ears had just heard. Sweet little innocent me had just been called the same name as the hateful, vengeful, manipulating ex girlfriend who has been portrayed as Satan come to Earth as woman. I sat in stunned silence for a moment, waiting for him to correct his mistake but the heck of it is…he didn’t even realize that he had done it. When I called him out on, ever so sweetly of course, he back peddled like…like…well, an analogy escapes me at the moment but let me tell you that man fell all over himself coming up with excuses like “Well, Matilda and Sarah sound the same so it was really an easy mistake baby” (names have been changed to protect the guilty) and my favorite, “At least no one was naked when I said it!” (You’ve got a point there, my friend.) The thing is, calling me by another woman’s name isn’t really that big a deal. It’s the reason behind it that matters to me. Was it really just an honest to goodness mistake? Or is he spending time talking to me and thinking of her? Regardless of his endless assurances, once the ex has popped up, you’re always going to wonder about the one who came before you.
My dearest friend has been married to her husband for ten years. They are your typical married couple, happy but not annoyingly so, affectionate but not where they need to get a room, argue about money and love their kids more than life itself. Typical. But they tell a story that most couples don’t. My friends had been married for just under a year when trouble started brewin’. My girlfriend’s ex boyfriend came into the picture, first with the offer of friendship but shortly with the offer of much much more. My girlfriend, let’s call her Jane, adamantly turned him down but didn’t want to tell her husband for fear of him going ape sh*t. However he’s a smart man and knew something was up. Instead of immediately confronting the ex, Jane’s husband placed a tape recorder under the seat in her car in hopes of hearing her cell phone conversations with said ex. When she got home from work that afternoon, he took the recorder from under her car, told her he loved her and that they would talk when he got home. Bless it, my girlfriend thought the next phone call she would get would be from the county jail. But instead of killing that man, her husband simply drove to her ex boyfriend’s house, played him the tape and told him that should he ever contact his wife again, he wouldn’t have to kill him, he would sue the pants off him for alienation of affection. The ex boyfriend was never heard from again. Problem solved. While I thought the whole thing was a bit nuts, my girlfriend was down right giddy. She loved the fact that her husband had a healthy dose of jealousy and not only fought for her, but fought for their relationship. They laugh about it and I swear, to this day they are one of the happiest couples I know. And it’s all because of an ex and a healthy dose of jealousy.
As I sit writing this I look back at my words realizing that I’m only telling half the story. No one wants to be that girl, constantly worrying and playing the jealousy card. But sometimes baggage from an old relationship carries into a new one and you don’t even realize it. Truth be told, my story is very similar to a lot of women. And men for that matter. I fell in love with a person who just couldn’t keep it zipped. Being cheated on is a feeling you can’t quite describe but in an instant, the one you love has just betrayed everything you hold so very dear. You try to move on and the last thing you want to do is punish the new man in your life for mistakes of the old one. However, the sudden appearance of an ex girlfriend can change all that. Before you know it, jealousy rears it ugly little head and I’m back to five years ago hearing that the man I love just cheated on me with his ex-girlfriend. That’s not something you just bounce back from. And I don’t know if I would want to.
Each relationship is an opportunity to start fresh. You get to learn each other’s idiosyncrasies, (yes, I had to Google the spelling but dang it, I like it) their funny little habits and what makes them tick. I’ve realized part of what makes me tick is that fact that when it comes to a man being fully committed to me, I might be a smidge bit insecure. Past relationships have taught me to be jealous but I have to have faith in the fact that this man is a good man, a kind man, and it would be unfair for me to punish him for the mistakes of the man before him. Besides, there is a reason she is an “ex” and a reason I’m the girlfriend. We’ll see how it goes…we just won’t be ordering cheese sticks on our next date.

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4 comments

  1. Mike

    Don’t worry about it. My brother generally calls his son “Scout” which is their dog’s name. Afterall, as a man I can say this: Women fall in love; men fall into “habit.”

  2. S.B. 2672 would have authorized the doctor-recommended medical use of marijuana for patients with debilitating medical conditions and rescheduled marijuana to Schedule II. Unfortunately, on February 1, like last year, the bill died in the *****Drug Policy Committee,***** without being heard, and the legislature adjourned on April 7.
    Remember this when you vote!!!!

  3. Hanna

    I feel like I’m reading a teenager’s poor attempt at writing a “Sex in the City” column. You are NOT Carrie! Try being yourself and choosing your own style of writing. Or stop asking these menial questions in the beginning if you are not going to answer them.
    Worst. Column. Ever.

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