How can I forever purge an ex's name from my subconscious?
April 28, 2005 11:48 AM   Subscribe

How can I erase an ex's name (or more to the point a series of name-oriented terms) so that I don't inadvertently use them in my current relationship? [+]

I've very recently started seeing someone, and it's going great... except for the fact that I'm absolutely terrifyed that I'm going to say my ex's name, or make an inappropriate reference containing ex's name. It's been over a year since I broke up with said ex; we had been together for about 4 years. I don't have any real fear of calling current S.O. by ex's name. It's just that in the ex-relationship there had been a variety of in-jokes and terms that contained ex's name, which I'm now afraid I may inadvertantly use. Without going into further detail, I guess I'm asking how can I purge this name from my subconcious? Has anyone ever gone through anything similar? Any tips / tricks?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total)
It may happen, it may not. When and if it happens, laugh about it. It is funny (ha-ha) and it doesn't matter. It *really* doesn't matter.
posted by TimothyMason at 11:59 AM on April 28, 2005

It sounds like the new relationship is progressing to the point where you are feeling very comfortable with this person, otherwise you likely wouldn't let slip a word or phrase that you used to use absentmindedly in a comfortable setting.

If it's been more than a few weeks and/or you are definitely seeing each other exclusively, I would say sit down and talk about it: "Look, there's all these in-jokes that I'm used to talking about, they might slip out once in a while, don't be offended, it doesn't mean I'm thinking of the ex, it's just been a part of my vocabulary for a long time and I'll have to get used to not using those words/phrases." Think of it as preventative maintenance.
posted by vignettist at 12:17 PM on April 28, 2005

in the past few years, I dated three women in a row who had the same name.
I cannot deny that I've made the occasional gaffe once or twice, but... it happens. just find a nickname for your new date. you' won't need to use names then
posted by matteo at 12:20 PM on April 28, 2005

How name-connected are these in-jokes? Will it be obvious that you are referring to your ex?

Are you afraid of saying "Oh Mary, you are jenniferrific" or something like that? Can you an example of what you are afraid of saying?

Start building your own in-jokes and whatnot with this new person to replace the obsolete ones.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:25 PM on April 28, 2005

I think your current partner should be open to hearing you ex's name from time to time.

If you were with a person for four years it is safe to assume that you two were about as close as two people can be and shared many moments that were memorable, maybe even life altering.

Now that you have a new person in your life it is only natural to want to share your life experiences up to right now with that person. If your ex's name comes up during the course of your sharing so be it.

If you really want to hold back on your references you have to make a very conscious effort to do so.

Limiting the use of your jokes and terms will be hard but can be done but you have to really ask yourself why are you trying to take this persons name out of your life?
What are you afraid of?
Your current flame hearing your ex's name and freaking out? Him/Her thinking that you are still in love with your ex and becoming jealous?

IMHO those are legitimate concerns but you have to address them with your new partner rather than push them aside. Let him/her know that you love them and you are no longer with your ex for a reason. Reassure them even though you have all these memories with your ex you want to make more, better, stronger memories with your current partner.

And if this person does react in the worst possible way, say breaking up with you because you sometimes mention the name of your ex, you have to ask yourself, did this person actually care for me?

Honesty is really the key. Be open. Be up front.
posted by thefinned1 at 12:32 PM on April 28, 2005

Just call them all "Darling" and it shouldn't be a problem.
posted by essexjan at 12:36 PM on April 28, 2005

call them "muffin". "muffin" is cute
posted by matteo at 12:41 PM on April 28, 2005

Was the ex's name Dick?
posted by mischief at 12:45 PM on April 28, 2005

Before I met the woman who is now my wife, I dated the same woman for 6 years. It was not difficult for me to avoid saying her name, however, it took years to break the "one time WE went to this place and ..." My wife usually knows what I mean when I say "we" and although she doesn't get pissed about it or anything, I just prefer to say "I" these days unless the other part of "we" is important to the story.
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:49 PM on April 28, 2005

Been there :) oh have I been there....current girlfriend had her head on my chest, just talking, and called me Keith for about 5 minutes before I gently said, "My name is Patrick". Now it's a funny story, and to be honest I'm not to bothered by it. I'm of the age where of course I and whomever I'm with has been in several committed relationships, so just be honest, and if it does slip out, it's just a slip nothing more.
posted by patrickje at 1:02 PM on April 28, 2005

If your new squeeze is offended by accidental mentions of your ex, he/she is not someone you want to be dating anyway. There is no reason for fear.
posted by kindall at 1:16 PM on April 28, 2005

To answer your question, I don't think there's really any trick that you can employ to rid your unconcious of the ex's name and word associations. It will just take time.
It will be helped of course by following the choice pickings from the advice above.
posted by peacay at 1:38 PM on April 28, 2005

I agree with vignettist. Just make a joke of it to your current SO - it really doesn't have to be a big deal unless you make it one.
posted by widdershins at 1:39 PM on April 28, 2005

Long ago, my mother advised me to pick generic names like "darling," "sweetie," and such, and to never use my girlfriend's name in bed - for just this reason.

Thanks, mom!
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:13 PM on April 28, 2005

i'd advocate explaining first that it might happen by accident, and that it's just because you associate communicating that way with a certain positive feeling.
posted by anildash at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2005

I once went out with three girls in a row (over a 2 year period) with names beginning with R. You just need to concentrate on making sure you say the right one :)
posted by theducks at 10:03 PM on April 28, 2005

I agree with the people that said it will go away with time, and that your current SO should be understanding if you make some reference to the ex now and again.

Just be sure that you'll never say the wrong name during sex. Ever. What ikkyu2 suggested is good - if there is any risk that you might do this, stick to sweetie/honey/babe or something of that nature. People have a pretty hard time forgiving "Oh Chris!" in the heat of the moment if their name is Pat. (learned that the hard way years ago, unfortunately)
posted by raedyn at 8:42 AM on April 29, 2005

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