"Oh, I'm in such a happy relationship, I'm doing everything right with this new girl!" my ex Sadie* said to me over the phone.
I rolled my eyes.
"Yeah? What are you doing right?" I asked, taking a luxurious sip of my peppermint tea.
"Well, since you convinced me to get therapy last year, I'm just more self-aware. Plus, you taught me to trust another human being, so I'm not constantly feeling insecure. I'm taking it slow... Oh, and I think I'm much more organized now."
Finally, some credit.
See, I'm the girl you date who will "fix you," so that you, my darling, are in perfect, mint condition for your next relationship with whoever comes after me.
I'm the one who will make you talk about your traumatic childhood. I'll create a safe environment that will undo the shame that's been tormenting you your entire life, and I'll help you learn that it's OK to discuss how you feel inside.
I'll empower you to take on the career you're really passionate about (not just the one that your dad wants you to take on for "security").
I'll help you confront that family member who messed you up and made you feel unloveable. I'll pressure you to get your goddamn shit together, baby.
Despite all this, you will struggle wildly throughout our relationship. You'll resist going to therapy. You'll resent me for trying to help you figure out your career path. You'll clam up when we try to uncover the darkness of your past.
This unending pushback — combined with my issues, of course (I'm not throwing all the blame on you, girl) — will eventually tear us apart.
I'll break up with you because I'll have taken your lack of motivation personally. You'll dump my ass because I'm too sensitive and annoying and don't know when to freaking quit.
Then, six months later, when you'll have had time to process everything, you'll finally book that therapy appointment and NOT cancel it for once. You'll start to talk to your friends about your feelings, and finally grasp the healing powers of opening up to the people you love. You'll be thriving, my darling ex.
You'll meet a girl who's also in a really positive place, because positive living attracts positive people (trust me on that one, kittens).
And you will be the perfect girlfriend, doing everything right with her.
So she can send me fucking flowers, thank you very much.
That's how it goes, I'm realizing. Any OMG AMAZING relationship you're in isn't your partner's first relationship. In fact, each relationship they've been in has made them a better partner, and the same applies to you. The more seasoned you are, the better.
So when you, sweet reader, are so gloriously happy, so content and amazed by the epic perfection of your partner, you can really just thank their ex.
Your SO worked through their mistakes with this past love. They learned what to do and what not to do with this ex. And maybe, because this ex left them, they know not to repeat the same mistakes this time around. They don't want to risk losing you.
With my peppermint tea now cold, I ended the call with Sadie, feeling smug and very pleased with myself.
Her girlfriend can fucking thank me. You're welcome, bitch!
But then it dawned on me: My current girlfriend should also send Sadie at LEAST two dozen flowers, because Sadie made me a better partner, too.
We might not have ended up together, but together we learned how to navigate the dark and stormy waters of LOVE, baby.
So let's all take a moment to appreciate our current SO's exes. If it weren't for them, we wouldn't have such well-practiced baes who are so experienced at the game of love.
Good love athletes aren't born, they're made, kittens.
But the only GIANT exception to this rule? If your current partner is an asshole.
In that case, their ex doesn't deserve a bouquet. Instead, send a lump of coal to their apartment, because they're probably the reason your bae is so bitter and mean and untrusting and terrible in bed.
No flowers for you, thank you very much.