Your Ex Is Perfect And Your Memory Is Bad
I wonder why we question our judgement long after relationships end. Not all of them, but some. Actually, maybe just one or two.
There's the relationship that was destined to be special because things were just...different. But it ended. In the thick of it, ending it was the right thing to do, but now it's years later, you're single, thinking back and, well, wondering if you made a bad call.
Then there's the friendship that never sprouted wings. It could've been special too, but something was always off. At least, that's what you told yourself back then. But now, you're wondering if you missed an opportunity.
I'm thinking back to earlier this year when a long, quiet, on again, off again friendship/relationship/something-ship ended once and for all. Undramatically. As undramatic as closing the dryer door after taking out the last of the laundry.
My memory of the relationship gets hazy as the months go by. My mind romanticizes the relationship in a last-scene-of-Love-Jones kind of way. All the good memories are a mix of aromatic incense and John Coltrane. All the bad memories play out in my mind less like hurt and more like little sexy struggles.
This is dangerous because when my memory recalls remixed versions of my life, particularly when they're remixed with intense shades of joy, it makes me question my judgement. It makes me literally question myself.
Did I handle this all wrong? How bad was it really? Was I unrealistic? Could I have accepted that situation and dropped that one expectation? Did I blow it?
Memory, the faculty by which the mind stores and remembers information, has a remarkable way of causing you to doubt your ability to reason, your careful consideration, and ability to make healthy decisions.
Can you relate to this?
You're a steady person, so there's every reason to believe that you made a wise decision. But now you're vacillating because your memory is failing you. You're having difficulty remembering the bad times. You simply cannot connect to the pain or disappointment you felt in those deciding moments. You're so far removed from it that your ex seems perfect and you seem borderline silly.
If you've never found yourself questioning your good senses, you're lucky. If you have, the self-doubt that seeps in can be excruciating, but you're not crazy.
According to Psychology Today, "Researchers have found that the mind is biased toward positive emotional memories—as negative emotions fade faster. Happier emotions have a longer shelf life in our memories."
That's why the memory of how they made you laugh is so strong while the memory of how they didn't keep their word is weak, on the off chance that bad memories even rear their heads.
You remember the good qualities and the good times as if that's all that ever existed, but trust the person you were back then. In the moment you had a choice to make. You chose to disengage. It was the right choice for who you were and what you needed.
We question our judgement as time passes and I think it's good to challenge ourselves in this way. But go easy on yourself and remember that our blissful memories are fallible and our exes were not perfect.
Photo credits: Maresa Smith ft artist Richard Harris via Death To Stock Photo