Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Ex Factor: a Practical Chick's Guide to surviving close encounters

You know those stunning runs of bad luck you sometimes get that make you think your life could possibly be a movie, and no one's actually told you? It happened to me earlier this year when my boyfriend dumped me on the eve of the Festival of Arts, then my handbag was stolen, including my brand new phone and MP3 player, I got the flu and then my car broke down. All in the space of about two weeks. I swear I was waiting for someone to yell "CUT!" at any moment.

Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for you, dear reader) I had another bad run this weekend. But this time the events took the form of "ex boyfriend encounters", of three distinct types. So I have put together this PCG (see other practical chick's guides on attending a cricket match and being dumped) in order that my readers may benefit from my misery.

EX ENCOUNTER TYPE A: meeting the new girlfriend/shag

He's sleeping with WHO?

This is quite possibly the trickiest ex encounter you will ever have to face, because there is no ideal situation. If he's now seeing a six-foot tall, blonde, Polish Wonderbra model whose hobbies are massage and nudism, you'll probably be close to suicidal. On the other hand, if he's currently shagging a stumpy, overweight Amanda Vanstone impersonator with home-streaked hair and bad shoes, your initial feelings of relief and superiority will quickly be overcome with disgust, followed by the overpowering need to vomit into the nearest handbag (TIP: aim for hers - she probably bought it at K Mart anyway).
The only way to deal with this situation is to act as dignified and cool as possible, which is easy if the new object of your ex's affections looks like this:

But isn't quite as easy if she doesn't. Just remember - there's a reason she's there instead of you, and it's probably for the best.

(But if she's a skinny good-looking bitch you're allowed to accidentally trip her up as you walk past.)

EX ENCOUNTER TYPE B: we're friends, really we are

This is another tricky one. In this situation, both parties have agreed to try and be "friends" after the breakup, which anyone can tell you almost never works. This is because it's almost impossible to be friends with someone when you know what they look like naked. Seriously, imagine your best friend naked. Bet you want to cancel that lunch date now, don't you?

Problems that can arise in the "friends" scenario include:

1. Extremely awkward conversation in which both parties must lie about other people they've been sleeping with since the break up. Explanations for "what you did on the weekend" include "Went to a mate's house to watch DVDs", "Hung out with friends" and "Had a quiet one", all of which actually translate to "Had a mad shag-fest with that person you've always been jealous of".

2. Having to cope with watching your ex flirt with other women, or be flirted with by women who know he is now available. You will be required to act happy about this, and act like its just FINE, because he is your FRIEND and you should be glad that he's getting action and you're not, and isn't it just dandy that that blonde girl seems to be all over him, and who is that fucking chick anyway, and I KNEW that girl from accounts had her eye on him, I KNEW IT, and whatever, he can have her, she's got a fat arse anyway. See? Totally fine.

I'm totally fine with this.

3. Coping with inappropriate moments of affection, in which he'll tenderly stroke your cheek while asking you how your new boyfriend is, or rub your shoulders while explaining how happy he is that you can both still be friends.
Unfortunately there is no real way to win the friends game, apart from both of you scoring a fabulous new boyfriend/girlfriend at EXACTLY the same time, so no one gets jealous. In the meantime, however, it's probably best to tell him you're going home to watch DVDs with a mate, and leave it at that.

EX ENCOUNTER TYPE C: enter the bastard

In an ideal world, however, everyone would continue to be friends after a break up. You'd schedule regular catch-ups, maybe even date some of their friends, and the past would be laughed off over a beer at the local.

That ideal world would probably also have chocolate trees and vodka cocktail rivers and kitten vending machines, so I'd recommend not holding your breath for it to come along.

In the meantime, most of us have to deal with the fact that there is a bastard in our relationship past who we may occasionally have to tolerate at social functions. Regular readers of the BC will know that for me, it's this guy, who I had the misfortune to run into at a party last night.

Given that that email, which ended with the phrase "how's get fucked sound?", was the last contact we had with each other, it was a fairly uncomfortable situation. It also happened to be a party held by HIS friends, not mine, which meant I had a pretty low ranking hand of social cards against his Royal Flush.

So here's the rules for coming up trumps when you run into the bastard ex:

1. Surround yourself with a few fabulous people before he's had a chance to notice you've actually arrived on your own.

2. If they act awkward like they don't know who you are (because they probably don't) just laugh loudly and exclaim "You're CRAZY!" and have another drink.

3. Make sure everyone acts as though you're the most charming thing in the room (laughing at your jokes, complimenting your clothes, and yelling out "You're so GREAT!" every few minutes all help)

4. Completely ignore him.

5. If he comes up to talk to you, pretend you have momentarily forgotten who he is. Squint your eyes slightly, cock your head to one side and study his face, before going "Ohhh, it's YOU!". Then shake your head slightly and look a little bewildered as you ask " are you?", as if you can't understand why someone so insignifcant in your life would bother making small talk with you at a party. This would be an ideal time to try out phrases like "You look different - have you put on weight?" and "Have you finally finished your degree or did you defer another year?". This should be enough to send him crawling to the corner, so you can go back to your fabulous friends and be fabulous.


  1. it could have been worse. I really don't know how but that seems like the appropriate thing to say when things really couldn't get any worse. Do you feel better?

  2. I really like the sound of your ideal world, sign me up!

    I do think that in an ideal world, all ex boyfriends would be banished until you have hooked up with someone fabulous, and then only allowed to return looking fat and desperate. Alternatively, they could be sent away and re-trained so that if you decide you'll have him back, he won't be as useless as last time.

    I have gone through Type A, except I had met her previously, and knew they'd hook up sooner or later. Fortunately he is very ashamed and disgusted about what he did, which makes me feel better. I am currently in Type B scenario 2, and expect the bastard-ness to begin shortly as he realises he remains single and tries to blame me for the fact, or something to that effect.

    I hope this doesn't start another run of bad luck for you.

  3. OMFG! I'm emailing this to all my friends. Words to live by!
    You should really write some self help type book. Hahaha!

  4. Believe it or not, Steph, but I AM thinking about that...! I'll keep you all posted.

  5. the line about finishing the degree rules.

  6. My one this week was a fairly clean break up, so I guess at some point we'll try and be 'friends'.

    I don't want to be friends with him. I want him to want to be with me. Sigh.