Hanoi Vietnam

The Ex-Girlfriend: Moving on & Raising Standards

I once loved a girl in Vietnam. Our relationship was always up and down, together and then broken up, close and then long distance. It dragged on for 4 years intermittently. From that brief description, anyone might agree it sounds toxic.

Pardon me while I get a bit sappy, but everyone reflects on this stuff and there's no shame in putting it out here. I'm taking this opportunity to write it down so I don't forget these thoughts, and perhaps I'll iterate on this article as the memories sometimes wash back and forth.

Yesterday will have been my last day speaking to her, after a few final attempts of reconstructing our relationship into a friendship. This person impacted my life in such extreme ways, it feels like she's kept a piece of me that's missing now (and vice-versa I'm sure). So there's obvious reasons for wanting a friendship to work. But the recurring emotional toll is a reminder that we both must move on and never look back.

Although, I've made many attempts to move on. I've dated probably a dozen women since I left Vietnam in early 2015, so it's truly notable that someone could continue to captivate my interest even though I'm aware of our issues and incompatibilities. I've come to know our differences well, and as a result, I know more about myself than ever before.

There would be months where we didn't talk, followed by a strong desire to reminisce and catch up. But every time it would snowball into lust for the past: reminders of the warmth and passion and anger would strike the chords of my emotions, and then I would become a ticking timebomb - wondering who she's with, why we still talk, if any of it made sense. I had been conditioned to feel those things even at the sound of her voice. Only with her have I ever gotten turned on from just talking on the phone; the attraction was so powerful.

I've learned many lessons from her, and I'm conscious not to let them become my insecurities. I've made profound observations about myself and my emotional construct, and it's been the most valuable takeaway I've had from any romantic relationship. I'm still wondering if I can ever be friends with someone I've loved and hurt this much? Maybe someday, but not while I'm still looking for a someone new. She said that was selfish. Or perhaps I misunderstood her, as was common. Who knows.

I've always been a romantic kind of guy (even if she didn't think so). Since the first girl I asked to Prom - in front of my entire highschool, at an assembly on stage. I'm commonly bold in the name of love, passionate and independent, caring and good natured. And now that I know the level of intensity love can have, I don't want to waste my time with sub-par matches. It's draining to go through the cycle of setup, discovery, split-up, with girls who mean nothing because they never fully gain my interest (particularly on dating apps, doesn't seem like they ever redeem the raw curiosity and attraction of first contact in the real world, or perhaps because of the way I met my ex).

That's why this year I'm going to intentionally raise my standards. I only want to chase after someone who captivates me with such intensity, and when the opportunity comes along, I'll pursue her relentlessly.

Han Le

My amazing, beautiful, and passionate ex-girlfriend Han Le.