I apologise in advance because this topic provokes the relationship cynic inside me.
But, I write this article with a bucket at the ready, because the thought of getting back together with any of my exes makes me want to vomit. In pursuing research and maintaining hope within others, I attempt to mask my disdain.
I stress that I am trying.
James And His Ex, Again
James and I worked together at an accounting firm. I was an assistant, and he was a junior manager. Two days ago I learned he reunited with his ex-boyfriend. This move has his inner circle, including me, somewhat nervous.
Everyone thinks the pair were horrible together, partly because they were. It didn’t help that James was stoking the fire. He seemed to enjoy telling us at work, during morning tea, what had happened on the weekend. Not that we needed him to. By the third week, we all knew their ritual intimately.
First would be their fight on Friday night. Second would be their Saturday afternoon make-up sex. And finally, their ‘mature’ yet misguided Sunday dinner. They spent the meal discussing their future with false sincerity.
The routine was tedious, for them and for everyone who endured it along with them. Thankfully, it was James who first succumbed to the inevitable.
James insisted I visited his place two days after their breakup. His sprawling South Yarra apartment once beautiful home now looked chaotic.
Moving boxes lined the hallway, and the decorated walls were now bare. His favourite couch was also missing, along with the ornate tasselled cushions. The ex was moving out. And taking all the good stuff, too.
He sat me down on the only remaining couch and poured us both an overflowing glass of French rose. ‘What do you think about him?’
Oh no. Please don’t ask me that.
I gently declined to answer. He pushed the point until I stated that he was a pleasant man, but not right for him. I watched his face sink with disappointment. I immediately felt guilty for giving in to his demand, despite my diplomacy.
Others weren’t so kind, it turns out. He forced almost everyone in the office, and many of his extended family, to share their opinions too. Part of me thought he was seeking for the one person to say we were all wrong. Someone to assure him that he needed his ex-boyfriend back immediately.
But James learned everyone in his life thought he and his ex-boyfriend weren’t right for each other. And some declared their hate for his ex right to James’ heartbroken face. Those were the ones who didn’t implore my sensitivity.
That was a year ago. Two days ago, James declared they were back together. Desperately I wanted to ask why, but the more rational side of me knew saying nothing was a wiser decision.
Here begs the question; would you get back with your ex?
Weston And The Perpetual Ex
Weston (if you don’t know who I’m talking about, read who he is here) was a serial ex-girlfriend desperado. He loved women, but he especially loved women he couldn’t have.
If a girl rejected him, saw through his pseudo chivalry, he pursued them. Weston did everything possible to change the narrative. He became fixated, one woman at a time, about altering their perception of him. Sometimes it worked. Most of the time it worked.
Weston was smooth, after all.
Where’s that bucket I mentioned?
There was one girl, Louise, who he dated and broke up with on three separate occasions. The first time ended because she went overseas to study. She believed it would be better for both of them if they didn’t have to keep up with a long-distance relationship.
I imagined this was code for ‘I want to sleep around, and a boyfriend in another time zone would hinder that’. She also mentioned the other women in his life threatened her, and couldn’t place any faith in his fidelity. But she knew what he was like when she started dating him. Women as best friends, women as his priority. I maintain that she knew what she was getting herself into.
Louise returned to Melbourne six months later, two years earlier than expected. She bitterly lamented that he hadn’t waited for her and that he’d moved on too fast. Although he hadn’t moved on. He was ‘in-between’ women.
Weston fell into a stupor, unsure what his next move should be now ‘the love of his life’ was back in the picture. I told him to ‘get a grip’, and he didn’t speak to me for a week. Tough love didn’t seem to work on Weston.
In that week, he was back with Louise, and the Kingdom branded me the troublemaker.
Their second split was inelegant and pitiful. She had embarrassed him at an event with his parents, getting too drunk at dinner at Vue De Monde. Banning her from their Toorak home seemed the sensible option. It didn’t last long.
I wasn’t friends with Weston during the third reconciliation, but the Kingdom knew it imploded. He cheated on her. They enjoyed hurting each quite a lot.
I always wondered why Weston obsessed over his relationship with Louise. Maybe it was because he could never quite make it work. Maybe it was a desire to rewrite the history books. Maybe it was because she was the one who kept ending it. Maybe he wanted to do it first.
Julie Loved Sleeping With The ‘Ex’
Julie’s messed up pastime was to date the same men over again.
Well, I should clarify. ‘Date’ implies she was in a committed relationship with these guys. And that they endured joyful, conventional romance. I should re-phrase that: Julie’s pastime was to sleep with the same men over and again.
These guys were all the same. They weren’t the boyfriend material. Julie kept sleeping with them in the hope it would lead to a relationship. With every orgasm, she drifted further away from finding a man who loved her.
The strange thing was her method, which I never wholly understood. She reasoned, “If I keep sleeping with them, they will realise they can’t be without me. It’s the opposite of teasing men. It’s making them realise what they want.”
I admired her persistence with these guys. She convinced herself these tactics would work, and the right guy would succumb to her. But they rarely did.
And the same thing happened again and again. The polite, middle of the day sex turned into booty calls at two in the morning. The guy didn’t realise she was ‘the one’. They realised she was their Friday fling, rather than their Sunday bring-home-to-mother lady.
I guess it’s not technically going back to an ex, because you have to be dating someone for them to be an ex. Despite the labels, it was the same torturous process as everyone else. And Julie entertained it.
Anne Never Told You How She Felt About Your Ex
I always enjoyed Anne’s take on dating and the ex. She would never tell you if she liked, loved or loathed who you were dating until you had decided. Then it was a free for all. But when any of The Girls attempted to reconcile with an ex, she remained unnervingly silent.
It was impossible to read her silence, and you could assume she was disapproving. Sometimes I thought she despised dating altogether because she rarely engaged in it. Then the other part of me wondered if she wanted us to be dateless like her.
Misery loves company, it turns out.
But Anne could have been onto something more significant than common bitterness. Dating your ex is rarely a good thing. I’ve never met anyone who happily reunited with an ex and lived happily ever after with them.
I’m sure there will be thousands out there who can refute my experiences, and I’m happy to be wrong. But I’ve never seen it work out. Not in the Private School Kingdom, anyhow.
Why Do We Do This To Ourselves?
I wonder why we want to torture ourselves again.
Do we want to know we’ve suffered all the way to the end of our misery? Do we suppose that there’s something we’ve missed out on? Or a part of the relationship we haven’t finished exploring?
Or are we lazy? Are we choosing the easy alternative? Rather than enduring the finding someone new rigmarole?
Soon I will tell you about my relationship with a man I dated twice. Many would say it was two times too many. And they would be right.
I have a missed call on my phone from James. What the fight was about this time.? Or maybe he’s come to his senses.
Or perhaps this is what love really is.
Pass the bucket.
See you the next time I open the Little Black Book,
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. My want is for a better opportunity for writers, especially fictional, in an increasingly technology dominant world. I write the stories that have formed my life and comment on the experience along the way.