Don’t Give Up, Scarlett!

The idea that we aren’t suited to monogamous relationships has been a subject of debate for ages. Hopelessful romantics will argue that not only are we suited to monogamy, a monogamous relationship is the best possible relationship attainable. On the flip side are those who’ll claim monogamy is an unnatural dynamic for us. Things like our biological imperative are frequently referenced as rationale by not just polyamorists, hedonists, and sensualists, but by everyday folk who’ve simply had difficulty making monogamy work.

This topic was in the news recently thanks to a candid interview Playboy magazine published with actress and chanteuse Scarlett Johansson in a bit of shrewdly deliberate Valentine’s Day counter programming. E! News expanded on the topic in an article that quotes a number of other celebrities like Ethan Hawke, Cameron Diaz, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, who voice support for the contention that monogamy just isn’t workable.

monogamywordcloudMs. Johansson, while respectful and reverent of the theoretical concept of monogamy, claims it’s “hard work” for “everyone.” Then makes the leap that her claim “proves that it’s not a natural thing.”

Ms. Johansson has been married twice, so undoubtedly a lifelong monogamous relationship is something to which she aspires. But her extrapolating her own inability to achieve one into it being an unnatural concept for everyone is both presumptuous and laughable. She hasn’t done it, so therefore it’s not doable. Really?

For sure there are probably plenty of people out there, both in and out of monogamous relationships, who either wholeheartedly agree with the “unnatural” characterization or who are open to the possibility that Ms. Johansson is onto something.

For what it’s worth, here’s where I come down on the subject of monogamy. I can understand why a high percentage of people feel it’s unattainable or unsustainable, that it’s ongoing hard work, a grind. Even unnatural. If one isn’t in a relationship characterized by True Love, not in an Everything relationship, then the bottom line is that it will absolutely be an effort to remain in that relationship in a monogamous way. Imagine perpetually trying to get the square peg in the round hole. It just ain’t happening, no matter how hard you try. To varying degrees, that applies to a pretty big percentage of romantic relationships.

The heart seeks not only love but True Love. That’s the romantic Holy Grail. The Powerball Trillion-Dollar Jackpot. To realize a True Love/Everything relationship, you’ve got to be willing to define exactly what’s important to you in a partner and a relationship, then, when you manifest/meet that person, be willing open your heart fully without expectation. You gotta give big love to hope to receive it. That’s just how it works.

From my own personal experience, as someone who’s been married and divorced, and nearly married a second time before finding True Love in middle age, I can assure you that monogamy and True Love are a seamless whole, inextricably connected to each other. Monogamy isn’t “work” when you’re in an Everything relationship. It’s the opposite:  your connection to your partner is so deep, strong, and ever growing that the notion of other possibilities is absolutely irrelevant.

It’s surely the case that for celebrities like Ms. Johansson and Mr. Hawke there’s no shortage of opportunity, of possibility, available to them. Perhaps that reality undercuts the conviction and fearlessness required to open the heart fully, be truly vulnerable and exposed, since those choices carry with them the risk of failure. With so much opportunity, there’s less motivation to step outside the comfort zone, to risk rejection. Why freely offer more of yourself than you’re comfortable offering, when someone who you consider a perfect match is happy with whatever you’re willing to offer? Oh, it turns out they’re actually not down with your limits? Adios, then! Who’s next?

To reiterate, just opening up your heart to someone doesn’t mean you’ll end up in a True Love relationship with them. There’s always the chance of rejection. But if you want an Everything relationship, want True Love, you’ve gotta give everything of yourself. No holding back. And do so without expectation of reciprocation, by the way. Hope for it, yes. Never expect it.

True Love is out there, Scarlett! Don’t let cynicism and doubt forged by past experience obscure that truth. Don’t let fear keep you from enjoying an Everything relationship. And for anyone in a relationship who agrees with the idea that monogamy might not be natural, that it’s perpetual hard work, maybe it’s time to evaluate whether you’re stuck in the square peg/round hole dynamic, bearing in mind that there are no right reasons to remain in the wrong relationship.

From Russia, With Love!

I visited Russia this month, spending a week in Moscow. My 16-year-old daughter is a student at Bolshoi Ballet Academy there, and since she had a couple weekdays off in observance of International Women’s Day, we took in a lot of the city’s sights together.

The highlight of my first night:  a visit to Red Square, a place steeped in significance and history. Arguably the most eye-popping building on the square is St. Basil’s Cathedral, with its multi-colored domed spires. Completed in 1561, it’s an impressive structure — easily one of the most iconic buildings in the world.St. Basil's Cathedral - "Love-ly!" – Version 2

Architectural cred and visual splendor aside, what really moved me  about it was something totally unexpected and something I might not have observed if I first visited Red Square in the daytime:  love, in symbolic form. See if you can spot it in the main image before looking at the close-up image below.

Perhaps it’s just whimsy but I’d like to believe that the universal symbol for love was a planned aspect of the design. “Whimsy” because there obviously were no electric lights illuminating the cathedral at night in the 16th Century. But since the front side of the structure faces roughly northwest, I’d like to think that at a certain time of year when the sun is out, the same effect can be seen during daytime.

IMG_1163

Do I have a point? Yep, I do. Love is everywhere. When you set aside fear and embrace it, you’re not only constantly reminded of that utterly heartlifting fact, you manifest it everywhere you go.

 

Don’t Sweat the Disconnects

There’s nothing like the feeling of full, hearts-blasted-wide-open connectedness with your romantic partner. It’s a feeling that gets right to the core of an Everything relationship.

When you don’t allow fear to prevent your heart from opening fully, that openness welcoming your partner to do the same, you’ll both experience the awesome, transformative power of True Love, as communication in all forms is flowing at 100%.

Does that mean that those of us lucky enough to be in an Everything relationship feel this elevating and energizing flow of maximum connectedness all the time, 24-7? Nope. Why? Because we’re human. We’re individuals who sometimes get wrapped up in and distracted by our own shit, our own emotions. And sometimes in those moments our hearts aren’t open fully. We say, do, or don’t say or don’t do something that causes our partner to withdraw a bit, to dial back the openness of their heart somewhat.

The triggers for these moments of disconnect usually aren’t intentional. But they still happen. A lot less frequently in Everything relationships than in non-Everything relationships, for sure. But a suggestion that Everything couples never experience disconnects would be flat-out wrong.

IMG_0005

What does characterize Everything relationships, though, is the partners’ desire and ability to move past momentary disconnects, to recognize that when one happens it doesn’t mean that the relationship is somehow no longer quite as strong and pure as it was before the disconnect arose. That, believe it or not, moving past and beyond disconnects further strengthens and expands Love, offering valuable teaching moments contributing to individual growth that can only be a boost to the relationship.

If you’re feeling that you and your partner are spending more time in disconnects than you are enjoying the bliss of full-blast connectedness, look inward and ask yourself if you’re opening your heart fully and fearlessly. If you are, consistently, and that’s not welcoming your partner to do the same, or if you’re just not willing to do so, it’s possible that your Everything relationship is still out there for you.

If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying an Everything relationship, or are in a newer relationship that you feel is headed in that direction, when disconnects happen, and they will, don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t over-analytically explode a granular thing into a potential indictment of your relationship. The uniqueness and power of what you and your partner are lucky enough to share will rocket you through the occasional disconnect and actually bolster your togetherness in the process.

Happy Valentine’s Day! If you didn’t catch it, here’s my Valentine’s Day post from last year.

Love or fear–it’s your choice…

George Addair, a contemporary thought leader and devout advocate for the betterment of the human condition who passed away in 2012, is known for a short, powerful quote about mankind’s self-limiting nature:

“Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear.”

While myriad quotes are variations on this core idea (and it’s likely that Addair’s quote itself is his spin on notions advanced by his influencers), in my opinion this one’s noteworthy for the blast radius of its impact. Get past fear and what you want is available to you. Elemental, potent, and true.

fear-and-love

Given our use of the term Everything, applying a bit of reductivism to Addair’s already-concise quote yields:

“Everything is on the other side of fear.”

What fears prevent people from connecting with their Everything, their True Love relationship?

There are easily as many as grains of sand on a beach. A few headliners:  I’m not good-looking enough. Not wealthy enough. Too old. Not witty enough, thin enough, smart enough, educated enough, charming enough, worldly enough, fit enough. I don’t have a flashy enough car, a nice enough house, a great career, a stylish enough wardrobe, enough hair…

The above are just the tippety-top of the tip of the iceberg. They can pertain to people who are either in a non-Everything relationship, or who aren’t in a relationship at all.

Then there are fears specific to those who are in non-Everything relationships but afraid to end them. A small sampling:

What if I don’t find someone better and end up alone? Will my kid/s suffer if I leave my marriage? Will I be able to make ends meet on my own? Will I be viewed as “damaged goods?” Will leaving devastate my husband/wife?

Fear’s primary value is to keep us alive. But beyond fight-or-flight, life-or-death situations, paying undue heed to fear results in simply existing, instead of living. The tagline of my favorite film, “The Shawshank Redemption,” is:

Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.

A slight tweak yields a statement specific to love, to the possibility of loving at 10/10 and experiencing that awesome reality:

Fear can hold you captive. Love can set you free.

I acknowledge that fear is a pervasive thing, and difficult to move past. Yet if you aspire to an Everything relationship, yearn for a Love so pure and True that it will empower and elevate you and everything you touch, forever, you have to be willing to let go of the fears that are holding you back.

If you’re in a non-Everything relationship, doing so could mean turbulence, disruption, conflict, instability, compromises in terms of lifestyle, and many other things that may prove challenging. But there is no other way to Everything, to True Love.

If you choose to remain paralyzed by fear–and it is a choice–understand a simple truth: you are keeping yourself and everyone connected to your present circumstances from the possibility of a better reality.

I chose not to let my existence be ruled by fear. And by so doing I found my Everything with an amazing woman. If you’re hoping to find your Everything, your True Love, you have the same choice ahead of you. It’s only by letting go of fear that you’ll be able to be at and give your best–to offer Everything to another.

And guess what? It’s only when you’re willing to offer Everything that you’ll receive it. The giving and receiving of Everything is so singularly, incomparably amazing that I’m committed to helping others experience it themselves. That’s why this blog exists.

Does this mean that you’ll need to step outside of your comfort zone? If it’s Everything that you seek, almost certainly. A couple paragraphs up I mentioned that the ongoing choice of fear can keep you and those connected to you from the possibility of a better reality. For most of us, confronting fear decidedly means stepping out of our comfort zones.

So is there a chance that you could decide to step outside of your comfort zone, commit to live in and as love, yet not find your Everything? I can only speak of my own experience, and based on that my recommendation is that you open your heart and let it guide you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what happens.

Hopelessly in Love? Huh?

It’s possible that, on occasion, I can get overly semantical about figures of speech, phraseology, etc., but I’ve had something on my mind since falling head over heels into my  relationship Everything: why in the hell did the expression “hopelessly in love” become a fixture in the vernacular of romance?

Well, we’d certainly have to assign some responsibility to rock band Journey, whose song “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly in Love)” hit #2 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart in 1981 and sort of blasted the concept far and wide.

So what’s my beef with the expression? Well, because it’s such a complete negative (is there really any way to construe positivity out of the word “hopeless” ?), quite simply I think it doesn’t apply whatsoever to an Everything relationship–a powerful, heartlifting reality that speaks of unbounded positivity and hope, not hopelessness.

hopefully-word

When you’re experiencing your Everything, one thing you’ll notice is that expectation regarding your partner and relationship is replaced by hope (a topic for another post). And that the purity and open-heartedness of hoping is a consistently amazing, energizing, enlivening feeling. How? Well, because you inhabit a blissful state of ongoing hopefulness that your continued offering of your unique gifts perpetuates your and your partner’s Everything. Again–in a way that’s entirely free not only of expectation, but of need.

And the best way to continue enjoying your Everything is to give fully of yourself and your unique gifts, hoping that they’ll be received and cherished by your soulmate.

So the purest, truest relationship you can aspire to is literally plastered with hopefulness. Constantly. And hopefulness is, of course, the antithesis of hopelessness.

Hopefully someone’ll drop a song called “Hopefully in Love!” that describes an existing, thriving relationship.

Everything Awaits

Everything, the sum total of your specific, no-compromise desires in a romantic partner and relationship, is not simply going to land in your lap because you made the effort to define and visualize it.

It’s virtually certain that to experience Everything you will have to live up to your utmost best, pushing through to the edge of your authentic expression of yourself, fully present, free, and fearless. Hoping but never expecting. After all, it’s Everything or Nothing, right? Not Everything for Nothing.

In fact, it’s only when you’re fully willing and able to give everything that you’re ready for your Everything.

The Two Basic Reasons Relationships Don’t Result in Everything

So you’ve met a phenomenal person you’re quite romantically excited about and vice-versa, and things are off to a strong start. While there are infinite possible ways to meet and begin a relationship, once underway there are only two possible eventual outcomes: you either end up together forever, enjoying Everything, or you don’t.

While there can be myriad variations of and details associated with “you don’t”–all those whys and why nots–there really are only two underlying scenarios that can lead to that outcome. From the guy’s perspective, they are:

Wrong girl, Right time

Wrong girl, Wrong time

Completing the spectrum of scenarios that either lead to Everything or don’t, from the standpoint of a guy seeking his Everything, the desired outcome is obviously:

Right girl, Right time

Anyone who thinks in a symmetrical/completist manner may wonder if a possible variation is missing on the non-Everything side, namely Right Girl, Wrong Time–the culturally ingrained “the one who got away.”

There isn’t. Quite simply, if you don’t wind up together in a lifelong relationship characterized by True Love, she was not the Right Girl for you, period. No matter that you were together for a few years, were married, have children together, etc. She is not the one who got away. The Right Girl does not “get away.” In other words, having your Right Girl is fully synonymous with having your relationship Everything. Except in the case of an untimely passing, one cannot have had Everything.

Each of the two non-RR scenarios has variations:

  • In WR, you could realize she’s not your Everything, or she could realize you’re not her Everything. Or both of those things could happen. This could occur soon after the start of a new relationship, or after a lot of water’s gone under the bridge. In either case, you are ready for your Everything—she’s just not it.
  • In WW there are a few permutations, from her being the wrong girl at the wrong time from your perspective to the opposite, to a mix of those.

RR is quite straightforward. It is, simply, Everything in both directions, i.e. True Love. Crack out the Cristal and toast to your mutual good fortune!

Zooming in a bit on the concept of Wrong time, there can obviously be a range of considerations that make the timing component unfavorable. You or she could be dealing with a health issue, an emotionally all-consuming family situation, a period of intense financial difficulty (this characterized my situation for several years, during which, in addition to having scant resources for dating, I also questioned the likelihood of an RR situation arising for me). It also sometimes happens that you meet a potential soulmate while either you or she isn’t entirely unattached, relationship wise.

For guys, it should be fairly evident that the most difficult scenario is the version of Wrong Girl, Right Time where the sense that she’s not the right girl comes from her, not from you. Regardless of the specifics of a given WR situation, though, the result can be a dynamic where you, she, or both of you are biding time, i.e. hanging onto what you can of the relationship while you, she, or both of you keep an eye out for what’s next. We’ll cover the perils of biding time in a future post.

While the WR and WW scenarios are sometimes easily identifiable, or manifest quickly, it can also take time for what you thought/hoped was a RR relationship to resolve into either WR or WW. This can take mere weeks…or decades. Basically, those of us looking for Everything may view new relationships through RR-colored lenses–we so very much want to find our Everything!–especially in cases where we haven’t precisely defined the nature of the Everything we seek.

Similarly, RR can also take time to congeal. In cases where RR becomes the outcome, sometimes you may know it in your heart of hearts from early on but that awareness is not as quick in coming for her, vice-versa, or you both arrive at that conclusion, and not always simultaneously, after being together for a while. There’s no preferred path to RR. Here, as in most things, results trump process.

While the “True Love at first sight” version of RR is clearly the most unabashedly romantic and whimsical, RRs arising from that rather rare circumstance are functionally no different than RRs that take a bit more time to manifest.

Since Everything can’t be forced, it’s best not to over-analyze your relationship to the point where you suck all enjoyment out of the present moment, and/or apply undue pressure on your potential soulmate, yourself, and the situation in general. Because by doing so you run the risk of turning a potential RR into a WR. Instead, be true to yourself and follow your heart. If she’s your Everything, and vice-versa, this approach will yield positive results.

image credit: http://www.sharonebardavid.com

Love in the Time of Smartphones

Doesn’t take a genius to to realize that the smartphone and related mobile devices (iPads and such) have facilitated countess aspects of existence, in the process becoming indispensably useful for a whole lotta people. Comparisons to sliced bread may be warranted. In terms of things amorous, from looking for a mate to keeping in touch with the love of your life when you’re apart, smartphones and their extensive ecosystem of apps have had a tremendous and, in my opinion, enormously positive impact.

Dating-related apps, from mobile extensions of web-based platforms like match.com, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish to mobile-only or -centric services like Tinder and Zoosk, make the process of finding a mate convenient, ultra portable, and conceivably “always on.” And once you’ve found that special someone, options for staying connected abound in the mobile universe.

In the early stages of our togetherness, my soulmate, Lien, and I unquestionably leveraged the power, convenience, flexibility, and privacy of our smartphones to accelerate our already quickly deepening relationship.

First and foremost, a general admonishment: don’t use smartphones/apps/etc. as a substitute for more intimate types of communication. Even when–especially when!–what you have to communicate is difficult, emotionally loaded, etc.

Ranking the types of communication, the best is in-person, obviously. Nothing, nothing, nothing can or ever will surpass the connectedness of communicating when you’re physically together. One notch down would be talking on the phone (including video chatting via FaceTime, Skype, etc.), and another step down from phone/video chats would be messaging and other communication-related apps.

Messaging apps, including standard text messaging, are fantastic ways to stay in touch when things like work/etc. keep you apart. Via these handy tools, you can send messages like this to your soulmate:

Hey, Beautiful!  Hope you’re having a great day!  Came across this quote and it made me smile: “Someday, someone might love you in a way you’ve always wanted.  If that someday was yesterday, LEARN; if that someday is tomorrow, HOPE; if that someday is today, CHERISH.”

In fact, I sent the above to Lien. At least I thought I did. Actually, in my first-ever text-messaging misfire, I accidentally sent it to–wait for it–my ex wife! D’oh! I realized my boneheaded mistake the moment I pressed the “send” key in the iPhone’s Messages app. And believe me, for a split second I seriously considered snapping my phone in half to prevent the misfire from landing in my ex’s Messages inbox!

She and I have been divorced for going on twelve years now, and fortunately we have a very amicable relationship that revolves around our wonderful teenage daughter, so I wasn’t deeply concerned that my misfire would have a negative impact on our important post-relationship relationship. But at that point, since it was rather early on in my relationship with Lien, neither my daughter nor my ex were aware I was seriously dating someone.

Fortunately, my ex chose to focus on the humor of the situation. As somewhat of a perfectionist, though, the fact that I’d committed such a blunder didn’t sit well with me. I mean, how fucking hard is it to look to the top of your messaging window to make sure you’re sending your message to the person you want to send it to before you send it? Sheesh.

Yet I’m sure virtually everyone who packs a smartphone has misfired a text message at some point. It’s easy to do. You’re thinking of the person you want to message, open the messaging app, where there’s usually an ongoing thread open already, type out your thought, hit “send,” and–oh, shit!! If you realize your mistake during/immediately after the sending process, that is.  To me, that’s the less, well, bad type of misfire. The other, and in my opinion worse type being when the unintended recipient alerts you to your mistake.

At any rate, I was hellbent on not making that mistake twice, at least not with potentially intensely personal, intimate, sometimes risqué messages. I figured there had to be other messaging apps out there and, after some research and field trials, suggested to Lien that we use only Kik to communicate via IM. I had one contact in Kik, and so did she. The chances of a misfire (assuming, of course, we remembered to open Kik instead of Messages): zero. Nada.

Pretty quickly we realized that the particular app we chose, Kik, (not to sound like an advertorial for Kik) offers some cool features that Apple’s Messages app doesn’t. Like the ability to send finger-drawn sketches, and a vast, searchable database of sendable images and GIFs.

IMG_6486

The visual component offered ways to add humor, tenderness and, occasionally, a perfect non-written way of communicating thoughts and feelings. So what started out as a mechanism to preempt the embarrassment of text-message misfires quickly ended up being an unexpected enhancement to our overall communication, boosting our connectedness when work and our other responsibilities prevented us from being together.

I sent Lien this unabashedly romantic “on bent knee” image a few months into our relationship, and it was received with with the heartlifting reply: I accept! By the way, the willingness to put yourself out there expressively, with something akin to a child’s free spiritedness and unwillingness to see anything other than the desired outcome, is a distinct hallmark of True Love–when that dynamic is happening in both directions, that is.

Lemme tell ya, it’s a pretty freakin’ awesome thing to be in your late 40s and be utterly excited about the process of creating and sending your beloved a heartfelt, finger-drawn sketch professing your genuine feelings. I recommend doing everything you possibly can to be in that position, if you’re not already there.

Needless to say, I did a figurative quintuple backflip when, shortly after I’d sent her the “on bent knee” sketch and she accepted my proffered heart, she sent me this “holding hands” sketch. It resonated for me on many levels, including the detail of the yellow dress, as she was wearing and looked absolutely stellar in a fantastic yellow dress the very first time we saw each other. 

Kik works well for me and Lien, but there are lots of other apps like it out there, including but hardly limited to What’s App, Viber, WeChat, Skype, ooVoo, and MessageMe.

Some of these offer free voice chatting in addition to instant messaging, synchronization with computers, which is a boon for anyone who spends a good chunk of the day on a computer and does better typing on a full-size keyboard than the tiny digital tiles comprising most smartphone keypads these days. Each of these apps has has its own look, feel, and twists on basic functionality.

Beyond the spectrum of apps that are more related to identifying a mate and facilitating your relationship via enhanced ways to communicate directly, there are turn-based asynchronous games like Words With Friends, Draw Something, Letterpress, SongPop, and more that provide fun and competition-oriented ways to stay connected.

I feel this post would be incomplete if I didn’t mention what some might consider the negative side of the enhanced connectedness afforded by smartphones, namely the facilitation of what I’ll call extra-relationship romantic/sexual activities. While there’s no doubt that folks can and do use smartphones and other mobile devices in ways that cause distress for their wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc., my feeling is that it’s wrongheaded to label these activities inherently “bad.” After all, it’s not the smartphone that caused whatever problems a given person has in their relationship that makes them look outside of it for…whatever it is they’re not getting from said relationship, is it?

And, ultimately, since the potential for a relationship characterized by infidelity to represent Everything to both parties is slight, in one sense technology that could expedite the end of a non-Everything relationship and afford both parties another shot at finding their respective Everythings with other people ultimately can only be considered beneficial.

Bottom line: smartphones and a profusion of apps, many if not most available for free, are kick-ass tools to help you connect with that special someone and enhance your togetherness as your relationship develops and flourishes. If you’re dating with an eye toward finding your relationship Everything–or if you’re fortunate enough to be enjoying your Everything–and don’t yet have a smartphone, definitely consider getting one.  If you’ve got one already, I wholeheartedly encourage you to look into apps that could empower you in your quest and enrich your connectedness.

Hard to see how you and your future (our current) beloved wouldn’t benefit.

 

Discussing Past Relationships

While we all have the desire to be attractive to the opposite sex (those of us who are heterosexual, that is), and for members of the opposite sex to know that we are, in fact, attractive to their kind, be sensitive to how the words you’re using to describe your exes, what about them appealed to you, how you felt about them, etc. may be received by your partner.

As a guy, clearly it’s an ego stroke (self-applied) for a drop-dead-gorgeous woman you’re dating to register the fact that you were previously involved with another attractive woman (or women). On one level this can be a positive, even productive bit of knowledge, since to a certain extent it can be validating of her attraction to you. But don’t overdo it. Also—and it hopefully goes without saying—specific mentions of sex you had in the past could turn into a minefield you may find yourself trapped in for a while.

At a certain point in time in the development of a relationship characterized by True Love, any topic can be discussed openly, productively and in a way that further fortifies your connectedness, but even in cases of True Love, the establishment of a safe, loving, accepting, honest environment wherein both parties are at liberty to discuss anything typically doesn’t happen overnight.

image via savorhomeblog.com

image via savorhomeblog.com

Does this imply that you should plead the 5th if asked about past relationships? Absolutely not. Just be mindful of the possibility that, although it’s not entirely rational and is typically sub/unconscious, a woman you’re getting serious about may—understandably, as she is, after all, a complex emotional being—on some levels want to believe that she’s the only woman who’s ever mattered to you, whom you’ve loved, etc.

Additionally, the more praiseworthy you are of your exes, in whatever regard, the greater the chance that she will wonder about the sincerity of your praise for her in those areas…or your lack of praise in those areas. Or whether your attention might be diverted by someone else who’s strong in those areas.

Likewise, we guys can be susceptible to these perfectly natural feelings and insecurities. After all, we want to be special, to stand head and shoulders above those who came before us and be so perfect for our prospective soulmate that there’s no chance she’d ever be open to the temptations of another guy.

But I submit to you that wishing your beloved had never loved anyone before she loved you, or that she never had sex before you, or climaxed with another guy—or a boundless number of other actions/thoughts/feelings that are important to you—is entirely and utterly counterproductive.

While I’m not saying you should run out and have a tee shirt made emblazoned with “Ask me about the love of my life’s ‘pre-me’ orgies!” the reality is that it is precisely her individual experiences, and yours, that brought you together so powerfully. Had one thing been different for her, or for you, or even had they happened in a different order, it’s probable that you wouldn’t have connected the way you did.

Think about that for a moment.

So rather than harbor any negative feelings or insecurities about her past, you should (privately—no tee shirts!) be thankful for and genuinely celebrate it. And while the reverse also obviously applies, again, use good judgment and sensitivity when covering this type of potentially loaded ground, especially when your relationship is “early days.”