Anyone else feel like their exes use them as a stepping stone?


PathologicalFryer asks:

Every time I break up with someone, the next guy my ex-girlfriend dates is taller, more athletic, more attractive and smarter than I am. Why would anyone ever consider settling for me if it appears I’m just the bottom rung on the ladder to Prince Charming? I’m trying to work on myself a lot (making more money, working on physical appearance, health, etc.) but I fear even if I optimize myself it’s still never going to be enough to be worth anyone else’s time.

Demetrius says:

Well this is an interesting question. I have to ask you this, let’s say your exes do use you as a stepping stone to meet someone who might be physically more attractive than you. Why does that bother you?

I would like to believe that every time I’ve dated someone and things ended, regardless of how or why it ended, the person I was dating will use me as a stepping stone to meet someone amazing, and I mean that sincerely. I can’t think of a better compliment to me than to know that someone I dated learned and grew in our relationship, and used that knowledge to find someone who is a much better fit for them. There are obviously exceptions to the rule for many people, but if a relationship ends mostly amicably, what’s wrong with being a stepping stone for someone’s growth and happiness? The idea that the person you dated will use their experiences with you to better inform their next romantic decision isn’t so terrible if you think of yourself less as a stepping stone and more as someone who provided a learning and growth opportunity. Unless there was infidelity, or abuse (of any kind) in the relationship, I honestly think that you should be happy if your ex moves on. Even if they’ve moved on to someone you think is more physically attractive than you. Maybe it’s because I have a pretty big ego, and I’m irrationally confident, but if I date someone and the next person they date seems like a great guy, even if he’s taller than me, or more athletic, or even if he has a better blog, to them I would say: Good for you sweetheart. I’m happy for you.

Now, that probably has a lot to do with my own confidence, and also how I view my worth. I don’t tie my worth as a romantic option to whoever an ex dates next. An ex dating someone taller, or more athletic, or more attractive than me doesn’t bother me because for me, those things have nothing to do with my worth. My worth as a person, as a viable romantic option, has dick-all to do with who my exes date after me, whether they’re more traditionally attractive, or more attractive because of their social status. No one is ever going to say “Who is your ex dating right now? If they’re better looking or higher status than you, then we can’t date”.

The issue here, especially for you, is that who your exes date after you seems to be impacting your self-esteem. You’re thinking of yourself as a stepping stone in a negative and literal sense. The problem isn’t that you’re less attractive than the new guy, the problem is that you fear that this somehow makes you less desirable. Which is silly. Maybe you should stop thinking of your dating life in metaphorical terms. You are the last person that someone dated, and now they’re dating someone who YOU think is better than you. That doesn’t mean that somehow you’re less of a catch, it just means that YOU think your ex-girlfriend’s new partner is better than YOU. What I’m trying to hammer home is that the problem is YOU, and how you perceive your worth.

It’s great that you’re working on yourself because that’s just a good idea in general, but trust me when I tell you that you right now is good enough. How do you not see that? If you have ex-girlfriends, it means THAT YOU WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO HAVE HAD GIRLFRIENDS IN THE PAST. Who your exes are dating now has NOTHING to do with your worth to someone new. For all you know, the new guy could be more physically attractive than you, and smarter than you, but your ex-girlfriend is miserable with him. Maybe one of your exes is dating someone who looks like a downgrade compared to you, but she’s the happiest she’s ever been or ever will be. Who your exes date doesn’t have any bearing on your worth. You’re not a stepping stone or a rung on a ladder, because dating isn’t a game where you level up and date better people. Your ex-girlfriend wasn’t experience grinding by dating you so she could level up and date a level 100 Legendary Boyfriend. That’s not how dating works. She dated you, now she’s dating someone who you think is more attractive than you. It’s not any deeper than that.

Good Luck Out There.

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