It’s a bit like the bridesmaid dress, the really expensive designer outfit you splurged on but can’t fit into now and the special thing you wore on that one meaningful night. You are done with them, but you hesitate to get rid of them.
There are plenty of exes like that, but you aren’t allowed to keep them in the back of your closet or in a box under your bed. Where do YOU keep your exes?
For some reason:
There are Two Kinds of Women in the World: Ones that Keep their Exes and Ones who Ditch Them
There is the woman who, when a breakup occurs, boxes up every single thing in her place that the ex gave her or which is in any way at all connected to the ex. That box is more or less thrown at the ex’s front door immediately. The lady is done. That is that.
There is also the woman who will continue to keep the ex in her life. She will call and text and drop by and declare they are still friends. Maybe they are, or maybe she’s clinging to a lost relationship. It isn’t just us. Men do these things, too.
Do You Keep Your Ex on Social Media?
Social media can complicate things. Back in the day, if you broke up, that was pretty much it. Your friends knew better than to bring up Mr. Ex. He was in the past, and unless you lived next door or were thrown together via classes or work, you accepted that you would no longer have any idea what he was up to. It was generally accepted that that was best.
But now, unless you take action to block the ex, there he or she is, showing up on your social media feeds, sooner or later (perhaps very soon, which will explain a few things) posing with a new partner. You will continue to see that person forever. Potentially, you’ll both be 80 years old, and there that dude will be, posting pictures of his new orthopedic shoes on the Instagram of the future.
“Who is that old man, Great-Grandma?” your little great-grandchild will ask you someday.
“Oh, him? We dated for seven months in 2019.”
“Oh, in the olden days,” the child will say. “Tell me more. Did you have cars back then, or did he pick you up on a horse?”
“Hush, child,” you will say. You are trying to see what he’s up to. Dang it. He’s dating a woman who appears to have kept all her teeth and is smiling widely, just to taunt you: Slut.
Why I Collect Former Significant Others
I managed to collect quite a menagerie of exes way back when in the pre-social-media era. But quite a few of them have made their way into my social media anyway. In the frenzied early days of Facebook, lots of people were adding people from their past willy-nilly. Have I gone through and counted all the people in my friends list with whom I’ve locked lips or maybe other body parts? I have. I would reveal the number, but there isn’t room on the Internet.
In some cases, I wouldn’t have wanted to know what was going on in those guys’ lives when feelings were still tender and bruised. But a decade or two later, it’s a different story. It feels good to see that they’re living apparently happy lives. In most cases, there have been a couple of catching up messages, and then we just poke our heads in on birthdays to say hi.
One of my exes died a year ago. I hadn’t seen him since college, but I had been glad to see he had a lovely wife and family and a successful career. When he messaged me on Facebook about his illness, I was shocked and sadder than I would have expected. We hadn’t been very serious, but we had the same major so I saw him almost daily for years. When he died, it was front page news in my state. At least I knew it was coming, and could connect on social media to some mutual friends we’d both known back in the day.
That’s going to happen more often as the years pass, until someday it’s some guy reacting to the news of my death, and maybe remembering the best of our times together. Gee, that got morbid really fast. Let me pivot here.
I don’t accept friend requests from exes who were dicks and don’t think you should, either. But some exes are quite good people; they just weren’t the right person for you at the time you knew them. Maybe you’d have been successful if you’d met at a different time in life, or maybe not.
But they’re a part of your past, and I’m grateful to live in a time when you can keep at least a small connection with people who were, at one point, very important to you. It probably wouldn’t be a great idea to call or write letters to them regularly, but social media allows you to at least catch up on the big milestones, and you can offer congratulations or sympathy when it’s appropriate. I’m glad social media didn’t come around until all my exes were far in the past; it would definitely be a different experience today.
So, no, I don’t think you should go all Marie Kondo on your old clothes or your old exes. If you smile when you run across that special old dress that you know damned well you are never going to wear again, keep it and enjoy the memories. You might never see old (insert name of the one who got away here) ever again, but isn’t it nice to occasionally get a glimpse into his life? And to confirm that you are aging better than the one he married? You betcha.
Sophia Sinclair is Curvicality’s sex and relationships writer and the author of the Small-Town Secrets romance series, available on Amazon. Reach Sophia at firstname.lastname@example.org.