Essay: Exes & Issues

All boyfriends come with an ex– it’s, like, sort of a given. If you’re lucky they’ll arrive in your life with little more than hand luggage, but most of time they’ll probably rock up towing two suitcases full of stones that threaten to drown this new relationship before its maiden voyage has even left the harbour. I always seem to be the guy that has to pay the excess baggage fee. I can’t count how many guys have lapsed mid-date into some sort of dissociated meltdown about their ex. Is there anything worse than going to a bar with a cute guy, then four drinks in your date starts crying about their ex? Then later he tongues you against a lamppost, before he tells you he doesn’t want a relationship? No. There is not.

When you see your boyfriend, who is now your ex, talking to his new boyfriend, you must wonder how much luggage you’re carrying around with you. I do anyway. What is he saying about me? Is he revealing my darkest secrets? (unlikely because I plaster everything on the internet.) Maybe he’s telling him about how shit I was as a secret Santa? He is definitely telling him that I have the attention span the length of an eyelash. There is a catty side to gay guys that gets played on a lot in the media, but most of the time it’s true. It is with utmost certainty that those issues you nervously showed your ex are now little more than cannon fodder in a very casual conversation. I then find myself hating my ex’s new boyfriend – even though I am over my ex, even though I have never even spoken to his new boyfriend, I just point blank hate that bitch. Maybe it’s his body – he’s a size smaller than me and looks banging in all the outfits I want to look good in. Whatever his size, he has this ‘I love my body and I love how it looks’ vibe that I can only hope to mirror one day. Maybe it’s that his hair is better, or that his job is more prestigious. Maybe it’s that one day he’s destined to snag that shirt I really want, in my size, from right underneath my desiring paws. I mean, he clearly stole my ex, so shirt larceny isn’t a stretch! Whatever it is: I can and have found ways to convince myself that he is the enemy.

It’s after this tiny outburst that you realise you are, in fact, a psycho-ex. But it’s alright, because everyone is; some people are just better at hiding it. Chances are your ex’s new bae is actually a really nice guy and if you’d allow yourself to defrost you’d probably get along – under different circumstances anyway. Such an encounter happened to me the other night. I thought I was over it and then from across the street I saw him, standing chatting to another gay; and even though we barely glanced at each other for little more than a second, my heart swan-dived into the pits of my stomach then threatened to fall out my butt. I had a cold flush run over me, I felt sick. It totally threw for me. I continued on with friends, went into the venue and ordered a drink, then ventured to the bathroom. I was frustrated at how much this shook me. Get it together, man. In the words of famous West Coast rapper, Ice Cube, I need to check myself before I wreck myself. I wouldn’t go back to him if Christ himself took me there on mule back, but somehow seeing him felt like a swift boot to my testicular area. I realise now, a few days on, that seeing him with someone else wasn’t so much a catalyst for the onslaught of stingy sadness I felt after, but rather a side-effect of the sadness I was already towing around me. Without going into a mammoth amount of detail, I’m contending with some other fairly heavy issues right now, so seeing someone I loved (past tense) with someone new just injected a further-feeling of worthlessness. And I am chock-full of loathing when I say this, but when I feel down about events that are out-with my control, I tend to hook up with guys as a way of making me feel better. Having him off limits hurt.

Romance is the best way I know to forget my problems and obligations, to obliterate the self and pretend to be someone else. As such I’ve racked up a soap opera worth skanky experiences, all of which played out in the same way: Me taking my clothes off, flapping around a bit, whilst mustering every molecule of goodwill to put a smile on my face. I am not enjoying the sex, or the encounter; I just want the affection. I just want someone else to make me feel like I’m worth more than nothing; to wrap up and ship my issues and worries off for the night. Right now my self-worth is at an all-time low; I feel as needed as that white stuff that accumulates in the corner of your mouth when you’re dehydrated. I’ve found myself internally screaming ‘for the love of fuck, somebody touch me. I want to forget’ so many times and yeah, sure, it does work. Until the next morning when they leave and you’re left avoiding the wet patch like some prudery ninja. Desperately flapping at reality, telling it to shoo.

I quote that really resonates with me by Robert Anton Wilson: ‘I think I got off on the wrong planet. Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no rational life here.’ One of the main issues that I’ll drag into any new relationship is a constant sense of not-belonging. I often feel like I’ve gotten off at the wrong stop; that there’s this comic bus that travels through space and drops souls off at certain points. Another is that I am willing to try almost anything, but my simultaneous urge to reject everything creates a challenging paradox – this kind of puts a dampener on trying new things with a guy. There is a slightly more comical issue I’m sure guys I’ve dated relay to other guys about me. I was once (still am) a not-so-secret metalhead. Admittedly sometimes feeling sad does feel good. Most of my friends shun my downer-choice in music, but probably because they’re really well adjusted. For me, there is nothing more comforting than the powerhouse vocal of a scorned female. I have always tried to hide this depressing urge to blast out some goth metal, but eventually guy’s I’ve dated have had to endure it, with added commentary from me about the song’s meaning and other such nonsense they are utterly indifferent about – just play Into You, for god-sake! Trust me, if you give me control of the music, even for one song, I’ll straight up murder everyone’s buzz with the strumming of a drop-C power chord.

I’ve given up now on finding someone that is ‘totally me’ and completely drama free. Everyone has cracks and fractures, mentally and psychically, that they will bring with them into your life. I try to dive headfirst into any new encounters with guys without being too attached the results. I try to own my issues, accept the fact I’m psych-ex at times and I accept the fact that when I meet someone new he may too have a psycho-ex I’ll need to contend with. I mean sometimes sure, you’ll meet someone that is just too much drama. When this happens, I advise that you run past him like a track star with Red Bull wings. If you’re already involved with him and his ex appears at his door, in the middle of night, while you’re cradled into his arms discussing real world issues like ‘why was Ugly Better cancelled after season 4?’ then flee down the street in your PJ shorts on the nearest bicycle you can find. I don’t care if he makes you feel so content you don’t even want to check your phone is his company; fucking bolt. An ex is an ex for a reason and having one around when you’re trying to build something new is a tornado of drama. It’s a storm you don’t want, or deserve to, weather. Most importantly though if you see your ex and feel the slightest thing for him, don’t date anyone else. It’s not fair of them or you.

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