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Im engaged, but I still love my exes
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6 reasons I think about them from time to time. - photo by Jenna Koford
Im engaged to a wonderful, loving man, and it wasnt an easy journey to get to where we are today. I sat through a lot of first-date interviews, awkward breakups, and a roller coaster of heartache. I met and dated men who changed and challenged me. And I still love them.

But I dont love them in the way that you think. I dont love my exes in any romantic sense, and I really dont talk to any of them anymore, but I love what theyve given me.

I love what they taught me, what they shared with me, and who they were. I love the memories I have and the person Ive become, in part because of them. With each ending relationship, I took part of my ex with me, or the lesson I learned from him.

There are six ways my exes changed me for the better and helped me love someone so fully now:

1. They taught me what I like

Clearly I liked something about them when I met each person who came into my life. Some were carefree and loved being the comedian, while others were well-rounded and kind. I learned what qualities I liked in the different people I dated.

For example, one ex had a great sense of fun and childlike passion for life. Another was smart and well prepared for his career. I appreciated certain qualities in them, and I knew what I really wanted after each relationship ended.

2. They taught me what I dont like

On the other side, my exes definitely helped me learn the things I dont fully love in someone. I wont use this part to talk negatively about people, but it didnt take long to learn what qualities I liked. Theres a difference between dealing with someones personality and behaviors and truly loving them.

3. They made me speak my mind

When I first started dating, I was not myself. I didnt speak my mind, and I politely agreed with what my boyfriend would say. I was even afraid to say what wedding colors I likedI was afraid he wouldnt like the same ones. So I stayed silent.

Going on dates and having relationships helped me become the most me I could ever be. Maybe it was because I answered so many of the same first- and second-date questions, but I became confident in whom I really was.

4. They humbled me

Ive never thought I was the most beautiful, charming, or hilarious person out there, and Ive had lots of dates who never called or text again. But I had always been the person to end a relationship. So when someone broke up with me for the first time, I was sad and humbled at the same time. I was humbled as I learned that I had many flaws, and that I still do.

No one is perfect, but we all have some potential. When you find the person who has the best potential in your eyes, keep them.

5. They made me learn how to make choices

Of course I made the choice to date them, but my exes helped me make even more choices in our relationship.

Many people have this thought while dating: Were either going to get married or break up. So many people look to the end of the relationship and try to predict where its going, and Im one of them. But I love that my exes pushed me to make decisions, especially decisions about the relationship.

I had nervous conversations and frustrated phone calls, plus many nights of tears, but I always had that gut feeling to move on. It has helped both me and my exes find who we were really meant to be with.

6. They pushed me

The people I dated didnt push me physically or even emotionally, but they all pushed me toward the man I was meant to be with. Maybe you dont believe in soulmates, but your past relationships and trials may be pushing you to the places youre supposed to be.

Because of my exes, I learned what I liked and didnt like. I spoke up and grew into who I am today. And because of the choices I made, I was pushed to the person who will give me the best possible kind of life I could have ever hoped for. I love my exes for what Ive learned from them, and I love my fiance a whole lot more.
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