Ghost Buster

Sometimes it can be like Pandora's Box-- better left unopened because, once disturbed, the results can be haunting. Yet despite the risk, those of us in a new relationship almost always open the box anyway. Why? We convince ourselves that we have the right to know. We think we need the information. Or, we are simply curious enough to want to know salacious details. So we do it. We open the box and release the spirits of those who were once a distant memory.

Being a person who now lives for present and future only, I never intended to broach the subject of the women in Max's past. Really, what was there to know? I have a past; Max has a past. However, a 6-hour ride in the Beamer provided me the perfect opportunity and ample time to grill Max on his ghosts of relationships past.

Prior to the trip, I spent no time wondering about Max's dating history because I'd been appropriately briefed on all the highlights. But just like opening Pandora's Box, once the questions started, there was no stopping me.

I can't say there was anything troublesome or unusual about Max's dating history. At 34, Max has had three serious relationships and one ex-wife. Actually, his relationship history seemed positively tame when compared to mine, even on the few trivial areas where we found similarity. Max had an ex-wife; I have ex-husband(s). Max had a salsa dancer; I had salsa dancer(s). I also appreciated and took as a good sign the fact that Max talked positively about all but one of the women in his past. "Honestly, I cannot say anything bad about her," Max would say. "She was a nice person. She had a good heart." I, in comparison, look back fondly on exactly ONE of my past boyfriends.

As our conversation progressed and Max took the time to answer my questions, I realized how appreciative I should be that Max has never scrutinized my past as it is more extensive and sordid than his. Let's face it. Any guy has reason to be a little spooked by me--an almost 40-year old, twice-divorcee turned serial dater. But Max doesn't care. He has his eye on the ghost of relationship future, not my past.

But the problem with resurrecting memories of those now departed, at least for me, was that I couldn't help but want to analyze and compare his past girlfriends to me. Questions became less quantitative (How long did you date?) and more qualitative (Was she pretty? Smart? A stylish dresser?). And when Max responded in the affirmative (Yes, she was pretty. Yes, she was smart), the insecure side of me desperately wanted to ask the next, inevitable, comparative question. Fortunately, I stopped the words from dribbling out of my mouth.

Fear of seeming insecure and childish, I asked nothing else and sat in quiet contemplation. Thanks to my relentless excavation and inquiry, I had a lot to think about. Before, I never even pictured Max with his old flames, but now I was haunted by apparitions of Max and the other women from his past.

Max seemed to instinctively understand why I was spooked. And even though he didn't believe in the ghosts of relationship past, Max knew what questions were left lingering, unasked, and unanswered. In a comforting gesture, Max responded to the growing silence by resting his arm around my shoulder. And without a word, he reassured me that he was happily being haunted by only one ghost--me.


utenzi said...

It seems to me that women are more prone to that backward looking comparing themselves to past relationships thing, Diane. But I could be wrong. Being a guy, I definitely have a bias on this as well as a lot more experience observing how women's minds work in this area than other guys.

In any case, there's little point in comparing yourself to previous women in Max's life--but you no doubt understand that. It's just hard to stop asking those questions once they start...

TamWill said...

I understand...I am a woman whom has tortured herself with the same rhetoric.

Once we ask questions and learn the answers it always sparks more questions and endless comparisons.

Don't worry Be Happy! :O)