Why your ex can make for a great therapist.
Let me start this by saying if you can afford an actual therapist, get one. Even if there is “nothing wrong with you” per se. I'm proud to admit that I've been seeing a professional therapist for seven years, and we've built such a great rapport. It's truly refreshing and life changing to have such an outlet, and I encourage any and everyone to try it out.
But if you can't afford to or feel a certain way about seeing an actual therapist, there is another option that you may be able to use as an effective outlet and source of feedback in your relationships.
My college sweetheart and my first love was once my “side therapist” during a later relationship.
A couple of years after we broke up, I got into a relationship that was pretty much tumultuous from the gate. I fell head first for a girl pretty quickly, and we all know how that usually turns out. Needless to say, it took a toll on me.
It could have been a lot worse had it not been for the one I was previously in love with. As crazy as it sounds, my ex was one of my main sources of strength during another trying relationship.
Myself and ex number one (let's call her Analicia) were in a long and tough relationship during our college years. (I know I'm the common denominator here, but stay with me.) She saw me at my lowest, most disgustingly insecure points during that time. Needless to say, we didn't work out. What we did do is establish a bond that allowed us to become the best of friends a couple years after the relationship ended and the wounds had healed. You can read about that bond here.
After Ana and I first broke up, I entered into another failed situation. Then I met Janay.* Janay and I hit it off immediately, but we didn't get along for sh*t. It was a trying time for me, romantically speaking.
Whenever we would go through our battles, I would run to Analicia for help. I wouldn't run to her to bash Janay, nor would I allow her to; I wasn't looking for affirmation. My goal was genuinely to try to fix our relationship by seeing where I went wrong. I needed honest feedback from a source who knows exactly how I am in relationships and who wasn't afraid to put me in my place and give it to me straight.
I would always start our distress calls with my infamous catchphrase: “Tell me if I'm trippin'.” I seriously wanted to know if I was wrong. Analicia would often play devil's advocate, having been in the shoes of my girlfriend. If I was wrong, I was more than willing to go to Janay and apologize and do my best to do better. I truly wanted us to work out, and I wanted to do whatever it took to make sure we did -- including consulting with my ex.
I know what you're thinking. Yes, I did have an actual therapist that I could talk to. However, as a professional, she wouldn't have been able to take my drunken calls at midnight on a Wednesday.
Besides, who better than to go to the person who knows (or knew) how I truly am in relationship? She knew what made me tick, and I was able to be brutally honest.
I'm aware that this was a very tricky situation. I would advise anyone who would use such a tactic to tread carefully. Yes, Janay was aware of the nature of me and Ana's communication. Was she always comfortable with the situation? Not at all. In fact, she was never really comfortable with it. It actually became of source of further contention between us, but that was among other things.
However, Analicia and I's conversations did a lot to alleviate many of Janay and I's short-term transgressions. Especially the ones where I was in the wrong. Ultimately our long-term issues prevailed, and we ended up having to go our separate ways.
However, I do still believe that an ex can be an effective outlet if and only if all parties involved are mature enough to handle it. Everybody must be clear on where they stand. It's surely not a tool that every couple will be able to utilize.
Should you decide to enter a situation where you vent to your ex about your current relationship, I urge you to be straightforward with your mate. If they are not cool with it, do your best to explain the nature of the communication (assuming that your intentions are indeed as pure mine were). You also need to make sure enough time or maybe even a relationship or two has passed since you and your “therapist” ex have broken up, so you can honestly say that there are absolutely zero lingering feelings.
If your current mate is still uncomfortable with the situation, then you must ultimately cut communication with the ex. Even if you're intentions are good. Don't be like me
Again it isn't for everybody, but I do believe exes can be very effective outlets that will provide you with honest feedback in your new relationship. However, the conditions must be right for such exchanges to effectively occur.