An open letter to my former girlfriends

Dear __[insert your name here]__,

As I finish my mental preparations for marriage, my thoughts turn to you and the things you taught me while we dated. 

Some of those things were really good and some really hurt. In all, you made me a better person. Thank you. 

You’ll have to figure out which one you are, because I’m not going to use your name as I write some pretty specific things. 

Number 1

You impacted me more as I grew into manhood than anyone else. You became the one every other woman was measured against. 

There was no chance (based on things we both valued) we would ever end up together, but you were willing to date me anyway and to do so simply to learn and enjoy it. 

I learned to love, forgive, be patient, care, kiss, and put your needs above my own. It was perfect preparation for my mission, and I would not have been nearly as prepared for it without the eight months we spent together. 

You taught me to have fun, be playful, and to do things for the heck of it, rather than for a specific purpose. Using your unprecedented access to certain rooms on campus led to some very special times that I couldn’t repeat if I tried. 

I often told you, “true love was knowing and wanting the very best for you, even if it didn’t include me.” Your life doesn’t include me, and I’m ok with that. I’m happy you’re happy with your husband and (currently) five children. 

Number 2

I’ve never believed in love at first sight. Even though I definitely remember seeing you for the first time (although I have no recollection of how we actually met) and it was electric for me, it was only interest. Strong interest. But interest. 

I’ve struggled a lot trying to understand and categorize what we had. Three weeks on, nine months as nearly sold companions, three weeks on, friends, and then veil-piercing realizations of what had been going on for more than a year. 

I wanted to spend time with you. Most of the time, that seemed as though you wanted it as well, but I never really know where I stood with you. It took me a while longer (as in a few more relationships) to realize that was something I deserved to know, and should stay away from capricious women who can’t make up their minds. 

Looking back, your abuse of my unabashed infatuation with you softened many of my hard edges in good ways. But it caused my heart to harden, and that forced me to take a lot of time and effort to recover from that abuse. I regret your manipulation of me, and I wish I had noticed it earlier than a year and a half after we met. 

FYI, my relationship with my brother is more solid than it would have been without you. Despite (perhaps because of) your controlling nature, I took time to build a stronger connection with him, and that is a good thing for us now. 

I sincerely hope you’ve sought professional help for your eating disorder(s). Your constant need to control everything around you needs to be addressed and solved, or you won’t find the peace you blindly searched for (because you might have thought you had it, but the amount of discord you sewed in those around you (not just in me) is evidence you didn’t actually have it).

I hope all of these things have changed. I hope in the seven years since we had consistent contact you have gained actual and not just feigned control over your life. 

It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. It is often a sign of great strength. 

Number 3

There is one aspect of our relationship that I regret: that we lived so close to Number 2. I didn’t do a very good job of letting go of her as I was trying to build a relationship with you. 

I’ve never met a smarter woman than you, and I didn’t give you enough credit at the time for your spirituality. I’m glad to not be an accountant (we never saw eye to eye on familial roles, and I fear I would have been stuck there had we gotten married). 

You helped me regain a lot of confidence while we dated and even after we broke up. The most important thing you ever told me was to “get to know and be more comfortable with” myself. 

It was a hard thing to do because I’d been focusing on that for a while. But your comment sent me on a journey that caused me to introspect for the next two years. Two years I needed to get myself together before I could really start trying to date again. 

Number 4

Our time was short. We were never right for one another. I appreciated who you were, but realized very quickly our paths were not going to align for very long. 

I’m really happy you and your husband are together and I love seeing pictures of your chubby babies of Facebook. I hope you still find time to play sports and are raising those kids to win. 

Number 5

You were the shortest of all. After we agreed to start dating, I had the distinct impression, “Lee J, this will be the biggest mistake of your life.”

I realize not this was the case, although not for the reasons you might think. You were weeks away from meeting your now husband. He has made you incredibly happy in ways I never would have. Ways I would have had no idea how to. 

Your daughter is super cute, and I smile every time I am reminded that you are happy. 

Number 6

I’m not sure we ever really dated, but we both acknowledged we could see the ourselves falling for the other, I’m going to count it. 

You gave me confidence in myself I could not have gained otherwise. We talked openly enough that I knew the things you (and women, in general) desire, and that helped me alter some of my behaviors in extremely drastic (positive) ways. 

But I never felt as though you were committed to the idea of a relationship. When you decided to love two states away, I wasn’t willing to fight for you any more. It was ironic you argued I never had, when that’s all I’d been doing since we started together. I’m sorry you wouldn’t recognize that. 

When we met in my post-number 7 world, I was interested to see whether I had feelings for you. But when you harshly criticized me for doing something you’d laughed at two years earlier, I wasn’t going to put up with that. 

I responded harshly, and you cut off all contact. It was better that way, but it makes it harder to say now that you influenced me positively. 

Number 7

I don’t even know where to start with you. 

For 16 months you were the pinnacle of what I wanted, and you said I was the same for you. But you couldn’t pull the trigger and marry me. 

I’m glad you didn’t. Although we got along very well, and succeeded at many things together, something was missing. 

And that’s ok. 

I’ve been continually impressed with your growth since we broke up, and I’m glad to have had some sort of priming effect on that. I can’t take credit for wholesale changes–and I’d never want to, but I hope something about being with me prepared you for the rest of your life. 

I’ve been grateful for your continuing friendship–I needed it for many many months–and your continued interest in my activities and life. 

I wish you the absolute best and hope you are actively looking for someone to share your life with. Life is better with someone to share things with. 

Number 8

You and I were never meant to be. We gave each other solace in times of great difficulty for each of us. 

I wish you the best, but you’ll need a more charitable and more patient man than I. 

Good luck. 


As I conclude I wish to say three things:

  1. I’ve been honest in how I feel
  2. How I feel now may not reflect how I felt the last time we saw one another
  3. I’ve made suggestions or claims only because I care. 

And that is the honest truth. I still care. I loved each of you in different ways and to different degrees. I may not wish to have further interaction with some of you, but that is to protect me, and not because I don’t want good things for you. 

To those of you who are married, I look forward to meeting you and your families someday, and to those who aren’t, Ihope you find men better than I am. 

In the meantime, I hope you are all progressing personally. 

What I used to say to Number 1isnt totally correct, and I’ll correct it now. 

A form of love is wanting the absolute best for the other, even if it doesn’t include you. 

That’s what I have for you. True love is something else entirely. 

Lee J

About the author: Lee J

Lee J Hinkle spends his days writing video game code. It was never a job he expected to have. Check out Rogue Invader online. Any search will send you to the right spot. Unless the language is foreign. Then maybe 50% will be right.

He tries to be a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and hopes his Father recognizes his efforts.