Today I’ve decided to get very honest, but not in the way I usually do. And that’s a bit scary, but I figured, hey, I’m just going to go there anyways.
So grab your pinot noir, put Homegrown Christmas starring Lori Loughlin on mute, and heat up last night’s 2AM pizza, because TODAY WE’RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE COMMON EX BOYFRIEND.
Recently, I’ve “reconnected” with an ex boyfriend. Please breathe before you start judging me, because I’m pretty sure this is something we can all say we’ve done before. And then please zoom in on this next sentence: this is not a romantic reconnection (ABSOLUTELY NOT), just a general one. Oh God I feel so much shame in typing this. BUT THIS IS ME BEING HONEST WHICH IS WHAT I KEEP SAYING I GOTTA DO. I’ve mentioned him briefly in other posts before, but this person, whom we shall call Todd, because I feel like Todd is a super douchey name, and am I really going to assign him a fake name right now wait where was I? Oh right right. So Todd and I did not speak for about three years. Probably closer to four years. And when I say we did not speak, I mean we. Did. Not. Speak. We actively hated each other. If we were in the same room, it was like Hilary and Lindsay circa Aaron Carter. Which got very complicated because we went to college together and shared a LOT of our friends, and it wasn’t too rare that we were in the same room. Basically for a while, whenever there was be a party or we’d go out to a bar or what have you, if the two of us were there it was drama.
For the first six months after we broke up, whenever we were in the same place it would either end up with us in a screaming match, or with us going home with each other. So basically either way it ended with all of our friends rolling their eyes and saying, “Here we go again…”
Todd and I dated for two years in college. Wow, I’m really regretting this whole Todd thing but I feel like I’m already too deep in it to go back. When we started seeing each other, I kept it hidden from my friends because they didn’t really approve of him (he was younger, he didn’t have the best rep, they didn’t know him…). So things started off on a sketchy level with my friends right away. But that also made it fun because it seemed like a “forbidden romance” and there was a lot of sneaking around.
So we started dating, and I fell very hard very fast. That’s something I do. I’ve been in love definitely twice, maybe three times (still undecided on one of them..) and each time I knew it after only a few weeks. Which I’m sure a lot of people would doubt and find reckless, but I kinda think it makes me more interesting. Another side note (have I sidenoted yet?): I consider Todd my first love. Even though the other ones came before him, he’s the one who it all played out with — my first long relationship. Even though when I think about it, he’s not actually my “first love.”
So anyway, I feel in love with Todd very quickly. TODD LMAO. Biggest issue, besides my friends — who did end up finding out of course, and who never did truly approve — was that I was getting ready to move to London for a semester. Everyone kept telling me, “You CAN’T go abroad with a boyfriend.” Well, I did it anyway. And if there’s one thing I wish I could go back and tell my 20-year-old self it would be, “You CAN’T go abroad with a boyfriend.” It’s a huge regret of mine, but I can’t do anything about it now. And though it doesn’t necessarily make me feel better to admit, I did manage to have a bit of fun, winky face…
So London happens, and it wasn’t great. I get back and go into my senior year, and that wasn’t great either. Something that is very important, in fact the only thing that really matters now about our relationship besides the fact that I really did love him, is that we were a very volatile couple. We did not bring out the best in each other. We actually did the opposite. So that obviously gets complicated. I think that the when the person you love most in the world is also the person who turns you into someone that you don’t want to be… well, I think that can be very heartbreaking. And I think that it was also a bit scary how much I depended on him. Sometimes I think, gee, if that’s love, I’m not sure I want that again. Unless it’s with Richard Madden. And It’s also extremely heartbreaking when that person goes on to betray you. HOWEVER, as I often do, I digress. What you need to know is this: we had a very messy break up, our friends used to joke about it as “The Divorce,” and we did not speak for a very long time.
So yes, that’s a very VERY short summary of what you need to know.
We ran into each other at a college event a little less than three months ago. It was an alumni mixer at a bar in the village, and definitely not what I would have considered “his scene,” so I was shocked to see he and his friend Jesse walk through the door. I actually just looked at my friend whom I was standing with up at the bar and said “TEQUILA?” and we started doing shots. *Cue “All My Friends Say I started shooting double when you walked in”*
So Todd and I make eye contact almost as soon as he walks in (right after I ordered the aforementioned tequeelz o’neals) and we do the “hello nod with weird white people smile” from across the bar. My stomach drops to roughly Bondi Beach, and I’m like AIGHT WELL THIS HAS HAPPENED. Luckily I’m not there with the group of friends that we shared, but with a different group that he never knew. So at least I feel a little protected.
A little while after, once the Felix Felicis was flowing, I noticed that we’re standing near each other, and I decide to go ahead and bite the bullet.
I had found out that very week actually that his grandfather had recently passed away. His dad was not in the picture, so his Grandfather had always been his father figure. He died a month to the day after my mom did. Weird, right? So I made my way over to offer my condolences. I immediately apologized for not reaching out, explaining that I had only found out about it a few days before (he had passed a month earlier, so I feel weird about doing it after all that time..). He was kind, thanked me, and in returned offered a few words about my mom. The day after she passed he sent me an absolutely lovely text that I could tell he actually put a good deal of thought into. I would say I was surprised, but I also I’m pretty sure a few days before that I had actually said verbatim, “If Todd doesn’t text me when mom dies he’s a real piece of shit.” I’m lovely, I know.
SO WE SEE EACH OTHER that night, and have a conversation, in fact the first conversation that hasn’t resulted with one of us telling the other to fuck off in three years. We go through the pleasantries: Are you living here in the city? Where are you working? How is that going, etc, etc. And it wasn’t awful. And I was pleased that I made it through it. And then I went and had about 3 more drinks. About an hour later, he was standing in group near my friends talking with girls that were in his class at school. At one point I hear him call my name, “Hey, Ails, doesn’t Jesse’s jacket look familiar to you?” I noticed immediately when I saw him that Jesse was wearing Todd’s leather jacket. But I’m so stunned that he’s 1) just called me by his old nickname for me and 2) casually brought me into this conversation as if we’re old friends, that all I can manage is an, “Um yeah, it’s yours, yeah?”
It was weird. And a little unsettling. Later that night when he and Jesse were leaving, he came over to find me and say goodbye, and to give me a hug. Also weird. But fine, I suppose.
The next day I think I followed him on Instagram. He followed me back. A white flag if you will. It didn’t mean anything. and on my part was purely innocent. I noticed almost immediately that he was watching my Instagram stories, and I couldn’t become unaware of it.
I quickly “muted” his stories so that I couldn’t see them. Not out of any malintent, just simply because I thought that it was probably smarter knowing myself to not be watching his videos all of the time. Because, while yes, I did spend 4 years hating his guts and being absolutely disgusted with what he did to me, he was still ultimately my first true love, and I think that there’s a part of every person that will always have a soft spot for their first love.
He slowly starts responding to some of my stories, but I never interacted. That’s not why I decided to connect with him on social media. It really was just me trying to put up a truce and hope that we could move past everything. Forgive, but never forget, I always say.
I decided to give him a bit of a bone in the day or two after Thanksgiving. I saw something that he has posted, and it made me realize that he was probably having just a hard time with the holiday as I was. So I sent a funny response to the post, followed by short & sweet message, just saying that I hoped that Thanksgiving went well, and that I had been thinking of his family. That was all. Not meant to go any farther I SWEAR. And of course, it turns into a conversation. And of course at one point I swear he was flirting with me. And I’m just like NO. NOPE. NOT HAPPENING. ABSOLUTELY NOT. And ended the conversation. And that was that.
I ran into him at a party side note #349 I just tried to take a sip of red wine and completely missed my mouth and it went all over my white robe.
So I ran into him at a party on Friday night. I got there about two hours after it started after meeting up with some friends at a bar, so I was tipsy. He was too. It took a while for me to see him, and at first I thought that he wasn’t there, and I had a big sense of relief. But then I did see him, so decided to rip the bandaid off and say hello. So I did. Great. We move back to the respective groups we’re talking to, and eventually find each other standing close by. We ended up both reaching towards the bar at the same time, and kind of had no choice but to speak.
So I ask him how he is, and I guess he thought I meant how was he dealing with everything. Which I really was just trying to do the whole polite small talk thing and was super unprepared for everything that he was going to say. He immediately started talking about feelings and thoughts that I’ve been having, describing exact experiences I’ve gone through since July, and dammit this red wine is really going to stain this fucking robe, and before I know it we’re in deep conversation about being in your early/mid-twenties and dealing with losing a parent. We talked about how hard it is to relate to people, and the phrases that we feel like we’re going to spontaneously combust if we hear them again. In the middle of it all I found myself laughing ironically and said, “It’s funny isn’t it — that the one person who actually gets all of this, is the one person you can’t talk to?”
Not long after that someone arrived and distracted us. We continued to chat a little bit after that for the rest of the night, but nothing of real substance. If anything I guess I just tried to get across the idea, Hey I know this is super weird and awkward, but look, we’re getting along! It was weird and uncomfortable, but also sort of nice on a level.
Yesterday he texted me. And let me just say, no I did not still have his number, I deleted that shit years ago, right before I blocked him on every platform of social media. So he texts me, and I’m thinking, oh great, here we fucking go. It was a nice text. “It was good to see you/ good chat/ if you ever want to talk to someone about all of this, you can always talk to me.” It was kind. And innocent, I hope. We talked a bit more, and then I knew that it was time to end the conversation.
Do you think it’s possible to be just friends with an ex? I’m great friends with another ex, from high school but I also can’t truthfully say that we haven’t crossed “the line” once or twice. I’m not sure if I could do the whole friends thing with this one. Or if I’d ever want to. Part of me is relieved and likes the idea of being able to interact every now and then, but then there’s also a part that is skeptical and thinks it’s simply not a good idea. And then, you know, there’s also the part of me that gets irrationally angry four years later about shitty things that he once did.
But I know that I’m definitely not the only person who’s ever had this thought before. That’s comforting, right? That there are things this silly and mundane that we all think about? Relationships are weird, man. Sometimes don’t you wish you could just Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind them?