Ex Etiquette

Exes are a weird thing. It’s funny to think that there are people with whom you were once so close, who can become as foreign to you as a passer by on the street. Like…I don’t know, strangers with history I guess. I’m not good at exes. Of the small number of people I have been romantically involved with, I am only still in contact with one of them. And whilst she and I are really good friends still, I can’t say the same for everyone I have been in a relationship with. The other couple have become, in the months or years since we were involved, effectively non existent to me. Which, I suppose, is often how these things go.

I’m very good at the avoidance game, but the problem with living in the same town for most of my life is that it is regrettably inevitable that I am going to run into my exes from time to time. And regardless of how good I am at pretending to be really intently focused on my phone when someone that I used to know walks by, it doesn’t help the feeling of awkwardness that often comes with it.

The thing about breaking up with someone, is that often there is collateral damage as well. You meet their friends, they meet your friends. In many cases, families get involved. What are you supposed to do about potential friendships that may evolve during the course of a relationship? Are you supposed to end your friendships with people when you end a relationship with the person who introduced you to them? Moreover, is it weird to befriend your friend’s ex after they have broken up? I’m still not sure how I feel about this one. I wouldn’t like to be told who I can and can not be friends with, but there would certainly be some awkwardness in remaining friends with the friend of someone you no longer have in common. Particularly if that once common thread is the only reason you knew each other anyway.

And in the cases of exes who remain friends, what is the right course of action when your ex partner’s new significant other doesn’t like you very much, on the very basis of you both having dated the same person? I think jealousy is an irrational emotion at the best of times, but when you throw romance into the mix…I’d rather just avoid the whole thing altogether. It can be a tricky situation to manoeuvre, because no one wants to be the cause of argument, or certainly end up arguing about someone else.

The thing is, I have never been broken up with. As a staunch hater of people, with an inability to commit to anything long term (I am afflicted with a restless spirit, what can I say?), I have always been the one to end a relationship. As such, the choice to no longer see someone – and by extension, their friends – lies with me. Often, I opt to cut them out entirely, for the above mentioned reasons. Look, maybe I’m just a bad person, but for me once something is done, it’s pretty much done, and I don’t see any reason to hold on. I have had moments where I have considered reconnecting with old flames, but my logical mind wins out every time, and reminds me that I broke things off with those people for a reason. Besides, what is there to be gained from reopening old wounds?

Like any situation in which people are involved, things have a way of becoming complicated. It’s all part of the human experience, I figure. If you can navigate your way around relationships – and their subsequent end – without being too significantly scarred, then you’re doing ok.

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