Why do I obsess over the girls my partner used to date

(PHOTO: Getty Images)
(PHOTO: Getty Images) (Westend61 via Getty Images)

Welcome to A Millennial's Dating Diary series, where we explore real-life interactions and the hurdles of dating in Southeast Asia. The series will feature the dating stories and misadventures of Arika – a 26-year-old, straight female marketing manager with a penchant for over drinking — and fellow millennials.

When Mark, 31, and I started dating, we knew we would keep things casual.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), fate had other plans for us, and after our third date or so, we realised we had gotten emotionally attached.

To be perfectly honest, we had both come out of long-term relationships. On my part, I wanted to explore my promiscuous phase, date around, and just meet as many different people as possible.

In essence, Mark wanted the same thing. The only thing was, he was definitely more successful than I was, and in the time he was dating, Mark had met at least thrice the number of people I had.

While I had known he had met and slept with a much larger amount of people than I did, it was only recently that I realised just how much it would bother me.

So here's the thing: I tend to obsess over my partners' exes, which can land me in a precarious emotional state.

Whenever I learn of a partner's ex, I immediately try to figure out what they're like. After all, we already have one thing in common: we like(d) the same person and, well, their goods.

That sliver of information is enough to incite my curiosity, and just like Pandora, I want to open the box that contains everything I ever wanted to know about this person:

  • Who they are.

  • What they do for work.

  • What they're like, and even who their friends are.

Two human hands holding two smartphones with a heart graphics on the screen in different places.
(PHOTO: Getty Images) (Oscar Wong via Getty Images)

Singapore is a tiny island, so it's likely we're already connected in some ways.

"I always CSI the crap out of my partner's exes. All I need to know is their name and where they work. As long as they have a social media presence, I'm going to be able to find them," says my friend *Mandy, 28. "I need to know who I'm going up against."

My other friend Serena, 27, thinks information about exes should remain firmly in the past. "I never ever ask about who *Ian, 27, has seen or slept with. I'm worried I'll find something out, and it'll really upset me, or I might get insecure."

I've personally been on both sides of the coin here.

In the past, Mark and I had a don't ask, don't tell policy where I refrained from asking about dates, and he kept certain information private from me to protect my feelings.

I've recently been more open in my desire to learn about the girls he used to date. With my sleuthing skills, I could find out almost every single thing I could get about these girls. From where they worked, who they're friends with, and with information Mark unwittingly handed me, I was able to put two and two together about what these girls were like.

The funny thing was that, once I found out, I didn't actually feel good.

In fact, I felt pretty darn miserable. When I saw who these girls were, I kept questioning how I even matched up to them and wondered what we had in common that attracted him. I hated how I felt, comparing myself to these girls and feeling insecure.

The Good Brigade via Getty Images

Once, I had asked a mutual friend about a girl Mark had seen, and our mutual friend even volunteered to introduce us. "Seriously, you have nothing to worry about. I'll even introduce you. She's not that great. Don't worry!" our mutual friend said.

The last thing I wanted was to be on friendly terms with these girls.

Knowing how upset I can get, Mark generally tries his best to reassure me he didn't harbour romantic feelings for them. "They were just flings," he once told me.

Now here's the kicker, every once in a while, when on Instagram, I'll look into who saw my Stories and lo and behold, there's been a couple of times when I'd see the girls he used to date checking in on what I've been up to.

The first time this happened, I thought I had messed up, and I had accidentally liked a photo of one of the girls I had stalked.

Upon reflection, though, I realised these girls were probably looking up who Mark had decided to make his partner after he texted them all that he's currently in something a little more serious.

Realising this, I figured there isn't much needed to be insecure about. Just like me, these girls were doing their due diligence, and they could even be wondering who I was.

One thing's for sure, though, while I no longer get as affected by these girls and who they are, I might, on occasions, check in on what they're up to on Instagram.

Occasionally, I allow what I've learned to get me down, but I swear, I'm working on it.