An Encyclopedia of Exes

An Encyclopedia of Exes

There’s this guy who keeps asking me to marry him…

He’s a long ago ex-boyfriend, and he doesn’t really mean it. Over the years, this particular ex has asked me to marry him via texts, Instagram comments, even by sliding into my DMs. He is “The Proposer,” a most curious breed of ex — one who could never commit in life, but when granted the safety of distance, becomes digitally brave.

Here are some other exes known to skulk out in the wild. Do any sound familiar to you?

The Clinger
They hug you a little too long at parties. They send texts or even flowers for important life events. They want to get a drink or lunch whenever they’re in town. “So, what are you looking for?” you ask, because that is a sensible question. They’re not looking for anything. They just want to cling, like a sloth to its favorite branch.

The Lurker
I see you, name-withheld-for-privacy. I see how you watch all my Instagram stories, three seconds after they’re posted. We haven’t spoken in fifteen years, but whatever! I’m glad you’re so invested in my dinner. It’s honestly kind of flattering.

The Best Friend Forever… Seriously, Forever
You’re capable of being just friends with this ex, because you have no idea why you dated in the first place. You are so devoid of attraction, they’ve come to feel more like a cousin. But what you find with them is a different kind of love, and that’s okay with you.

The Perpetual Calendar Alert
This ex wishes you a happy birthday every single year. They never miss a birthday! Does it pop up on Facebook? Do they magically remember? An enduring mystery. Sometimes, when feeling fancy, they’ll use animated confetti or a festive emoji. This is the only time ALL YEAR you ever hear from them.

The Myth
In the time since you split, this ex has managed to land an amazing seeming spouse, a brood of adorable children, a yacht, a castle, an Academy Award, etc. “I saw on Facebook that so-and-so did something amazing!” friends update you. You do not care. Really! You do not.

The Sputnik
Is an ex still an ex if you never really defined your relationship in the first place? No matter, the Sputnik orbits around you like a lost satellite, saying hello when it’s convenient, commenting when it’s convenient, asking you to “hang,” and then disappearing into space. But they’re always there, a little light blinking in the darkness, and that is its own kind of consistency.

The Rebounder
This ex has a habit of contacting you whenever they’re in between relationships. They seem to think you’re a safe harbor in a sea full of scary dates. “Oh, look!” you’ll think, as a message pops up. “Chad must be recently single.” And you’d be right.

Your Partner’s Ex
The most annoying ex of all, because it isn’t yours. He/she might be attractive or successful or loony or annoying. The details matter not. They will always seem a little mysterious, a little terrifying, and a little too close for comfort. But at the end of the day, all exes are exes for a reason.

Do you keep in touch with your exes? Do you have any of these characters in your life? Let’s discuss…

P.S. The time I accidentally bought a wedding dress and a first date question: dinner vs. drinks.

(Photo from Insecure.)