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.

The Mystery of Online Dating

I’ve talked about this before, but I don’t date. Eternally confused as to how people meet people, I tend to give anything involving (potential) romance a rather wide berth. Two parts awkwardness, one part self sabotage, and a heavy dollop of social anxiety. But I spent this weekend sewing for a small start up business, and the owner mentioned in casual conversation how she and her boyfriend of nearly two years, met on Tinder. Shortly after that conversation, I got a text from my brother’s girlfriend, who he met on Tinder. And so I got to thinking; since finding love on the internet is just considered the norm these days, how does the whole thing work?

Without the physical person there, you essentially have to trust that the profile you’re looking at is a) legit and b) honest. I mean, let’s be real; that pretty blonde girl you’ve been chatting up could very well be a 70 year old dude. But that aside, the popularity of internet dating sites comes with a few questions. What is it about dating online that has such an appeal? Is it because trying to meet people without that common platform is hard? Is it because it’s convenient? Or is it because, in this modern age of technology, it’s the only way we know how?

When you meet someone in real life, you can have a conversation – or no conversation – and it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly, whether you and that person have what the movies call a ‘spark’. But again, without that personal interaction and physical response, you have to trust the profile. So what kind of information do people look for in a dating site profile? Do you put your interests and hobbies down, or is that, like, so ten years ago? Do you put down no information at all, and hope that your photos are enough to pique interest? If some of the profiles I’ve seen* are anything to go by, it would appear that the more obscene your bio, the more likely you are to have people ‘swipe right’ (and yes, I did just have to Google that to make sure I got the direction correct).

I suppose it comes down to what you’re looking for. If you just want kinky sex, the profile declaring “FIST ME” in bold letters might be more your thing than the profile that reads “I love kitties and Jesus and I just wanna cuddle”. I mean, I’m not saying that being sexually experimental and loving Jesus are mutually exclusive, but what you attract all depends on what you put out there.

In a way, internet dating reminds me of advertising. Dating sites are asking people to literally take you at face value, and with so many gazillions of products profiles out there, you have to have something that sets you apart from the rest. Whether you’re looking for love, or just someone to knock boots with, you have to make yourself seem appealing to potential bang buddies/your one true love. Because you’re not just competing with the other singles in this one shitty club; you’re competing with all the available people on an infinitely huge website.

I think the dating world, either online or in real life, will forever remain a mystery to me. I mean, my ideal date is a horror movie, munchies and a warm blanket on the couch. Entirely. By. Myself.

*I obviously don’t have a dating profile, but friends of mine do. And man, I’ve seen some shit.

Serial Singleness

Everyone seems to be falling in love lately. My social media newsfeeds are flooded with wedding photos and engagement announcements, loved up date night posts and kissing snaps. And me? I’m settling in with a big fuck off glass of wine, some peanut brittle and a blanket on the couch. My only company is the ghost, and dead guys just don’t do it for me.

I’m a bit of a singular entity. None of my relationships have ever lasted that long, and I am the kind of person that gets sick of other people quickly. So how do they do it? How is it that so many people I know seem to be happily settling into coupledom? Is it magic? Do you follow some scientific formula and end up in a relationship? Or do you just have to barrel on in and hope for the best?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to hop aboard the Tinder train or anything. But when everyone around you is getting into relationships and moving in together and making gooey eyes at each other until you feel vaguely ill, it kind of makes you ponder your serial singleness. And it occurs to me that being single has such a stigma attached to it. So much so that some people become afraid to be alone, and will subsequently stay in bad or toxic relationships because they think it’s the lesser of two evils. Now, I don’t know about you, but something in that scenario seems hugely wrong to me.

To be honest, dating has never been a big thing with me. I’ve never met someone I want to settle down with. I mean, my ex is great and we’re awesome friends now, but our short lived relationship was the result of a romantic incompatibility. And that was over three years ago and I’ve been single ever since. I’m not sure I’d know how to date anymore! The strange thing is that when you’re single, all the coupley people, whether they realise it or not, they kind of pity you a little. It’s like there’s this notion that if you’re single then you must be lonely, and pitiable. Because how could you possibly be content if you don’t get to curl up with someone at night, right?

I guess the point I’m driving at here, albeit confusingly, is that it’s such a socially accepted thing to be in a relationship. It usually follows the ‘date, get engaged, get married’ formula and no one questions it. And yet people question being single all the time. I’m forever being asked how my love life is, or of I’ve met anyone lately, or getting a condescending pat and a ‘don’t worry, you’ll find a nice girl one day’. Or if it’s not that, it’s the ‘oh my god, how are you single?’ I’m single the same way you’re an asshat. And excuse me, people in relationships, but I don’t need your pity and I don’t need a consolation sigh. Leave me alone with my wine and my couch and my ghost, I assure you I’m quite content!

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And then there's this...

My Not Dating is a Lifestyle Choice

I don’t date. Like, pretty much ever. Of my nearly 23 years, I’ve been single for 22 and a half of them. And honestly, I can’t imagine anything worse than ‘dating’. Even if you take my penchant for enjoying my own company out of the equation, I would much prefer to be single and content, than dating and miserable.

I know a girl, and I guess she is what you might consider a serial dater. She’s constantly going on dates with different men, expecting that each new guy will be different than the last one…ten…hundred. And she always walks away disappointed because he didn’t call, or he didn’t respond to her texts or he didn’t even turn up. Yet despite every disappointment, she insists on hooking up with man after man, in a desperate attempt to complete her trifecta. You see, she has a career and owns her own house but she’s missing the husband. And apparently you can’t be happy unless you fit into society’s ideal.

The girl in question is always talking to my best friend, asking his advice on things like whether guys like independent women, or how many dates she should go on before sex. It strikes me as incredibly sad that a woman in her mid twenties is still more concerned with appeasing men than she is with being happy within herself. And so, she dates. But the thing is, she thinks the problems are always with the guy, and conveniently overlooks her own issues.

She is looking for Brad Pitt, with Einstein intelligence and bedroom abilities of a sex god. And good for her, if she can find a guy that meets her vastly unrealistic expectations. No one should have to settle for mediocre, after all. But what about just good? Why do people so often have to set impossible criteria for potential partners? You can’t go through life being unreasonably picky and then complaining that you can’t get a date.

Honestly, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about dating. With everything I hear and see of my friends, I genuinely believe I’m better off. So often, these dates result in one or both parties being unhappy and going home at the end of the night feeling shit about themselves. Being single has never bothered me, and being out of the dating scene is more of a relief than anything else. The truth is, I wouldn’t even know what to do on a date. I’ll leave the dating to everyone else, excuse me while I go get up close and personal with a book and a cup of tea.

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Or probably pizza. Good thinking, man.