Ariana Grande’s song “Thank U, Next” is filled with iconic lyrics: “One taught me love/One taught me patience/And one taught me pain/Now I’m so amazing”; “Look what you taught me/And for that, I say/Thank you, next”; “I’m so fuckin’ grateful for my ex.” And while Ariana’s song is a banger and the idea of her forgiving her ex is a great sentiment, it’s often difficult to see an unsuccessful relationship as anything but a failure. But the truth of the matter is, despite how the relationship ended, whether mutually or…not so mutually…we can learn so much from our exes. We, too, can learn to say “Thank U, Next” just like Ariana. So, without further ado, here’s a letter to my ex, your ex, her ex, and his ex:
Let me start off this letter by telling you that I don’t hate you. In fact, I have found peace in the demise of our relationship. It helped to burn all remaining memories of you and to send your clothes that you left at my apartment to Goodwill. But after some soul searching, careful consideration, and many a drunken night spent trying to forget you, I’ve reached a place of peace and can finally write this letter to you, thanking you for everything you and our relationship have taught me.
You Taught Me About Conflict
We fought. We argued. We bickered. We spent mornings, afternoons, and evenings being annoyed with each other, giving each other the silent treatment. We said mean things to each other. We disrespected each other. And we did this over and over again. But through this relationship, I learned what complicated conflict looks like. Look, humans make mistakes, and they screw up, so naturally, people are going to fight. But what’s important is learning how to fight graciously and civilly. If it’s inevitable that couples are going to argue, then learning how to treat your partner with respect despite your frustrations is critical to being in a healthy relationship. Through our arguments, I often saw the worst part of me, someone who was mean and vengeful, and someone I didn’t recognize. But our relationship ended, and whether or not it was because of the arguing, I am challenging myself to take the lessons I’ve learned about conflict and apply them to my future relationships. So, thank you.
You Taught Me How To Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is a skill that can take years to master. And I’m definitely still learning. But our relationship taught me that if I don’t set boundaries, people will treat me however they want. Despite how hard, how uncomfortable, and how scary it can be, setting boundaries for yourself is all about fostering a healthier you. You teach people how to talk to you; you teach people how to treat you. In regard to our relationship, I had to have discussions with you about how I wished to be talked to and treated. And those conversations were incredibly hard. But beginning that process with you has made it easier to begin it with other people, in other relationships. I’ve practically become a professional at sticking up for myself and making my needs heard. So, thank you.
You Taught Me What I Should Expect From A Relationship
There were times when our relationship seemed perfect and times when it was a challenge. But wow, the good times were so good. We went to amazing concerts together, had romantic nights in the city, and went on tons of adventures with each other. I look back on a lot of those memories fondly. And it’s those memories that have helped me compile my list of requirements for future partners. (Must have great taste in music, must love travel and prioritize date nights, must be up for adventure, just to name a few.) But the challenging times taught me what to look for in my next partner, as well. I know what’s important to me: communication, respect, compromise. So, thank you.
You Taught Me How To Love Myself
Finally (and counterintuitively), you taught me how to love myself. I look back on our time together, and I remember how I used to be so small and timid. I let you have a power over me that didn’t seem unhealthy, it just seemed appropriate. You were older, more experienced, and you were in a band (so, obviously very cool, very talented, and very popular). And I felt little compared to you. So my personality dimmed, and I lost trust in my intuition. I faltered and looked to you (instead of myself) to restore my strength. I cried, I acted out, and I often behaved in a way that is unrecognizable to the girl I am now. The girl I am now is strong, brave, and fiercely aware of herself and her boundaries. I look at the girl I used to be and feel sorry for her. But I also look back on her with love. So much love for the loud girl who allowed herself to be quieted. I love that girl, and I also love the girl I am now. You taught me to love myself because you also took away the parts of myself that I loved. But I earned them back, so thank you.
Relationships end. And sometimes there’s nothing you can do to prevent this, but learning from each relationship means they’re not failed. They weren’t failures because they taught you lessons that you’ll take with you for the rest of your life. Like when Ariana sings “I’ve loved, and I’ve lost/But that’s not what I see.” Embrace your inner Ariana and comment below with a lesson you’ve learned from your ex because they’re everywhere.
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Recent college graduate, avid reader, lover of music and all things Yankees. Collector of pins, patches, and records.