Meeting the Ex. We all have to face it at some point


Problems of a 21st century girl


There is potentially no experience more awkward than coming face to face with your ex. It’s that one thing that we all, at some point or another, have had to face – usually when it is least expected and we’re running around Tesco in our pyjama bottoms with no make up on.

I have friends who, upon seeing their ex walking towards them on the street, have literally turned around and started running in the opposite direction. In one particularly desperate scenario, I once ran up to and hugged a total stranger in the middle of a club, so that my ex wouldn’t be able to see me as he walked passed. After a few weeks and several glasses of rosé to digest the situation, the whole thing is totally hilarious and the desperate measures seem ridiculous. But even after recognising how stupid running away from the ex is, if we happen to bump into them unexpectedly again we still end up doing things like, oh, I don’t know, hiding behind a rail of clothes in the middle of Burtons with new confused girlfriend in tow, as happened to another friend of mine one mortifying day.

However, I was faced with a new dilemma: meeting the ex on purpose for a mutual attempt of the let’s-be-friends idea. For any readers who don’t remember, or didn’t see my rather emotional last article Break up’s vs. Social Media: my ex boyfriend Jack* and I had split on reasonable terms after around a year together, as we realised our timing wasn’t right and that we weren’t working. A couple of months of online stalking were then assumed by me, a vow of silence by him.

Yet almost a year later, contact began and we met, attempting to act like watching a film in my bedroom and snogging throughout the entirety of it was the most normal thing in the world. I’m pretty sure we’ve all undergone the accidental ‘oops, I did you again’ at some point in our lives, but in this case we really did want to try and be platonic, so as to avoid any complications (though I’ll admit I still made sure to wear my nicest underwear and that my make up was pristine, better to be safe than sorry).

So, he arrived at my abnormally clean student house – just me making the effort to pick up the hoover was enough to show that just being friends was never going to happen – and after an awkward, yet strangely familiar hug, we made our way out to get something to eat. Nearly a year had gone by, but I could still feel myself wanting to reach for his hand as we walked down the street together. It was like no time had gone by at all, yet we seemed to be getting on better than we ever had before, even if there was a bit of an awkward edge to everything that we did or talked about.

In the midst of trying not to brush elbows on the arm rest in the cinema, the worlds longest, most graphic sex scene in the world decided to play out on the huge screen in front of us. Typical! I swear, if I hadn’t gone and seen that film with my ex, that scene would have never existed, thank you world, thank you so much. After that mortifying experience, it was only natural that we went to a bar and drank away the last of our shame, right? And who could blame us?

Now, for the moral of the story, if you really do just want to be friends with your ex (as in, it doesn’t even occur to you to put on decent underwear when you know you’re meeting them and you don’t feel the need to re-do your hair every 5 minutes before they arrive), do not drink your senses away in cider. I will admit to you that yes, the inevitable happened – shocker, I know – but luckily for me it is so far so good and this does seem to have worked out for the best. However, I definitely think that this luck is rare and that 9 out of 10 times, meeting the ex will end in disaster in some way or another, as previous experience has shown me and many other girls out there.

Who knows, it still could end in disaster for me yet, I’ll keep you posted. I suppose time will tell if any of us 21st Century Girls should just avoid the ex altogether and stick instead to the awkwardness of first dates and drunken exchanges of phone numbers. But then, sometimes, even the biggest mistakes can be the most fun in the making and right now I couldn’t be happier. As Zak Efron’s tattoo tackily reminds us, you only live once, so we should all certainly intend to make the most of it.

Photograph by catherine, via Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons Licence

Cate Triner

Cate is an English student at Loughborough University and takes creative writing classes in her free time. Her social comment column, Problems of a 21st Century Girl, appears on The Re|view since December 2013.

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