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Don't Mention The Ex!

Jul 31, 2013

The first rule of going on a date with another girl is Do Not Talk About Your Ex. The second rule of going on a date with another girl is – well, you get the idea.
I hope you read this aghast, wondering, ‘Who actually does that?’  In answer to your question: people do it. All the time. They really do.
Okay, perhaps all the time is a slight exaggeration, but the last three women I’ve been on dates with have not only discussed their ex-girlfriends with me but also provided visual aids. Facebook, Instagram, and, of course, the unforgiving memories of their smart phones, hosted a flock of their ex’s best duck face poses.
Do I sound bitter? I’m not. I’m astonished.
The third time this happened I decided that perhaps I was the one with a problem. Maybe it is normal to allude to past dating experiences with pictorial evidence? So, I joined in. Stop laughing at me. It isn’t funny; I was confused.
Afterwards I felt as thought I had swum in a swimming pool of expired sunny delight; sticky, disgusting, and like I had entered a warped pre-adolescent alternate dimension, coupled with a bizarre sense of betrayal towards my ex-girlfriend.
Okay, so context is important here: as a teenager when I wanted to deftly (or so I thought) allude to hankering for the same-sex it was helpful to throw out the phrase “My ex-girlfriend…” Yes, I’m embarrassed for younger me as well. I am of the opinion, though, that this rules becomes more applicable with age. Ex mentioning for the sake of an obvious allusion to sexuality becomes less necessary when you’ve matured slightly, especially if you’re making small talk at a girl night, right?
I can sort of understand why people still do it now: I mean this was the last person you were marshmallow soft with, and you’re hoping to get marshmallow soft with this prospective person. So, in a way, it’s a compliment. But, let’s be honest, it’s probably a bit nicer to just tell her that you like her haircut (at which point she may, if she does not follow this rule, she may turn around and say that she got it cut after she broke up with her ex…)
There may be situations where it is useful, for the sake of conversational mobilization, to mention an ex-girlfriend. I mean let’s say your ex-girlfriend’s brother was a professional cyclist, and then this new girl begins a conversation with you about taking up cycling. The solution here is simple: cut the “ex-girl” bit off and say “my friend”, or even “someone I know”.
If you insist upon breaking this golden rule that I have just invented; if you absolutely cannot resist “ex dropping”, then make your anecdotes more about yourself and less about her. Hopefully the person you’re going on a date with is more into you than the last person you slept with, otherwise it might sound as though you are setting up some sort of peculiar emotional assault course for this new girl. Worse yet, you may discover, in this small world of lesbian larks, that she already knows who your ex-girlfriend is… and used to babysit her pet cat or something.

Nayla is fascinated by queer issues. She also enjoys sunshine, tea, and writing… particularly when she is talking about herself in the third person. Follow her on twitter @naylatweetshere

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