The EX Factor

This post is in honor of November being Funchilde’s worst month for romantic relationships.
November 1985: Jr. High School Crush ends at Dance
November 1988: Dumped guy who would become successful engineer and varsity swimmer in college
November 1990: Met now ex husband
November 2001: Now have ex husband
November 2005: Split with S, another itchy footed globe-trotter to pursue non-complimentary travel paths

I was talking on the phone with one of my best friends last year after a break-up. She called me a jerk for ignoring the overtures of friendship from my most recent ex. [who calls anyone a “jerk anymore? ] I have to admit that I have never understood people who are friends with people they were once romantically involved with. I guess I took the “ex” to mean “former” as in “no longer relevant” or as Tony Soprano might say “You’re dead to me!” However, it seems that I am not as emotionally healthy or self-actualized as the rest of you. Case in point, I was working on a project with K, a male colleague a few months ago. Around lunch time he said “My ex-wife is coming to meet me for lunch so I have to bail in 20 minutes.” My eyes sparkled at the thought of all the potential drama and afternoon entertainment this might provide. Would there be yelling? flying chinaware? or better yet, sharpened cutlery close at hand? K’s ex-wife showed up brimming with good humor, she grabbed his hand in hers, a warm, platonic gesture of friendship and shook my hand with the other. She was attractive and confident and did not seem the least bit angry or passive aggressive. My hopes for an entertaining afternoon flew out the window as K said “D, this is T, my ex-wife.” I just stared at them, my eyelids shutting slowly and almost audibly. “You guys seem awfully friendly to be exes.” I said. “Oh, we’re best friends! We just couldn’t live together!” This didn’t really clarify things for me. I mean, I feel like that about almost everyone in my life. That’s why they are called “Best Friends”, not exes.

The way I see it, there are really only two responses to becoming an “ex”. First, if I dumped YOU then CLEARLY you have committed some transgression so egregious that I felt the need to banish you from my sight. Never mind that these could be small things such as misusing words or failing to spell check your e-mails, or breathing too “moistly” during a movie. Now I don’t want to boast, but I am pretty good at building and maintaining relationships. I STILL talk to my best friend from Jr. High, my best friend from high school and my roommate and closest friend from college. I have unnaturally healthy relationships with my parents, and typical ones with my two siblings. That said, when I hear the bells toll or see the sun setting on a relationship, I try to exit as cleanly as possible, preferring that my disappearance is hardly noticed at all. I have never been one of “those people” who after a split, calls the ex or waits for the ex to call, stalks the ex or tries to find myself in places where they might happen upon me. Well, except that one time, and everyone is allowed that “one time”. If I am the dumper, no amount of discussion or reflection will result in the verdict being overturned. To me this generally indicates that there is a lack of general goodwill and affection, which I thought were the basis of friendship?

In the second scenario, if you dump ME, then CLEARLY you are of limited intelligence and have proven yourself emotionally handicapped. I have no problem believing it when someone says to me: “It’s not you, its me.” The way I see it, if someone declines the pleasure of my company then my life’s goal from that point on is to ensure that they receive periodic 2nd hand reports about how fabulous my life is, how much money I make and most important, how much earth stopping nooky I’m getting. I thought this was the universal response to being dumped? I mean, ex friends, ex colleagues and ex lovers are the only true fair game in my book. These are people with whom you have no real mutual desire or need to sustain civility. These are the people whose picture you can put on your dartboard at home or make voodoo dolls out of to assuage your anger. Who hasn’t thought about TP’ing an ex’s house or car? Now if your ex has several very attractive friends that you wouldn’t mind hooking up with I could see the benefit, or if your ex has really great seats to the Eagles or Sixers games, I’d understand, and if you still had occasion to do the nasty with your ex, I could forgive you, but just for the heck of it? I don’t get it. I’m going to need you all to get with the program on this one, because you are limiting my entertainment options with all of these healthy, emotionally adjusted relationships. I mean, who will Jerry Springer call if not the poor, downtrodden, angry masses of doomed romantics? I’m just sayin’.

*graphic courtesy of

To S: you know i’m only kiddin!

7 thoughts on “The EX Factor”

  1. Dia,
    As you know…I have been significantly dumped and also did the dumping – One ex-husband (he did me a favor I guess, but I still think of what could have been financially speaking). The second ex-husband – I dumped (I hung on too long, but no regrets for dumping) and third husband – the ultimate dumping – he died. I have had several relationships, some short some long, but I never left or was left without thinking that I could meet them on the street and be civil. I have had moments of extreme loathing, wishing them harm and thoughts of poor me, but that is in the past.

  2. then my life’s goal from that point on is to ensure that they receive periodic 2nd hand reports about how fabulous my life is

    That cracked my ass UP!!

    Thankfully, I ‘ve been with the same person for nearly all of my adult life, so I have limited experience with exes. Seems weird to me though…the whole BFF thing.

  3. I’m sorta with you on this – I mean if two peopel could work things out, wouldn’t they be together – and if they couldn’t, why are they together now?

    Of course my “almost” ex – since we only ever got to long term dating and flirtation got sucked into the gravity hole of a class 1 jerk (and a guy to boot!). So, while I felt bad for her, her poor lack of judgement (in picking him over me) sort of has it’s own punishment doesn’t it? (Class A as in has a garage band, but blames his lack of success on her, not on the fact that he plays…in a garage?).

    Really good funny discriptions in this entry – I too would expect firework when an “ex” drops by for lunch.

  4. “transgression so egregious” I am using those words three times (at least) today. Good and lovely words.

    Um, I’m one of those people who has some friends that are exes. I don’t really get it myself. I have only been dumped once (that shocks and amazes me) but it really got to me – and I couldn’t be friends with him. Hypocrite? Yahsure. But, we all have vices. I just figure, if I liked someone or loved someone enough to have the basis for a relationship – it seems pretty likely that I might be able to establish at the very least a friendship with said person. There are a few exceptions, however.

  5. I agree with Other Elizabeth. Generally when I’ve liked/loved someone to have them share my life with me for a little while, the fact that for one reason or another we weren’t the perfect match doesn’t phase me. I’m friends and at least friendly with many of my exes. With few exceptions I think they’re great guys, who weren’t great for me.

    I’m also happy that my man is friends with his ex-wife. Especially since they have children together, being able to be friendly with one another is best for all concerned.

  6. key point –> “Now if your ex has several very attractive friends that you wouldn’t mind hooking up with I could see the benefit, or if your ex has really great seats to the Eagles or Sixers games, I’d understand, and if you still had occasion to do the nasty with your ex, I could forgive you.”

    You know I am the queen of maintaining relationships with exes. My exes know me very well AND they’re still single. This often comes in handy when looking for free lodging and/or good times when traveling. Twice, an ex introduced me to the next. That’s because my exes also have very attractive friends.

    Granted there are a few exes that I do not intend to ever see or speak to again. These are the evil exes. (Read: That ish shoulda never happened.) But on the whole, exes make good buddies. They make fun of me, keep me humble, look out for me once in a while, and send me corny email forwards.


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