UC-Berkeley PhD student and popular web social psychologist (if there’s such a term) danah boyd made another smart post about forgetting–specifically, the periods that people go through in between relationships. And I must admit that aside from making sure that I won’t screw up this time, I am going through the very same period that Boyd described in her post, aptly titled to remember or to forget? on babies and beer goggles.
“All around me, my friends are becoming dating-phobic because they’re terrified of messing up one more time. I watch as they swing to extremes, overcompensating for the last relationship disaster. And they don’t even remember the details of what went wrong!
“While i’m all down for remembering everything i ever read, just imagine the havoc wreaked on courtship by remembering today. First off, you “remember” interactions that never took place because you read the details of her blog before you even met. Next, all of those blog entries you wrote reminds you of your own emotional naiveté because you were in lurve. And now you have the snarky emails and IMs and texts that show that you’re a complete dickwad and are the root cause of all relationship woes. You have the video of your breakup that you watch over and over again to see what you could’ve done better so that you don’t feel like such shit. Oh, and you have shelves of DVDs that prove that your relationship looks nothing like what “normal” relationships should look like (proof through Molly Ringwald). Somehow, just as you’re starting to feel better, you think that it couldn’t _really_ hurt to look at her MySpace. Only you found that she erased your very existence in an effort to delete the relationship out of memory. And you wonder why you’ve stolen every emo MP3 out there.
I don’t think it’s just babymaking that we want to forget. There are good reasons for the tried-and-true attitude that you can’t immediately just be friends post-breakup. The reason you take time away is to forget. The reason you want to forget is because it’s how you make sure your ego doesn’t go suicidal on you. The natural decay of negative memories is quite useful. The re-organizing of your past allows you to be confident in who you are today. “
Forgetting is a good thing.