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Free write: I stalk your other girlfriends 

***to every boy I ever paired with the lyrics of a love song:
At some point we were flirting, talking, dating, hooking up — at some point I cared about you because I liked you — but this isn’t about me and you.
I get distracted from me and you sometimes. Because I take note of the time when me and you didn’t exist.

Then the temptation surfaces to see who else laid claim to your heart: I go and I peruse the Twitter, the Facebook, the Instagram of that perky blonde, that tall sensual model, that short cute brunette that is teaching you how to better use tongue when kissing, or still keeps your guys’ old anniversary pictures up.

I’m aware how pathetic it is. But yes, in case you wondered, I STALK THE OTHER WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE. I’m an aspiring investigative journalist by trade. I have gotten quite good at extrapolating very much from very little information about your ex-girlfriends, your girlfriends, your potential girlfriends, anyone with a vagina and stake in your life.

It’s so easy, it becomes automatic – I don’t even think to check your profile as often as theirs. 
I open up my social media accounts and type in the first few letters of her name. I scrutinize her latest post, analyzing her use of smileys, assessing the implications of an open-mouthed or close-mouthed smile, doing mental math to compare my friend count to hers. Glaring at our mutual friends list, imagining ways I can shake her hand and tightlippedly smile at her in person, rightful romantic rival status made clear–

This is a hackneyed topic written about by many a woman. I’m sure you’re not truly surprised you’re desirable enough to render me this way. No matter how pretty, no matter how fun, no matter how easygoing, no matter how successful I am, the mere fact that other people exist or have ever existed in your life makes me pause.

The scales tip in my or her favor arbitrarily. She’s more witty than me, even if I have a nicer ass. She has bigger boobs, even though I believe I seem a little less bitchy. Maybe you and I look better in pictures together. Even though her inside-joke-tweet @ you 7 months ago was definitely more on point and mysterious than anything I could’ve come up with.

It’s partially ‘jealousy’. But moreover, it’s bald curiosity. I likely have never met or will never meet them. Yet it is a desperate want to know who the hell these women are. What their likes or dislikes are. Ideological views, types of conversation topics, would I enjoy them. How close of friends could we be? 
No matter, she and I had something in common: an interest in procuring your affections, and relative success at attracting your attention.

You could’ve even liked her before you knew me, or I could’ve dumped you and you found yourself a different lover and I’m not supposed to care. Nevertheless, I’m hooked on researching this person even more than the subjects of my hefty investigative articles.

******
Social media and knowledge of one’s lovers’ other lovers are the worst things to mix together. I may have the art of hate-stalking down, but there’s a whole new layer when it’s someone I may be compared to.

They’re not part of your future; there’s a reason it ended. Or maybe I know now that we’re not right for each other. And yet bile still rises in my throat. Because what these girls had or have is a definitively carved out portion of your time, your energy, your commitment, your love.

Me and you? Who knows how serious it was. Who knows how long we will last. Will it be monumentally more significant than these women? Or will it die by next week, fade from your mind next year … doomed to be yet another chapter, albeit shorter, in your book of failed romances? 
When I do this mental stacking, it makes me want to forget about dating altogether.

Usually I let myself wonder, for a second, what it would like to be friends with these girls. I imagine it: using my quick journalistic networking skills to break down their barriers, so I could charm them into taking a Snapchat selfie; posing with duck faces for a “happy birthday, love you!” photo; brainstorming witty captions together for their latest Instagram’d nature pic; even swapping stories about your ridiculousness.

That feeling seems to eliminate jealousy but perpetuate bald curiosity.
What I want from you is the unfair reassurance that you won’t leave, that you won’t forget me, that I’m special, that girls from other parts of your life are irrelevant compared to me.

I look at my social media presence, and I realize girls may be doing what I did and glancing at me, wondering what is it that made you fall for me.

It’s a network of curiosity. It’s happening to everyone, not just me. I feel a little less alone.

So all I can do is let the feeling of “friend crush” wash over me, to ward off negativity. And continue to be the kind of person with whom my significant other would be proud to belong, no matter who else there has been or will be.

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