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I have a problem that my mother would definitely think is of my own making. My mother would beat me if she found out. But right now I am more worried that my girlfriend will beat me. About two years ago, I met a woman and we had a brief affair. It was fun but we were in different places and it ended in a couple months. Soon after, I met the woman who is now my girlfriend. Things have gotten pretty serious between us and we now live together also. My girlfriend and I have tons in common and we have generally a lot of fun together. One problem with this is that she has started following on social media the woman I had the brief scene with. That woman is a bit of a social media star. And my girlfriend thinks she is awesome. She continuously likes her posts, shares her stuff and talks about her as her girlcrush.
Abhi some mornings my social media tension and anxiety, which used to be average millennial level tension, becomes very high blood pressure. On some days, I wonder if my girlfriend has somehow found out and is taunting me with this. She hasn’t. I am just tense and paranoid. Right?
Should I tell her? Will it be weird to tell her after so many months? Will she hate me? There is no chance she will think it’s cool and her girlcrush (and boycrush!) will continue undamaged will it?
Wishing Life Was Snapchat (Not)
Well now! That was definitely a challenge to this billi’s sang-froid in a good way. I must say I haven’t had such a good laugh since I saw Chashme Buddoor in my youth. Oh my. Let me just check I haven’t lost a diamond in all this hilarity before we get to your problem.
If my friend Aunty Gulabo were here she would almost certainly say, aur karo kaand, but I am not like that. I will say only, well, that you and your girlfriend have a lot in common. Laughing till the tears flow emoji.
Ok, ok, I will not laugh at you anymore. You are too young for blood pressure on top of all so many millennial problems you must be having, such as being urban poors.
Your problem brings up many issues, issues which are not restricted to millennials, of course (just like urban poverty). Nor is your problem restricted even to love in the time of internet, although the internet amplifies them. But they are eternal issues of love stories puttar, and they are: coincidence, privacy, secrets and timing.
Love itself is a coincidence. What are the chances anyone will meet anyone? 1,000 and also 0. As if that was not exciting enough, what are the chances that someone you slept with before will encounter someone you are sleeping with now and they will like each other — or one will be fangirling the other? Quite high, and if you no believe Billi, see any old Yash Chopra movie such as Silsila, Daag (not The Fire) and so on where exes and presents are always colliding while the hero goes pale and Sanjeev Kumar (that cutie) looks rueful.
The billi’s (not at all humble) opinion? Without this coincidence there is no fun, it is the namak of romance and you should feel very, very lucky to have this spicing up your life. Admit it, the slight fear is thrilling.
Coincidence is the pivoting masala in a lou story. But timing is the mainstay of any lasting script. Being an adarsh balak is a matter of timing, not intention. Perhaps, if you had mentioned your brief romance earlier, it’d have been casual and it’d not really have changed anything. Your girlfriend might still have fangirled her and your stock even might have been somewhat higher. If you tell her now, it will seem bigger than it really is and it will create faltu tension, millennial hypertension and unnecessary crossed wires. It will have the quality of a confession and that will create an aura of unease. I’m not saying never tell her. It may be ok to tell her in a lighter moment a year on. Or something like that. But even then if you make it into a big deal it will indeed and unnecessarily become a big deal.
About your wondering if she knows… then why should she play these games beyond a point? If she is doing it just to tease you, then she is bound to ask you some time and when you tell her it will all be sweet, affectionate fun. If she is doing it in a toxic way then this is the least of your concerns and I have no doubt you will be soon writing another email to the billi.
Now to turn to that that issue which sounds au courant and hence millennial, but which is actually the bedrock of human existence. Privacy. Any relationship is made up of two privates by which I don’t mean parts, though also that. Although your former fling was a passing fancy, there was still something between you two that was private to both — you and to her. In some way, her being a public or semi-public character, makes it fairer to consider the sense of her privacy too. We should always look at our past lovers and friend-lovers with some tenderness because what we have shared with them is personal. Your ex-lover is not only an anecdote, but a shared experience. To relate it, even to your partner, at this particular moment, may be a little bit objectifying of this social media lady. Again, I am not saying never tell your girlfriend. Just that maybe this is not the most wholesome moment to do so.
But let us come to the most fundamental question, the central idea of this script.
Should one keep secrets from one’s lovers? There are many schools of thought on this. The healthy and hearty American milk and cookies type feel there should be no secrets. The billi school doesn’t really agree. In fact, let us even jettison this word secret from the discussion. This is not a ‘secret’ or seminal, important event. That is precisely the reason you never told your girlfriend before, correct? We all assume when we enter a relationship that we each had a love-sex-life before. When we tell each other about it, I’m not sure it should be in the form of confession as if your past life was sins and mistakes and now you are cleansed and becoming Born Again.
We may tell our lovers things from our past in terms of how they shaped us or why they mattered to us. We can get to know each other organically, a moment leading to the telling of a story. This approach — let me list every person I ever slept with approach — is actually quite puritanical and carries the implication that none of those things are important anymore. That only this relationship will be significant now. This approach is trivialising your own past relationships and this one in one go.
Just as it was with the brief affair, so it is with a longer relationship — the coming together of two privacies. How beautiful if we can accept that the people we love have the right to a prior private life and are in fact, more interesting because of it. Then we may receive each account of their past, each revelation of their thoughts as part of a marvellous sharing, a gleaming discovery and a loving gift in the deeply satisfying, always interesting journey of getting to know one another. Wait and see. Tell if it adds to the story. In this way, love will actually be a serious building of a script together, instead of a mechanical copy-paste of one’s entire browsing history onto an external hard disk labelled “a relationship”.
Nahin toh, let it be, on the editing room floor, like so many other things you may never get round to telling each other. It’s absolutely ok.