Everyone has a romantic history. From little notes passed between desks at school, to the intense relationships in our adulthood where we thought we’d met “the one” at 19.

For many of us, those ended up not being the people we married, or shacked up with for life. But then, like the stories say, you have to kiss a certain amount of frogs before you get to the prince.

For me, I have two sets of exes: those who I would never want to see again (and who’ve, mostly and conveniently, left the country) and those with whom I have retained a close friendship, because our friendship ended up being more important than our romantic pursuits with each other.

I like to think that I’m a “nice ex”, in that I believe people come into our lives at a time for a reason.

And, whatever that reason may be for them arriving and/or leaving my life, it doesn’t mean I should hate them just because we’re not romantically linked anymore (although, if you have a good reason to never want to see them again, stick to it).

On that note, I’m willing to bet an ex of mine is reading this right now and thinking “yeah, you’re a coldhearted cow and I hate you still”…and that’s okay with me too.

I’ve been thinking about my past relationships recently, because I’ve been busy doing some serious head and heart-searching. I’m in a comfortable, loving and wonderful long-term relationship, yet I am violently aware that it was not always this way for me.

As I’ve meandered into my thirties, I’ve managed to unpack a lot of insecurities that swung around my neck for a long time.

This is mostly due to being with someone sensible, a healthy dose of being suddenly aware that I’m really beyond those insecurities age-wise and that – really – I wanted to be rid of a large amount of my personal baggage.

My point is, though – relationships, both romantic and friendship – often teach us more about ourselves than we actually realise.

As I’ve been taking a mental stock of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way, I’ve ended up being grateful to the guy who broke my heart one New Year’s Eve, because he taught me that by being “too intense” I would probably alienate people, and I’d have to be okay with that. I am.

I’m grateful for the ex who became my sworn enemy for two years after we broke up. We successfully avoided each other socially despite having mutual friends, for a quite a while. One night though, we ended up laughing at each other’s pursuits, and – ultimately – at ourselves. We’re very close friends now, and he’s stuck up for me many a time, and I for him.

I’m grateful to the guy who doted on my weaknesses and thought I “needed to be managed”. We – sadly - ended up in a far-too-long battle that nobody emerged victorious from but - I was able to walk away from relatively unscathed.

It was he who helped me to find a very deeply entrenched strong and personal voice that fought back, and made me strong. It is directly because of the lessons I had to learn from him that I wake up every day feeling strong.

I’m grateful to the man who constantly challenged me to do better, especially when I was too tired to even spell my own name. It was he who made me realise I was enough, just as I am, with or without anyone.

If you had the opportunity to thank an ex for something you learnt from them, what would it be?

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