Unless you are dealing with someone that is so young that they haven’t had time to have a significant ex in their life, in which case, read this, your new romantic interest will no doubt have a former flame that has loomed large in their dating history. Anyone they have married, been engaged to or has borne their child will likely trigger a glimmer of curiosity which, if you give it any attention, has the potential to embed itself in your brain like a rare and untreatable waterborne parasite. Poke at that sucker by asking questions about the ex, and it will morph into a Guinness-book-of-records-sized slug that will suck the living daylights out of all your internal organs quicker than a Lindsay Lohan period of good behaviour.
Sure, there are always the exes that will allow you, by contrast, to appear as the pinnacle of beauty, sanity, honesty and just plain good manners. You might find someone that has had the misfortune to have an ex like one of these celebrities do:
- Paris Hilton – whose ex distinguished himself by releasing that unfortunate home movie (although the jury is still out as to whether that may represent her finest acting achievement)
- Sandra Bullock – whose Oscar moment was ruined by fiancé Jesse James running off with a trashy tattoo model. Hollywood princess vs bad boy rarely ends well and this one was a descendant of the actual outlaw of the same name, not just a cashed up heir with some antisocial traits. Poor Sandy.
- Tiger Woods. No need to elaborate.
For every ex that may allow you to shine by comparison, there are many more that will cause you nothing but angst if you examine them too closely.
Accept that there are exes you simply can’t be.
One – the mother of his first child. Regardless of how this relationship ended, there is a bond with this ex that has endured things that if you are childless, you will never know. Ultrasounds, which personally, I can’t view without wanting to screech out loud ‘SEE!!! We are ALL DESCENDED FROM ALIEN BEINGS’ The incessant vomiting of morning sickness that mirrors a never-ending hangover without the preceding uproarious good time that means you deserve it. The rigors of childbirth, which despite all progress in every other realm of human life, still resembles a barbaric ritual of the dark ages. They’ve survived that, been rewarded with a beautiful child, and even if you are keen and biologically able to replicate it, that original bond will still stand alongside yours.
A physical copy of his ex. You are not going to be a carbon copy of those who have gone before you – unless your love interest has a near-psychopathic addiction to a certain physical type (hello, I’m looking at you Leonardo Di Caprio)
Here’s a tip – NOR SHOULD YOU TRY TO BE.
There are endless reasons to avoid any possibility of ever seeing a photo of his ex. The prime reason is that the innate laws of the feminine universe dictate that if there are two photos, you will see this one
not this one
From that point, you can’t unsee it and the next thing you know, in an effort to emulate your ex’s natural tumbling curls, you are in a hairdresser’s chair staring at your new 80s style spiral perm. About four weeks later you will spend the cost of a smart pair of Italian shoes getting it put back to normal again, with the unfortunate postscript being that you got your passport renewed in between and you now have to explain that hairstyle brain-snap for the next ten years.
A competitor, if she has some freakish god-given talent. There are many things that you simply can’t learn without some kind of underlying talent. Playing piano by ear, pulling off ‘Dancing like the stars’ style moves, singing (and no, your booze-fuelled karaoke efforts do not constitute singing…there are still Tokyo residents with bleeding ears from your last efforts), being a fearless black run skier. I can personally vouch for all of these.
If the ex factor does start to crawl round in your brain, hold back from trying to transform yourself and just mentally endow her with a mythical set of very unfortunate personality traits. Choose from any one or combination of these.
- Dubious personal grooming – like Julia Roberts in her underarm hair era
- Nails on a blackboard voice – eg Fran from The Nanny or Ross’ girlfriend Janice from Friends.
- The intelligence of Miss South Carolina 2007 who responded as follows to the question about why many Americans can’t locate the US on a map….
There’s bound to be a very good reason why they broke up. Find it. Or invent it.