Sometimes, the universe gets a kick out of watching you squirm. What other explanation is there for running into your ex at inopportune moments? Ugly moments. Fat moments. Stained tracksuit moments. Moments when you’re not at your shiny, sexy, my-life-is-so-much-happier-now best.
It doesn’t really matter whether you were the dumper or the dumpee. The
desire to look, sound and be utterly fantastic is equallly potent. It’s
the coat of armour you need when face to face with someone who has seen
you naked and knows where your emotional skeletons are buried.
The universal rule for bumping into an ex is generally this: the more you still care about what they think, the worse you will look.
My friend Marnie is proof. When she was dumped last year, she became one of those girls who wore blush and a blow-dry just to get milk. She was determined to win the ex game of My Life Is Better Without You In It.
So of course the one time she leapt out of her double-parked car to drop off a DVD, hung-over, wearing a baggy tee with no bra, shorts with no drawstring that she had to hold with one hand, no makeup, a pimple on her top lip that looked like a cold-sore, and hair that managed to be both greasy and frizzy at the same time, he was standing at the ATM. With a stunning girl. A stunning girl who was about 20. Marnie is 36.
“He wanted to chat and I didn’t want to look like a jealous bitch which meant I couldn’t just brush them and bolt back to the car,” she cringes. “So I stood there and I chatted to him and Miss Flossy Pants and I wanted to die. I must have replayed that scene in my head a million times. It never got any better. Funny how now I’m in love with someone else and I don’t care about him anymore, I’ve run into him several times while looking totally excellent.”
Another friend had a cruel run of ex encounters outside her beautician which was inconveniently located in Oxford / Chapel street. Fertile ground for weekend ex bumping. This wasn’t the kind of beautician where you have a lovely wafty massage and emerge glowing and relaxed. Oh no. This was the kind where you leave limping after a particularly brutal Brazilian with red welts on your face from getting your eyebrows and top lip waxed into submission. The perfect time to blast yourself back to the past you shared with someone who is now a stranger.
Bumping into an ex is like bumping into an old version of yourself. You’re talking to them but you’re remembering the person you were during that relationship. This is often disconcerting. And cringe making. I once had the unexpected karma bonus of seeing an ex on the street immediately after having my hair blow-dried (as per the universal law, I cared so little what he thought of me I could’ve been wearing a Santa suit). As we did the obligatory stilted catch-up, I kept losing my concentration, distracted by the persistent voice in my head saying: “Was he this boring when we were together? Did I simply not notice the dullness? How could I have gone there? What was I thinking?”