The Ex Factor

Posted by Dan | Posted in Blog, Rants, Writing | Posted on 14-02-2011


If there’s one rule in the dating game I think we all agree should be abolished, it would have to be the concept of ‘the ex’.

Be it your high school sweetheart, the ‘someone’ you met at a club and grabbed a few drinks with, or just that obligatory best friend who at some point became ‘more than that’ – the one common ground in all romantic romps is the swift and unpleasant outcome of their conclusion: an ex.  Someone who, this rule commands, you must spend anything from a month to eternity cursing, berating and avoiding; all in the name of love.  This former romantic interest is stripped of any essence of humanity, and referred to evermore as ‘my ex’.  Contact, when unavoidable, is limited to brief, awkward conversations about work, the weather – anything but their current relationship status (in case it looks like you care which, strangely, you do).  It’s probably just as well, because residual jealousy will forever rule your judgement of an ex: branding them a ‘slut’ the minute you catch them smiling at someone new; and twisting your perspective of them until you utter those oh-so-predictable words, ‘I can’t believe I ever went out with…’

I think it was Jesus who said, ‘It is better to have loved then lost, than never to have loved at all’ but, given my track record, I’m not too sure I agree with Him.  I’m all for making someone happy for a few months, but if it’s followed by a potential lifetime of belittling every detail about their post-you lives, and diving under tables whenever they enter the room, I’m just not convinced it’s worth it.  And all you need do is mutter ‘my ex’ from under the table and everyone understands – so I can’t be the only one.

Personally, I’m a firm believer in the ‘love is a roller coaster’ analogy: it has its ups and it has its downs, but ultimately the whole experience leaves you terrified, nauseated and clinging desperately to anything in reach for survival.  But it has always fascinated me how a couple can go, almost overnight, from sharing their most intimate thoughts and moments to downright vilifying one another.  I suppose that intimacy is the reason: they know too much about you, and if you don’t seek to demolish their credibility – at least among your friends – there is no telling what power they could wield with that information.

Of course, you do occasionally hear rumours of exes becoming the best of friends after the initial apartheid, and obviously there are exceptions to the ‘you will hate each other’ rule: some people orchestrate the break-up with such an air of decorum that all it amounts to is a few awkward feelings for a week.  But let’s be fair – these friendships are forever marred with whispers of ‘Are they getting back together?’, because exes are never ‘just friends’.  If you don’t believe me, try telling your current partner you’re meeting your ex for a drink and a movie (be sure to note their reaction, as you may not see them again).

I always used to see the line ‘I value our friendship too much’ as a clichéd excuse, but looking back, I’d call them the wizened words of romance veterans.  I’d say it’s the fear of ‘the ex’ – more than the waiting for ‘the one’ – that makes people cautious in making that fatal jump into a relationship.  We all crave; it’s natural.  But an ex serves as a constant, lurking reminder that it’s not a good idea to date every person you feel a slight attraction to, as chances are all you’ll reduce the friendship to is an eventual state of avoidance, glares and drunk confusion in those brief moments of ‘I miss you’.

Not meaning to put a damper on anyone’s relationships or anything – I’m sure they’re all breathtaking – but for now I’m staying single, until I find someone I’m at least fairly sure I’ll marry.  Not because I’m afraid of commitment or rejection; but because I’m petrified of my future ex-girlfriend.

Comments (5)

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daniel Grosvenor, Meurig Gallagher. Meurig Gallagher said: RT @danielgrosvenor: My annual anti-#Valentine's piece. 'The Ex Factor' […]

It’s not impossible – I’m friends, and good friends in some cases, with my exes. I know what you mean though – there’s always one lurking, ready to raise an awkward head.

(Oh, and that quotation’s Tennyson. I know how you love the pedantry.)


I know. That was my lame attempt at humour.

Thank you for reading it. 🙂


Well, that was awesome 🙂

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