Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Ex and the Shitty

There was an item on The Wright Stuff today (my daytime guilty pleasure) about going on holiday with an ex, or a partner 'you can no longer stand.' (I have a bit of a problem with the latter description - who stays with someone they can't stand?) I've had some experience of this, having booked a holiday with a boyfriend a few years ago and ended up going together post-split, with a determination to have fun 'as friends.' I can advise that things are never that simple, however great your relationship was, and to instead bring a friend or even just go alone. Sitting alone on a beach is infinitely preferable to the emotional hell of two recent exes in foreign climes with only each other for company.

It was an interesting debate though. Several phone-ins revealed people who had found out their partner was cheating the day before a holiday and gone anyway (ouch), or couples where the relationship had clearly fizzled out, but they had a trip coming up so decided to patch things up for the duration. The problem is, and it's hard to see when there's money and unfamiliar destinations involved, that holidays are supposed to be relaxing. All of the things that warrant the payment - a break from work, sunshine, empty schedule - become blighted by uncomfortable silences, bickering or tension you could cut with a knife.

The whole 'friends with an ex' thing is a total minefield anyway. I am mildly suspicious of couples who move straight to being great chums, laughing at each others' jokes without a hint of bile and happily meeting new partners without any stabby thoughts. I always hope that I will end up as friends with an ex, but with the emphasis on 'end up' - with room for a quarantine period of hatred, drinking and secretly willing heavy objects to fall on them first. Maybe I'm just a horrible person or my relationships are too intense, but I've never been able to go, 'Ok bud, we've had fun - good luck with everything and call me anytime.' There are always a few stabby thoughts.

If we were totally honest, the next time you're really going to be able to wish your ex well is when you've moved on, be that with a full on new relationship or just a distracting crush. It's a terribly superficial thing, but the battle to prove you're not going to die alone always dominates post-breakup relations. As the winner of that race, you are elevated to smug, sympathetic pal who asks them how it's all going and encourages them to hang in there. The problem women tend to have with a split is wondering where all the feelings evaporate to, and trying to stay close and keep that person in their lives. Do we really need to? I think if you were friends first, or dated substantially (this is where the Americans have it so right) you have established common ground, great chat and a bond before things get physical, and thus have more of a shot at the friends thing. Equally, if you have lots of mutual friends, you're forced to make it civil which can turn out to be a great thing.

However, if it was a whirlwind thing cutting straight to the passion, chances are you were too high on hormones and butterflies in those early stages to really register a personality in the other person, and in this instance I say cut them loose. Chances are you have little or nothing in common and if there's no friend foundation it won't last anyway. The easiest thing to do is really hate someone, so it can be a gift if they've cheated, battered your self-esteem or broken up with you in some tacky way. Obviously it won't seem like it at first, but whack on the Alanis Morrisette, energetically clean things and dig out your dancing shoes. Rage is often the catalyst for speedy moving on.

I would be interested to hear some feedback on feelings towards exes - are they still the centre of your social life or just the centre of your dartboard? Would you go to their wedding years down the line or are they now simply a hilarious dinner party anecdote? I would also like to know how to avoid the evil thoughts period and float straight to benevolent smiles and best wishes. Are voodoo dolls and Oscar-worthy acting the only way? Let me know your thoughts.


  1. Great blog as always Lucy. I actually have remained friends with every ex I've had, although with one example of a lengthy period of hatred before a calming of the waters... As always, there is an exception: when the ex got together with one of my friends soon after... both then received permanent exile!

  2. I completely agree with you Lucy, I think it's impossible to be friends with an ex. Perhaps after a good few years some sort of friendship can happen but I can never imagine being a close friend to my ex. I don't have any feelings of hate towards him what so ever though, despite the fact that he treated me terribly (and I mean TERRIBLY). I just got to a point where I couldn't put up with it anymore and moved on and completely bypassed the hate-filled stage. Perhaps the fact that he treated me so badly is why I could never be friends with him - why would I want to be friends with someone capable of such horrible things? - but even if that wasn't the case I'm not sure friends with an ex is something I'd ever be capable of..

  3. being high on hormones and butterflies must have been for a reason, even if the personality wasn't? is there a clear line to be drawn between that spark of attraction and 'that' spark of attraction? You could see someone and think, yes please, or you could talk to someone and think yes please, would that be a simple breakdown?

    I think you are right about the odd individuals who are far too friendly post-break-up.

    I think you are slightly wrong in the way that you consider dealing with a break up, striving to prove to the opposition that you will not die alone and so on. And to move on I don't think that it has to be with either a 'full on new relationship or just a distracting crush'. I think perhaps happiness and security in who you are, what you think about the world we are in, where you see yourself in it and so on are more important than leaning up against someone else. How can you be happy with someone if you are not totally happy with yourself? I hope this doesn't seem like a personal attack, it most definitely is not intended to be, I'm enjoying your posts, and your style.

  4. Thanks for the thoughts so far.

    Mr Curious - being at one with yourself is a lovely prospect, but hugely unlikely at this particular point in my life. I also think it's a bit daydreamy to think that people go from bad break-ups to bettering themselves. Maybe you've been fortunate enough not to have been deeply hurt by someone.

    I have also yet to meet someone who is 'totally happy' with themself. I don't think they'd be very interesting. I like lots of things about myself, and think there are others I could work on, but I'm not going to blame my insecurities for ending my relationships.

    The trouble is, I'm not speculating on how we SHOULD feel and behave when reeling from a breakup, but instead giving you a little insight into the mind of a real female (myself specifically.) If this blog was about ideal scenarios I would be writing about my Caribbean travels, my slim, statuesque figure and my volunteering work with blind orphans.

  5. Caribbean travels, a slim, statuesque figure and volunteering work with blind orphans.. how wonderfully put - surely not an ideal scenario for you though?? Is there not more to life than sun sand and fitting into 'that' dress? (shall not go into the reasons behind the specifics of 'blind orphans' over other orphans or disadvantaged youths ;) .. )

    The insight into the mind of a real female is fantastic, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog.

    Yours in anticipation,

    Mr. Curious