Exes and Whys

Return to the Blogs and Thought Pieces index

We had a dinner party! A very nice, very middle class affair altogether. People who knew eachother well and have done so for a long time.

I don’t recall how the conversation crept on to the hairy subject of ex-partners but it did. Of course I was keen, being the inquisitive and improper imp that I am.

The realisation came that we the people have a very wide range of views on what place an ex-lover is allowed to retain in your after-life with another. On the one extreme, some partners will not permit the exes name to be mentioned, will absolutely not permit their partner to have any contact whatever with them and, in one case known to our number that evening, will even get angry if an ex is referred to with affection in a historical biography of their current significant other! The suggestion that it might be OK for your darling spouse to retain a friendship with an ex is, for some, a potential deal-breaker!

At the other end of the spectrum are those who happily go on holiday with their current partner and his or her ex, will organise family gatherings together and become bosom buddies.

I have more questions here than answers. why? Why some and not others? Whose problem is this? Is it to do with the individuals, the insecurity, the control or something more visceral? Is it to do with how or why the old affair ended?

I can only tell anyone how I feel about this matter, not how others might feel or why? For me, some of my closest bonds still lie with former girlfriends, wives, lovers. The truthful human explanation is that, if you liked them a lot first, there is no reason why you shouldn’t continue to like them a lot, unless they did something so terminally bad on breakup it is unforgiveable. But bearing in mind none of us conduct ourselves particularly well at such moments, it would have to be a pretty heinous crime wouldn’t it that required permanent ostracisation?

I don’t want to run off into the sunset with them; I don’t want to break up anyone’s happy home; I don’t have any wish to turn back the clock and resume our relationship. But I do want to still cherish them. I want to look nice if I meet them and be nice with them. For me, more than anything else, I trust them. So maybe that is me after all … I don’t trust people easily since I was ripped off by someone in a position of trust. Somehow I think an ex won’t stitch me up, will listen to me and won’t pass it on, will understand a few things about me that go way back and may even shed light on something current … hell, they may even help me make my current relationship work better!

We’re planning another dinner party soon. Guests will include my partner Shelley’s ex of 30 years ago and his wife. The week before that we’re going up to Colchester to have lunch with an ex of mine of 40 years ago who is mending Shelley’s beautiful silk shirt from her mother.

For me, that’s all as it should be.

Return to the Blogs and Thought Pieces index