Relationships

An Encyclopedia of Exes (Which Are Yours?)

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.)

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  2. B says...

    here for the comments!!

  3. Well, i don’t really know about my ex. He was cheat on me and now married with his gf (after broke up with me)😅 But i do have a crush who keeps coming back and then go away. I named him a knight ex, because he always come and go and never trying to be the King 👍😅

  4. Casey says...

    So….I dunno about MY exes, but I am so nailed. The Perpetual Calendar Alert. It’s me. Going to erase all my annual birthdays of exes from my google calendar now.

    • Emily says...

      I’m the same! But I also have a weird internal calendar that won’t let me forget birthdays from friends and lovers for back before digital reminders. Not sure how to erase those!

  5. jane says...

    The Standard-Bearer: The first love, the one you lost your virginity to, the one who always showed up, the one you both promised you’d always come back to. Twenty years later, of course that’s not true (ah, young love!), but he set the standard for how you should be treated & feel in a relationship – and ultimately, in a (wonderful) marriage to someone else.

    The Standard-Breaker: The one you thought was up to the standard and wasn’t, and dragged you way down with him. The one who used you, broke your heart, maybe cheated, and then disappeared. The one who (eventually, tiringly) taught you what you couldn’t and wouldn’t accept. (And yet: why do I imagine running into him again someday just to tell him I’m happy now?!)

    • katie says...

      Nailed it! Yes and yes, to these two! They were missing from the list for me too.

    • Ashley Em says...

      YES AND YES JANE! Love this so much. And hate the Standard-Breaker and all his shit.

  6. celeste says...

    Nope, mine completely disappear.
    These sound awful!

  7. Steph says...

    Awww, mine is the Best Friend Forever. We dated for a few months our freshman year of college, realized we didn’t work well as a couple, and broke up. Then he became roommates with my high school ex-boyfriend who I eventually got back together with and married. My husband and my ex became such good friends that my ex was in our wedding and my husband was in his. They once went on a road trip together without me, and I frequently joke that they both dated me to get to each other. My life is weird. (However, my mom is good friends with my dad’s ex-wife, so maybe this kind of thing is hereditary??)

  8. Sam says...

    Some of the best advice my therapist gave me was to just stop talking to my ex. To tell him something like “Hey, you know, I’m going through a tough time right now, and I think it would be better if we didn’t talk any more.” (Or something like that. It worked because I *was* going through a tough time.)

    Luckily the guy was very respectful of that and never made contact again. (And we live in different places and so weren’t running into each other.) For YEARS I had been trying to get over this guy, but I think the constant possibility that he might call or text or email made getting him out of my mind an insurmountable task. Once I knew it wouldn’t happen, I could move on.

    Just throwing that out there in case someone needs to hear it.

    • Kate says...

      I needed to hear it. He came back after 5 years, very married, living on a different continent. Now he’s not sure what exactly he wants from me and of course I’m STILL not over him. But I’m an afterthought obviously, he chose her. I will not be dragged along but don’t know how to shove him out of my life without feeling his absence..have to pick the option that makes me the least sad 🤔

    • Ashley em says...

      Kate – cutting him out will hurt short-term, and likely in a way you can’t imagine ever getting over. The pain will be real and excruciating. BUT – long-term, it’s the best option by far. It allows you to move on, and the pain WILL go away once you work on yourself and help yourself through it. You will find you’re stronger than you know. And – I know this is unbelievable – you’ll come to see him for the POS he is. (Talking to a former flame who I guarantee he KNOWS still isn’t over him while married? Just to feel big? P. O. S.) Love, a former I-could-never-cut-him-out gal.

  9. Amanda says...

    What about the Voldemort ex? The ex that shall not be named, spoken of, thought about or remembered? That ex was destroyed by love. Love of myself.

    • Jacqueline says...

      Yes to all of this.

    • HH says...

      LOL. Brilliant.

    • SB says...

      Yesssss, funny because it’s true!

  10. Maddy (@xenaworrierprincess on IG) has summed up the lesbian ex experience perfectly in her zine title: The Ex-Girlfriend of my Ex-Girlfriend is my Girlfriend.

  11. Em says...

    Yikes- I think I’m kind of a lurker to one of my exes…. I don’t lurk because I miss him romantically, but I miss him so much as a friend. He’s was such a great friend and is such a wonderful person. I wish we could have maintained a friendship.

  12. NN says...

    ACK! Drag me…!

    ;)

  13. JR says...

    The Literal Dream
    When you dream that you are being swept off your feet by a sexy, intelligent, blonde bad boy that ravishes you… and then you wake up to your kind, handsome, dorky-but-in-a-cute-way fiance whom you love… but still feel a twinge of longing for that imaginary one that got away…
    (Yes – this happened to me this morning. Still sad it’s over.)

  14. Anon says...

    I had (have?) a “NATO Almost-Ex” — a No Action, Talk Only former best guy friend in my 20s who kept telling me to dump my then-bf Z because he and I were meant to be together instead; that I was way out of Z’s league and surely I could see that we were perfect for each other; and that if we were still single at 30 we should just marry each other. I just laughed him off for years because I was sure he was just joking and I was perfectly happy with Z, until one day I finally outgrew Z and started thinking maybe NATO guy had a point (his arguments were pretty persuasive, what can I say). So I dumped Z thinking that we would then get together. BIG mistake. The minute I did that, NATO guy started backing away and disappeared for ages at a stretch. Definitely a bitter lesson learnt — some guys just want what they can’t have, because when they actually can have what they coveted before, they suddenly decide they’re no longer interested.

    What stings more is that we actually were good friends, I’d even have said best friends of the opposite gender before that. We were such close confidantes that we literally told each other EVERYTHING, even gave each other advice about the people we were each seeing then, and together we were perceived as the cool smart kids in college, and I have to admit that was intoxicating to “high school wallflower nobody” me. BUT, instead of DTR-ing in a calm way/letting me know how he felt, he decided to organize a road trip for us and a bunch of mutual friends without telling me beforehand that he was already dating one of the girls in the group and had been for a while by then, instead resorting to dropping hints on the trip. I don’t know if he thought he was letting me down easy or what but it was needless to say utterly humiliating to find out that not only did he NOT mean everything he’d said before, but that I had now been unwittingly and unwillingly turned into some pitifully clueless creature who was the last to figure out what everyone else seemed to already know.

    Sad to say it took me a few more years (and more water under the bridge) to cut off all contact with him. The kicker? He DMed me recently asking what went wrong and that I used to be a very important person in his life, he doesn’t understand what went wrong with us, bla3. I was like whatever, I didn’t even want to go there anymore. What would be the point?

    Damn, just typing all this is dredging up all kinds of feels I thought I was done having. Gah!

  15. kiki says...

    I’m an elder millennial who got married young (22!!) So, i’m in this weird gap where I live a lot of my life online, but have almost ZERO ex’s in my social networks, because I would’ve had to have added them years after we broke up! I can honestly say I have NO idea what any of my ex’s are up to these days. LOL

  16. HH says...

    Your Twin’s Ex
    Your twin’s ex who mysteriously believes that despite the fact that he ran roughshod over her feelings years ago, you would have any interest in dating him. Go to Mars, scumbag!

    The Disappearing Man / Self-Fulfilling Prophesy
    The one who you were in constant contact with for a year, long distance, who occupied all of your romantic thoughts. Suddenly, with no warning, he begins to vanish slowly. He tells you how much he hates to lose each ex, to go from such close friendship to merely being “that person she used to know.” And yet, even as he says this to you, he effectively removes himself from your life, disappearing a bit at a time until you realize the last text you received from him was months ago. He is the Disappearing Man. And you are too proud to grab hold of his hand and say, “STOP! DON’T GO!” Because your ex before him was… (as Andrea defined him)…

    The Emotional Detacher
    The one who everyone (including your Pastor!) said after the emotional rollercoaster that coincided with this ex’s laborious years-long effort to shut you out as he slowly removed himself from your life, “He will never get married.” And now, discovering he has, in fact, just gotten married, you realize with horror that he was not opposed to getting married so much as opposed to getting married to YOU. But then, still, you feel sorry for his wife. And relieved that you are not she.

    Does anyone else have an aversion to online dating/dating apps? I keep setting up a profile and then avoiding it. I want to be in a REAL relationship. But not with a stranger I’ve just met. And not with my sister’s ex!

    • Amanda says...

      Everyone starts as a stranger you’ve just met! Embrace it!

    • Laura says...

      hahaha, agree with Amanda! Even if they aren’t a stranger to you right now, they were at one point. So worth giving the ‘right now stranger’ a chance!

    • HH says...

      Ha, thank you Amanda and Laura! Those are words of wisdom…

  17. Marisa says...

    Haha–is it weird that I see myself reflected in some of these categories? Like the Perpetual Calendar Alert? I make it a point to wish people happy birthday, even my exes, because just because we aren’t an item anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t wish them well. I have also been known to be the Lurker because I’m genuinely interested in how my exes lives have diverged–some so completely–from the one I’m leading now with my partner!

    Also, loving the comments!!

  18. Laura says...

    in defense of lurkers, I can’t not watch an Instagram story! Those little rainbow circles call to me just like the numbers on my text and email icons (if you are a person with 394 unread emails, HOW DO YOU LIVE?). I often don’t even watch them, I just tap through to make the rainbows go away!

    • Zooey says...

      SAME SAME SAME SAME

    • MA says...

      One of this past year’s greatest discoveries was how to “mute” someone on instagram/FB. We ended on good terms so I don’t necessarily need to unfollow my ex, but i also don’t need to see his story pop up and then try to resist watching it (a losing battle, every time). I still occasionally watch out of curiosity, but now his happy-or-at-least-fake-happy-life not shoved in my face :)

      Go to their IG profile -> click the button that says “following” -> select “mute” -> choose to mute posts/stories/both. Freedom!

  19. i’m FB friendly with a college ex… he’s married to someone who alarmingly looks like me and has two kids who are adorable. i sincerely wish him well.

    i fear i’m a lurker ex to someone who broke my heart on my birthday. we are FB friends blah blah blah, but i do go to his page sometimes to see what he is up to and i’ll click the LIKE button when it suits. i’m not sure why i bother.

    i’m happily married, and i know that there is 1-2 exes who lurk on my social medias, and i’m ok with that.

  20. Agnes says...

    OK just for ‘fun,’ I’ll list all 4 of my exes..

    1. The first love. No contact as he is married. Respect.
    2.The second – a fling. He is now dead, so no contact there.
    3.The 3rd – a wonderful man I kind of wish I stayed with. He is now married too, so no contact. Again, respect.
    4. The 4th.. I thought we were going to get married. He left without even a good-bye and broke my heart (first heartbreak and first time I have been dumped). No contact because I blocked him from everything and deleted everything and got rid of everything.

    I’m not dramatic AT ALL, just saying ;) Anyway, I hope I don’t have any more exes!! Next one is IT, whether he likes it or not, mwahah

    • Dillan says...

      I love this, it sounds just like a movie (in the best way possible!) Wishing your next and greatest love to be just around the corner :) xx

    • Agnes says...

      Awww thank you Dillan!! Me too :)

  21. Matthew says...

    WRONG Place, RIGHT guy GUY – the dude who you connected with romantically, intellectually and sexually … but whose life dreams and path just weren’t aligned to yours.

    While I don’t wish my ex, Chris, and I were a thing I do raise a glass to him. Two ship in the night that could never find daylight. That ghostship of what would likely have been a great LTR. But, again, there’s a reason we never found daylight.

    • M says...

      So so so true! Loved the part about finding daylight.

    • Betsy says...

      Both of my serious exes fall into this category. And love your last sentence!

  22. Lauren E. says...

    99% of my ex’es fall into The Lurker category. They ALL look at my Instastories even though I’ve been married for 3 years now. I have to admit, it’s pretty flattering. :)

  23. Erin G. says...

    The Co-Parent: your ex-spouse/ex-partner who you have to know (and speak to, and communicate effectively with, and negotiate with, and compromise with…) for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE because you share a child(ren) together. And despite them being The Clinger, The Lurker, or, God forbid, The Myth…you have to keep on knowing them. Sigh…

    • Siv says...

      That’s my scenario! It’s so challenging!

    • Irina says...

      The Spouse’s Ex/Co-Parent… ’nuff said :)

  24. Em says...

    Reading this, and the great comments, there should be Ex Shampoo–with quirky names and different scents/formulas/strengths for the different exes you want to wash out of your hair. Who wants to go in with me on this?!? :o)

    • Marybeth says...

      BRILLIANT! I will absolutely wash my hair with ex-shampoo.

    • HH says...

      Ditto, Marybeth! I’ll invest. Ha.

  25. bridget says...

    does anyone else have the Houdini ex? the ex that you dated and who was significant in your life, and yet has NO social media or internet presence? as years pass, this ex feels more and more like a figment of my imagination, and sometimes i search for him just to confirm that time in my life really happened. it’s mind boggling.

    • Le says...

      I have one of those! It’s a little maddening. In hindsight, his lack of presence coincided with his inability to let anyone (er, me) in on his thoughts.

    • SN says...

      YES. My first love and college boyfriend is this! I am VERY happily married to my amazing husband who is my soulmate. My Ex was not (we were not meant to be together forever) but he had a huge impact on my life, and I sometimes wish there would be *some* sign of life from him because I truly hope life is treating him well…

    • Ali says...

      Just read this and realised my husband is probably someones Houdini ex, haha! No facebook, no instagram, no social media at all!

    • belen says...

      hahahaha yesss i was thinking about this ex too!

    • SB says...

      YES OMG thank you for naming this! My most beloved not-really-a-relationship has zero online presence and it is so annoying the one time a year I allow myself a Google.

  26. Katie says...

    I am definitely a Facebook birthday wisher – every single day! I love birthdays, and I’m friendly with my Ex (we have lots of mutual friends) so why not? However, he can’t feel special because I do this with everyone.

  27. Siobhan says...

    Hahah! I have an ostrich too, although I think I forced him into it. Ostriching for self-protection. Luckily he seems to have moved along to other friend groups so we never bump into each other anymore.

  28. Trish says...

    I practice the “scorched earth” strategy with my exes…but I’m not so lucky with my partner’s ex-wife. She and his brother had an affair and remained together, so even though we don’t talk to them, she is ever-present in our lives, at least peripherally. Luckily, my partner didn’t have children with her, or that would have been even stranger.

    • Susan says...

      Wait, she had an affair with her husband’s brother and then stayed with the brother and now you see them at family events? That is so incredibly cruel of her and his brother. Wow.

  29. Maire says...

    I have an ex that I could refer to as The Sixth Sense. When a major life is happening to me or I was very happy with someone else, he randomly texts or emails, wondering how I’m doing, etc. For instance, as I was pulling out of my single apartment’s driveway with a UHaul full of my shit because I’d just bought a house with my now husband…he called to tell me he was on his way through town and was thinking of me. (I hadn’t heard a peep from him in a least a year before this.)

    • CB says...

      This kind of thing happens to me ALL the time, like they have radar or something. If I’m on my way to a first date with a cute guy, I’ll get a text from this guy I haven’t talked to in months. If I sleep with someone new, my ex from a few years ago will text the next morning ‘just thinking about me’. 😬

    • Kelli says...

      This is EXACTLY the ex I have too! It took forever to process the end of that relationship (which, thankfully I saw the light and realized he was a terrible weight dragging me down.). But STILL – no matter what somehow he always, always reaches out right when I’m floating the highest in my own world. Sometimes it seriously makes me wonder if he bugged my phone when we were together. The last time I heard from it was literally the day after I was telling my friend how happy I was that he and I weren’t together anymore! But seriously how do they KNOW??!

  30. Siobhan says...

    The one with Commitment Issues – We dated for a year, the L-word was never said (although I definitely felt it), he told me he just wasn’t “in love” with me so we broke up. Fast forward 2 years, we’re colleagues, best friends, occasional friends with benefits and see each other almost every day. Who even knows what’s going on. He’s definitely still in the ex-zone though.

  31. Genevieve Martin says...

    Nah, I’m not in touch with any of them, honestly never saw the point. Sure if any of them had stayed in the same friendship groups as me and I had occasion to actually interact with them I’d be open to it, but that’s not the case for me and I don’t see any benefit at all in keeping up an individual friendship with them! One carried on liking all my instagram posts for a while, and I thought it was odd because the last time we’d spoken he said some really rude things to me. So, I blocked him! Why be reminded?
    Even my almost-fiance, after we broke up unexpectedly and suddenly after 5 years, we spoke a handful of times over the next month and then never spoke again because I realised I had no desire to and it wasn’t going to bring any good.

  32. Mary Pat McCarthy says...

    On my 60th birthday, a college boyfriend sent me the nicest letter ever. We had only been in contact a handful of times in 30 years so it was totally unexpected. I was a bad girlfriend back then: I cheated on him (with the guy I’m still married to), I strung him along when I should have ended it. He finally just moved away and that’s how we broke up. But this letter! He reminded me of fun we’d had, told me how proud he’d been to be seen with me, just every sweet thing you’d want to hear on a hard birthday to know that you had been loved and were not forgotten.

    • M says...

      Aw!!! That’s so sweet.

  33. Danielle says...

    I have quite a few exes who are a Sputnik/Lurker mix, but in the best way. For me personally, (and everyone is different) there’s a warm comfort in knowing that a person you had a deep connection with at one point in time, is still invested in seeing you succeed and checks in every once in awhile. I have at least 5 of these guys who I went out with for maybe, 3-5 dates, or 5-6 months, and had either great conversation, or amazing sex, or we just laughed a lot. And for one reason or another, it didn’t work out. They will look at my Instagram stories, or send me a text every once in awhile (not a U up? But a genuine – how are things?) and then they disappear, back into the box on the shelf while I go back to my boyfriend and real life. I allow myself to be sad for a bit after these “break-ups,” but then it’s kind of a crazy moment where you realize: it was NOT supposed to work out. These people were just meant to be little flickers in my life and then die out, and that’s OKAY. But for me, the small check ins or seeing them succeed on Instagram or have their first kid is a welcome, warm feeling. I LIKE having them there, it’s a constant that feels right — but I recognize it’s not for everyone, and every break-up is different!

    • Lisa says...

      I’m with you. I have one long term ex who remains a good friend. We were great when we were together and it simply wasn’t the right time for a lot of reasons. But only happy memories. Whenever we talk or hang out, it’s great and we genuinely get along but are both happy in our current relationships, which are not with each other. Keeping in touch with an ex doesn’t have to be weird or bad. In fact, I’d argue that it makes sense if it was any degree of friedship that was the basis of the relationship in the first place.

  34. Stacie says...

    The “Ex Who Isn’t Really an Ex, but They’ve Taken So Long to Get Over, They Might As Well Be.”

    A very long-standing crush, a friend you’re secretly in love with, maybe even a stranger you’ve watched for years. Letting them go takes work and time and because it was never fleshed out, you’ll always wonder… My person in this category has more of my heart than any ex I actually was in a relationship with!

    • Anna says...

      YEP.

    • Kate says...

      🙋‍♀️

    • SD says...

      This!!

    • Meg says...

      Same!!

    • Julie says...

      Siiiigh. This, right now, with a colleague. So happy to not feel alone in how intense a technically “not a real thing” can be!

    • Kelly says...

      okay, so it’s not just me :)

    • E says...

      Yep. I have one of these. It was a real break-up, even though it wasn’t a real relationship. But I feel better knowing it happens to other people too!

    • Anna says...

      Oh my god. This is mine. He’s getting married in a month and invited me to the wedding. I’ve been mentally composing the rejection RSVP for so long. I want to go for breezy and well-wishing (though in reality my soul is crushed that he thinks I could stand there and watch him marry another woman). I’m married myself with kids btw!

  35. I am laughing out loud…oh my gosh, the Sputnik! You are too funny. My friends and I have a theory that some guys (usually the cutest, most fun, most commitment-phobic guys) have a radar that goes off as soon as you start dating someone else. Even if you haven’t defined the relationship publicly with your new boo, these guys seem to come knocking every time you’ve found someone else & are magically interested in you again. What would that be called? The Radar O’Reilly? :)

  36. Anna says...

    How about The Ex That You’re Not Sure If You Can Really Call An Ex Because It Was Never “Official” Yet He Is the One That Got Underneath Your Skin And Soul And Will Always Be The Protagonist Of Your Fantasies. Too long a name, so let’s just call him The Fantasy Protagonist Ex.

    • Anna says...

      Completely agree fellow Anna. See Stacie’s comment just above yours. My Fantasy Protagonist Ex now wants me at his wedding!

    • SB says...

      Deceased at the accuracy of this one lolsob (mostly lol)

  37. I do not keep in touch with any exes. If I wanted to have dinner with people I disappoint, I’d go hang out with my parents.

    JK, Mom!

    • Mel says...

      This made me laugh out loud. Thank you.

    • Robin says...

      I spit my tea out, laughing so hard at this. Agreed!

    • Ali says...

      Hahahaha yes!!

  38. Sara says...

    All of this is wonderful. I love sorting things into boxes – real and imaginary.

    I have an Emotional Detacher who played me a horrible song after our break-up that he said reminded him of me, disappeared into the world, and then died a few years later. I found out about his death on the internet and it was so crushing because of the detachment and the lack of closure and the extreme sadness that he died so young. GAHHHH. Exes.

  39. Holly says...

    “The One You Wanted To Fix”
    – I dated a guy in my early twenties, he was about 8 years older than me in his 30’s. He had horrible dad issues, drank too much and was extremely negative with his outlook on life which began to take a toll on me. Yet I felt the need to comfort and protect him in anyway I could until I imagined my life down the road with him, brokenhearted probably with his children in a messy divorce. I guess you could also call this one “The Bullet Dodged”. From time to time I think about him hoping he finds happiness. I’m in a lovely relationship with a man who cherishes me every day and we all deserve that <3

    • L says...

      Girl, you are so right about this. My problem was that I married the guy! Horrible family issues, angry, extremely negative, but made me laugh and I thought I could help him. And yep, now I’m brokenhearted with his children going through a divorce. Good for you for dodging that bullet!

    • Hi Holly,

      I got out of a 10 year relationship at the beginning of the year, with someone who had a lot familial baggage/commitment issues, and in hindsight didn’t appreciate me. I spent too many years trying, and even though I still care for him, I too feel like I dodged a bullet. Looking forward to finding something like you have :) Thanks for sharing.

    • M says...

      I had a similar relationship prior to meeting my wonderful husband (same relationship, different issues). I shudder to think of how dark and difficult my life would have been with him, too, and often think “I dodged a bullet, there!”. I’m SO glad I asked a friend’s mom how she knew when she’d found the man she should marry. She said she had no doubts and was just excited. I had heart palpitations (the bad kind) anytime my ex talked about our future, so I knew it wasn’t right. I struggled with that breakup a long time as I’d invested a lot of effort into liking him (I loved him, but didn’t like him very much). When I met my husband, I had zero doubts. He’s been the very best decision I’ve ever made. Trust your gut, ladies!

  40. ages ago when an ex kept on trying to get in touch with me, a good friend nicknamed him HERPES: always comes back, always unpleasant.

  41. Anna says...

    I never seriously dated anyone before I dated and married my husband but he had a couple girlfriends before me. How much is ok to ask about them? Nothing, everything or in between? He doesn’t bring them up much but whenever I have asked about his dating past I end up feeling pretty bad and comparing. Is it better to know everything and not wonder or avoid knowing anything?

    • Yulia says...

      This sounds like it is a sensitive topic for you. If I were asking, I might phrase it like so: “This is a topic I sometimes feel weird bringing up because we haven’t discussed it much before. But from time to time I feel curious about your past girlfriends. That’s a part of your history that is mysterious to me because it is largely blank. Are you comfortable talking about them?”

      He might ask what (and why) you want to know. You should be prepared to answer these questions. You should also be prepared to back off and respect his feelings if he is not comfortable digging deep. Think about how you want the conversation to go, and then consider some other ways you could envision it going. What do you do in those different scenarios? And before bringing it up please also examine what you want to get out of it. What’s your goal? It might just be that you want to gratify your curiosity. Or perhaps you’re also looking for reassurance that you are loved. Consider also: is this a topic that is going to bring you pain? And if so, how do you handle that in a way that is healthy for you and for your marriage?

      This may be one of those conversations that can seem intense if you’re just sitting on the couch facing each other. In a quiet room words can get heavy quickly. Why not make it a conversation that takes place on a walk? So much less pressure that way, and it’s easy to pause, grab the other person’s hand, and say “this isn’t an easy conversation for me. Can we just walk for a while as I clear my head?”

      (For me: my partner and I know about one another’s past relationships, and they come up now and then in conversations, but for the most part we don’t talk about them because it doesn’t feel productive. When I ask myself what I would get out of a conversation about my partner’s exes the answer is nothing. The fact is that he loved other people before he loved me. I don’t need him to erase former girlfriends from history, but I also don’t need to hear all the little details. I know everyone is different, though.)

    • Meredith says...

      I like to think that where we’re all headed is more important than where we’ve been. Your husband picked you. And continues to pick you daily. In saying yes to you, he said no to all of the girlfriends in his past. I think its healthiest to focus on that and all of the security and reassurance it brings! That way, you can better channel your energy towards focusing on the life and future the two of you want to build together! Its also okay to ask him not to bring them up if it makes you compare yourself and feel bad.

    • Gina says...

      Oh, girl. I’m a strong believer that you should be able to ask your partner anything and get an honest answer. (And visa versa.) I mean, if we can’t be honest with the person who’s our life teammate—the one person who commits to love us despite our past and flaws—then who can we be honest with?

      “Is it better to know everything” is a matter of personal preference, but I say go for it. Before I got married, my hubby was in a Psychology of Human Sexuality course and he got an assignment to write out his “sexual autobiography.” So I wrote one too and we traded them. Some parts definitely weren’t fun to read (and aren’t fun to remember), but I’m so grateful that we know each other in and out. And if I ever feel insecure, I remember that he had options but WANTED to choose ME.

  42. Kat says...

    what is the character flaw?!?

  43. Laura says...

    I often think about the lovely, kind ex who i treated shittily a decade ago because i was a clueless 23 year old, and it makes me physically cringe to remember how much of an idiot i was back then. After so much time has passed, is it ever appropriate to make contact and say “I’m sorry i broke your heart”?

    • Veronica D says...

      I can really relate to this! I wouldn’t contact any exes I treated badly because I still feel to haunted about them, but I have a 24-year-old colleague who tells me about her dating life all the time and when she treats someone badly, I always force her to sort it out. I always tell her, ‘You don’t see it now, but your behaviour WILL haunt you in 20 years time. Just do the right thing now.” Makes me feel a bit better!

    • Liz says...

      Yes! I think it’s never too late for a heartfelt apology. You never know if he’s still hurt by it or thinking about it.

    • Tricia says...

      I would say yes, but definitely framed more as “I’m sorry I acted shittily.” You probably did break this person’s heart, but if you put it that way, it sets up the other person to feel like a victim or the weaker person somehow. I say this having been the other person (the one treated shittily and whose heart was absolutely crushed, despite wanting to be grown up and move on much faster than I was actually able to — does that make sense?). The ex in question reached out and apologized and it helped a little just to know he was aware that he acted shittily. However, it also hurt just to be reminded of that whole time of my life by having this person re-emerge from the ether, and honestly, I don’t feel as though it brought me any sense of closure (maybe it did for him, though).

  44. B says...

    I noticed there wasn’t “The Ex that Got Away” category! I have a limited number of exes in my past (two possibly three to be exact) Married happily for 18 years BUT two of those three. I would’ve married in a heartbeat had I met them when I met my husband. Both are exception men…The first I was way too young and travel bound to stay and try … the second, same thing LOL headed to Europe with no thoughts on returning. But I suppose everything happens for a reason. If I ran into either I would hug them and chat and tell them how amazing they are!

    • Sue says...

      YES! I have been married happily for 37 years, but still have a place in my heart for the man I loved wholeheartedly in college.

    • EB says...

      Yes! My ‘ex who got away’ was my first serious boyfriend in college. tall and handsome and good to me and sweet (and going to become a dentist, my mom was so happy about that, ha). But I was fresh out of college and had so much to do, so many people to date… It’s funny, many of his qualities I can also see in my husband today (okay maybe not the height…). My 23-year old self was not ready to settle down (much to my mom’s dismay, ha).

    • kra says...

      this reminds me of the time i asked my mother about how she knew my dad was “the one” and her answer was so honest–he was great but it was also the right time. he wasn’t going to be “the one” if they’d met 5 years earlier.

  45. Nicole Costello says...

    I’m THE GHOST ex. No really! They never ever hear from me again.

    • Lizeth says...

      Here here! Bye bye now :)

    • Brooke says...

      Same here! Seems my exes don’t mind because they are also ghosts! #didthatevenhappen?

  46. Elizabeth says...

    To those asking: yes, you CAN see who has viewed your Instagram stories! But you can’t see who has viewed the videos in your regular feed, so watch and re-watch away! ;)

    • Tilly says...

      No, really???!!! AaaaAAAaaaah!!

  47. SFord says...

    How about the ‘He has a type’ Ex? My ex lived near my mum at one point. She gleefully told me how much his wife looked like me. My sister even said hello to her thinking she was me. Not sure whether to be weirded out or flattered….

  48. Nat says...

    A sad breakup with lots of ugly emails for weeks that followed. I was alone in the foreign country, trying to find my way, he was at home, living with his parents and refusing to move and live with me, although I offered everything I had. He didn’t offer anything, but wanted me to give up on my dreams and come back. We were 5 years together.
    He blamed me for the break up, saying I don’t love him enough and betrayed him.
    Meet The Selfish Coward. But when I think about it, could be The Dodged Bullet too.
    Didn’t see him in almost 10 years, absolutely fine with that. Married, 2 kids, house. Life turned out wonderful without him.

  49. Mona says...

    I have recently found myself living the awkwardness of my mean and selfish ex who used me and dumped me brutally working three doors from my husband in the same office. It’s so stressful – I also work at the same gov agency…

  50. Nina says...

    Oh shit I am a clinger…

  51. Mine is the perpetual calendar alert. I have heard he has a wife and 2 beautiful children. But every year, like clockwork, he wishes me a happy birthday. (Which is today!) It’s this thing we have with each other, because 2 days later it’s his birthday. The rest of the year we don’t speak, we don’t text, I even have no clue what the heck he is doing in his life. We’ll see if this year it is the same, or he suddenly has moved to ‘just the ex’.

    • Happy belated birthday, Nancy! :)

      Did he wish you happy birthday?

  52. lomagirl says...

    I would happily meet my real exes- the ones I was in a relationship with- and have dinner. I don’t think my boyfriend-now-husband of 19 years would appreciate that entirely- but he keeps in touch with his college girlfriend.
    I don’t want to be with my exes – but they are still in my heart and I want to hear that they are doing well.

  53. Emily S says...

    Oh man, so spot on. I literally have every single one of these 🙈😂

  54. B says...

    The one that you know is lacking in some of the core values that you need in a partner, but you stay with for too long, simply because you are afraid of being alone.

  55. Mara says...

    Let’s call mine, “The One Massive Character Flaw Guy.” Together for many years, best friends, had tons of fun together, amazing sex nearly every night, headed toward marriage, storybook blah blah blah… but that one massive character-flaw-that-should-go-unnamed derailed everything. The relationship had to finally end, and I’m happily with my husband now for 15 years. In many ways I feel I dodged a bullet. But don’t believe for a second that I don’t look my ex up now and then on LinkedIn, Google him, have sex dreams about him. Sigh. I think this first love of mine is somewhere lodged in me for good….

    • Jóhanna Kristín Jóhannesdóttir says...

      Wow, same. Excactly the same.

  56. The Clinger, The Lurker, The Best Friend Forever, The Perpetual Calendar Alert and The Myth … except all of them have been ME. Yikes! Thanks for the dose of reality (insert awkward face emoji).

  57. Gretchen says...

    The Dodged Bullet: the ex who you almost linked your life to, but then didn’t, and now you are sooooooo grateful.

    • Owl says...

      This!

    • Nicole Costello says...

      THIS!!! oh man.

    • Amy says...

      Yes!!

    • Nikki says...

      HAHAH YES!

    • Abbe says...

      Yes! I have this one for sure.

    • Megan says...

      SPOT ON. literally so thankful.

    • Sandra says...

      YESSS! I definitely have one of these. I feel bad because he has had a really tough life that involved addiction issues that started after we broke up. But having me in his life most likely wouldn’t have stopped that or helped him and it definitely would have hurt me.

  58. Eve says...

    Wait, people can tell if we watch their Instagram stories?!

    My exes are none of these. They are dead to me, as I am to them. Did we ever really date? Only my HPV truly knows.

    • Emily R says...

      Yes yes yes!!! I’m not in touch with any exes. No thank you.

    • Emily S says...

      😂😂😂

    • Emmie G says...

      God, so spot on.

    • Sarah says...

      Hahah!

    • Tara says...

      YES. I read this and was like huh?! I have zero of these exes. They are all dead to me and I to them. 😂

    • liz says...

      Yes – if you post a story, it lists everyone who has watched it. This is very important to know lol

    • Owl says...

      I agree! If the relationship ended, it ended for a reason. Wish him well (or her, if that’s your preference), and move on. Build your life unburdened by deadweight from the past!

  59. Tara says...

    This is TOO real it hurts. 2 lurkers just watched my Instagram story 5 minutes ago. They must really miss my dog. I need to check my horoscope because EVERY ex of the last ten years in the last 2 months has texted, dm, email, fb, or found some 2019 way to get in touch with me. A guy I dated for a few months last year who informed me that he was TOO busy for a relationship texted me last week to see whether the pictures he framed in his living room are too close together? Is he serious? Hello, you didn’t want me then you don’t get my time now. I texted him google.com

  60. Bree says...

    What about the broken ones you wish you could have helped… for me it was an alcoholic with a heart of gold, but I was young and could see him not moving forward with life…

    Also, the “He better not do better because man he gave me a hard time” ex… he played games and made everything difficult, until I finally quit him for good.

    I, luckily am the myth. Married to a firefighter, one lovely child and one on the way in a lovely home 😊 I feel like I earned it…

  61. Gina says...

    How about the ex who says, “Everyone says this, but let’s seriously keep in touch,” and then never contacts you again.

    • Jess says...

      Ha ha! Too good.

  62. KRez says...

    Oh no!!!!
    I’m the Perpetual Calendar Alert for one of my exes, yikes!!

  63. Sandra says...

    Wait, you can tell when people watch Insta stories? Oooooops. #Imalurker
    I have one ex who doesn’t really fit into these categories…he is The Road Not Traveled. I lost my virginity to him, we dated on and off in college then on again and were together almost a decade. We are both happily married to other people, and I really don’t think we would have ultimately been a good match, but I sometimes still get wistful when I think of him even now more than 20 years later.

    • Heather says...

      I can’t believe this category wasn’t on here – the Road Not Traveled/What If Ex! Caroline must not have one – she is soooo lucky. Mine haunts my dreams and my fantasies nearly 20 years later. We text or email a few times a year but haven’t seen each other in 13 years. It’s still too much for either of us – we can barely talk. First love, first sex, first everything, lasted five years and only broke up because of distance. Sigh.

    • SR says...

      I have a similar person who will always be a bittersweet part of my life. For the rest of my life..

  64. riye says...

    I don’t talk to any of my exes. My bf on the other hand is friends with all of his exes. But he’s much nicer than I am!

  65. A says...

    Before the jump, I totally thought the guy that kept asking Caroline to marry him was her current boyfriend! I can’t think why, considering I read the title of the article, but for a moment I got really excited.

    As always, love your posts, Caroline!

  66. Sarah says...

    I’m 25 and only have one ex, but we dated for 6 years. We were both each other’s first love, however I decided to split up with him in mid-2017 since it no longer felt right. It was a very tough decision for me because of the way he still felt about me and even though he was heartbroken, he was mature enough to want to stay good friends with me. I gave him some space the first few months after the break up and then we started texting/talking again and the relationship felt like one of close friends. We would listen to and give each other advice on everything, including dating! Since we were together for so long, I feel like I can tell him absolutely anything since he knows the way I think and process information- he remains the only person who I am not embarrassed to tell my secrets to. He is happily dating someone now, but we stay in touch regularly and have these conversations :D

  67. liz says...

    Also, I’ve had waaaaaay too many sputniks in my life for comfort. Ambiguous relationships drive me mad.

  68. Liz says...

    I was about to describe my ex and give him a title but I got too angry in the process so I’ll save that for later! haha

    • Emily says...

      That is the one that’s missing! The Grudge! The one who you (hopefully) severed all contact with, try not to think about, and (let’s be honest) wish nothing but the worst for. They hurt you and it still bugs you that it bugs you. But what bugs you more is that you ever fell for them in the first place.

    • Erika says...

      Yes! I was thinking “Mortal Enemy” or somewhere along those lines…

    • Tara says...

      YES, The Grudge! I was trying to think of a way to describe that one ex I have who I still have random dreams about SIXTEEN YEARS LATER. He broke my heart, left me for *HIS* ex, and I never spoke to him again. When I think back, I realize wholeheartedly that we were never right for each other, but that breakup still stings, even as I sit, living my best life, married with two kids and not a complaint in the world. I still hate that guy. “They hurt you and it still bugs you that it bugs you.” RIGHT ON.

    • sara says...

      Oh man, The Grudge!! The guy I lost my virginity to and dated for a year is one of these. I won’t even utter his name, that’s how much I despise him. Mostly I’m angry at myself for falling for him, and then staying with him after he treated me like dirt. I was young though, and that experience definitely taught me what sort of guys to avoid after that!

    • L says...

      Ok here it goes. I would call mine the bullshit artist – the one who you can no longer take seriously because WTF. Breaks up with you out of the blue and without any warning after years of being together because he “no longer believes in monogamy”, immediately starts dating a woman who is married, and within a year marries this woman (she got a divorce sometime in between). UGH. Also: BARF.

  69. Courtney says...

    The Dreamer. The ex who you rarely think about, aren’t hung up on, haven’t spoken to in years…but who appears every now and then in your dream, possibly even kissing you.

    • Amanda says...

      THIS IS DEFINITELY A THING

    • MEL says...

      Yes. DEFINITELY a thing.

    • Meghan says...

      YES

    • laven says...

      LOL yes, this one IS legit a thing.

    • Lynn says...

      Ugh! Leave me alone, Dreamer! GET OUT!!!

    • Cal says...

      So a thing. Despite being very happily married, my mostly unrequited high school crush turns up in my dreams almost every single month (strangely coinciding with ovulation). We always kiss, which is so satisfying because we never got to in real life! Doesn’t hurt that he looks like Bradley Cooper.

  70. My god, the Rebounders. “______ would like to be friends on Facebook.” Well, looks like ______ broke up with his girlfriend, because I’m 100% sure he defriended me when they started dating.

    I have a Myth of an ex myself. Sometimes I wonder if we ever actually existed, because it feels like there’s so little evidence of myself in his gorgeous life now. No presence of him in my (arguably) more gorgeous life, either. (Let me have this harmless win.) We’re both gone from each other, though the memories remain: the food, the books, the songs (THE SONGS), the trips, the mutual friends who don’t dare mention one to the other. Connected, still… but how can you really be connected if you’re not sure you even really existed?

  71. Robin says...

    The Banger – the ex who you had amazing sex with, who you would still like to bang if you could put a paper bag over his head and pretend it didn’t happen after.

    The Soul Crusher – the ex who broke your heart so badly that thinking about him ten years later still makes your self esteem plunge, no matter how over him you think you are.

    The Double – that guy that comes up in a casual conversation with your best friend, and you awkwardly realize at the same time that you both nailed him, and then you share a silent moment of regret.

    • A says...

      Banger and Soul Crusher = same guy for me.

    • S says...

      Haha me too A!

    • Jessica Cash says...

      Yes to The Soul Crusher!

  72. Meredith says...

    I like to think I’m his “The Myth” Ex *hair flip emoji*

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha YES!

    • Meg says...

      Yeah, basically my lifetime goal is to be everyone’s “The Myth” :D

  73. Maclean Nash says...

    Of COURSE The Rebounders name would be Chad.
    Chad.

    Awesome as always, Caroline.

  74. Tabitha H says...

    I have a combination Sputnik-Lurker from high school. We never dated, and he has a wife and baby now, but he watches alllll of my instagram stories. I just take it as a compliment because I am pretty funny. ;)

    Also, can we talk about the weird nebulous ~thing~ where you both like each other, but neither of you makes a move and then it kind of fizzles out or one of you moves or starts dating someone else? This happened to me SO MANY TIMES, but I never know how to talk about it. They’re not really exes, because we didn’t date, but they were still important relationships.

    Especially when you do find someone who knows what they want, and it’s you. <3 It's so REFRESHING, and I had never known it was supposed to be so simple! It reminds me of that advice I think your sister gave, Joanna? If they like you, you'll know. I think about that a lot.

    • M says...

      Ugh, this totally resonates with me. I’ve got a Sputnik/What Could Have Been – we were basically best friends with no boundaries, and I was sure I wasn’t “falling in love”, and then we drifted apart after high school and I realized I did love him, but since we never dated, we never broke up, and I never got closure. (he also watches all of my instagram stories….) I still think about him and realized recently that he’s engaged and it felt like a sucker punch, even though we haven’t talked in years. *sigh*

    • Tabitha H says...

      M, I’m so sorry, that SUCKS!! I 100% get how much the lack of closure hurts. I had a What Could Have Been guy in college who abruptly stopped talking to me with no explanation, along with his entire hall. (In retrospect they were suuuper dramatic and immature.) I’m happily married now, but it still stings.

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with those “oh shit he’s getting married” feelings, they’re a TRIP! I’m sending you good vibes!!

    • Abbe says...

      Yes I had SO MANY of these! I’m very happy in my current relationship but there were so many dudes in my younger days I had flirty friendship-y things with that I often wonder about. I don’t think any of them would have worked long term, but it’s hard not to wonder.

  75. alle says...

    This post makes me feel like I’ve never had a real lover – and I’ve had several. Not one of my ex’s is in touch. I feel like I haven’t actually been loved. . .

    • Alle, more power to all involved!

      I actually think a huge indicator of relationship/mental health is that you/they are not texting the Ghosts of Bedsheets Past.

    • Emily says...

      I agree with Rachel – hanging onto exes is almost always some kind of game or power play. I have a zillion but now I’m married and thankfully the exes are all looooong gone.

    • CEW says...

      I don’t know that it’s particularly healthy to stay in contact with exes.. Yay, if you can! But that’s too much for me personally.

    • laven says...

      agreed! exes are exes for a reason and…. why bother? not for me either and i actually think it’s healthier for all involved. clean slate, no baggage to haul around.

    • Amanda says...

      Agree that keeping in touch isn’t always a great idea! I’ve broken ties with all of my exes. A lot of the time they weren’t even bad people, but at the end of the day, they don’t really have a place in my current life. It’s ok to hang onto lessons from past relationships, and acknowledge how they may have helped you grow or evolve, but not every life experience needs a souvenir!

  76. Meg says...

    I’m really not trying to neg – I mean it in the lighthearted tone of this article – but I read this article as fantastically humblebraggy. Maybe it’s informed by own traumatic experiences: there’s that one that is mean to me. That one that embarrassed me publicly. That one that pointedly ignores me at intimate mutual friend events. Suffice it to say, Caroline must be very enigmatic, which I very much buy.

    • Heather says...

      Meg,
      You expressed your emotions over this post very articulately & conscientiously! Well done, you!

      May the traumatic road you’ve walked lead you to run smack dab into that kindhearted, compassionate, silly, heartfelt winner here soon; and give you that sweet meet-cute story, to boot! You’re due, dear one :* To the flip side, it speaks volumes about you that you didn’t elude to feeling like that previous treatment was “acceptable”. Stand your thoughtful ground!

      Also, I concur, I would be spellbound in Caroline’s presence as well.

    • Meg says...

      Heather,

      I am so very touched by your generous words. I was feeling anxious/guilty/embarrassed for being the person that’s being a bummer — or worse, unkind — at the party…why did I even feel compelled to comment?!?!

      And then you! I’m humbled. Thank you so much for your kindness, sincerity, and (this sounds weird, but it’s what it is!) consideration. Thank you for taking the time to see me. What a gift.

      xo Meg

    • Sara says...

      Best comment section on the web. Hands down. Virtual hugs to you both.

    • Caitlin says...

      I totally agree Meg, and way to be a beacon for how you can offer a dissenting viewpoint in a kind and lighthearted way.

  77. Jenny says...

    Caroline, you come up with the best posts. That’s all!

  78. Capucine says...

    The ‘You Got Away’ ex who dates other women weirdly like you for years after and never really blooms again because he thinks you were The One and left him.

    The Perfect First Wife ex…so blonde, so tan, so former-model-aerobics-instructor, so physically perfect she’s STILL the the ex no woman wants to see twenty years after I adopted her ex from the shelter.

    The ‘Shared an Ex’ friend who dated the same guy at the same time…and came to the same conclusion and have now been good friends for decades, while he is long forgotten.

    • Amanda says...

      You nailed it. Especially unfortunate, the Perfect First Wife. Lord, let me not reach the end of the internet to find a fault in her.

    • Marina says...

      The ‘You Got Away’! Just happened to me! i heard through my friends, and we nervous laugh for hours. Why ex…. why

    • AMR says...

      “[A]dopted her ex from the shelter.” What a phrase!

    • lauren says...

      The Perfect First Wife ex!

      I had the not so fun surprise of accidentally (truly!!) finding the perfect first wife’s instagram profile early on in our relationship. Blonde, tan, legitimately a former model. I know that there’s no chance that they’ll get back together after she walked out of their marriage but dear god I wouldn’t mind if she was just a few inches shorter…

  79. CS says...

    Caroline you are hilarious and I love all your articles! What about the ex who didn’t appreciate you when you were in the relationship, but now that you broke up with him, he says you’re The One and pines away. I call that ex The LOSER :)

    • Isabella says...

      I have a couple of those! And there should be a special subset for the ex who didn’t appreciate you when you were together, and then waits *until you’ve just committed to someone else* to tell you that you’re The One and that they burn with unendurable regret.

    • NS says...

      I have a LOSER ex. My LOSER ex turned into my STALKER ex and the police had to get called. Apparently he thought we were still together 1.5 years after we broke up !

    • Tara says...

      My ex-husband left me suddenly and very unkindly. 2 years later he saw me at a bar with my boyfriend and screamed and drove off in his Prius which looks SO lame when trying to make a statement because it makes zero noise. The universe was telling me exactly what I needed. Thank you, next.

    • Caroline says...

      Laughing so much at Tara’s comment with the Prius!!!

  80. Libby says...

    can we add The Ostrich? Stick your head in the ground and forget it ever happened. If you ever see them in public they’ll play along too and act like nothing ever happened.

    I’m guilty of the calendar alert except it was because my ex and I had the same birthday so it’s impossible to forget. I saw them the other day and wished them and early birthday and they just stared at me blankly. I walked away a little bit embarrassed and they yelled out behind me ” I SEE YOU GEMINI!” …maybe they remembered too?

    • Heather says...

      Hahahaha YES The Ostrich!

  81. Andrea says...

    The Emotional Detacher: This ex disappeared from your life the moment he broke up with you. Was he ever real? Did you really spend five years together? It all could have been a dream if not for the thousands of photos you can’t bring yourself to delete from your iCloud because then you’d be deleting your early 20s. It’s been five years since you last saw this ex and you’ve married the love of your life but you’re still terrified to bump into him on your evening commute.

    • Emma says...

      THIS. I very recently went through this exact type of breakup, and I’m just mystified. Some days I think it’s for the best, and other days I’m absolutely crushed that after years of closeness, he could break up with me “cold turkey.” I’ve never met anyone else who’s had zero contact with an ex in the weeks following, and this was oddly comforting to read.

    • Courtney says...

      Yep. Yep yep yep. I just got goosebumps reading this, it’s so relevant.

    • Megan says...

      I’m 100% this ex to several people. It causes me haunting dreams for about a decade, but I can’t imagine staying close with an ex. And that’s, like, the one area where I lack imagination!

    • Renee says...

      I’m going through this exact thing, about three months out of it now. We dated for years, lived together, had a dog, and one day – poof! It is soul-crushing and mystifying. BUT it is slowly getting better in a 2 steps forward, one step back kind of way (and I got the dog).

    • Michelle says...

      ” It all could have been a dream if not for the thousands of photos you can’t bring yourself to delete from your iCloud because then you’d be deleting your early 20s.”

      This resonated with me so much. I cannot bear to delete the photos or the memories, since it was six years of my life. I met my now love through my ex, so I can’t even say I regret it. But I do regret that it was six years long and that I cannot get those years back.

    • beth says...

      Andrea, as someone who once got rid of everything I owned save what fit in a suitcase and 2 tote bags in a manic moment of clearing out all the drama from my life- including all my photo albums (this was 1998, and my teens and early twenties were documented on actual film), I beg you not to delete your photos!! Gone are photos of several exes, but also tons of photos from my first trip to Europe, with other friends I never see anymore (and some who are no longer living), and what life was like in the 90s, when my skin was young and dewy, my hair was dark and healthy, and the times were mostly fantastic, even with some of those exes. Be strong! Make a folder to hide them, but don’t delete your youth!