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A love letter to my ex partners

I rarely stop loving someone just because I’ve stopped fucking them. The end of a sexual relationship doesn’t always mean the end of a relationship altogether. In all likelihood we were friends before our genitals ever touched. Whether it was a one-off shag, a short-but-sweet playtime, or a long-term commitment, there’s something we’ve shared that I’ll be gutted to let go of.

I’m feeling a bit wistful and nostalgic at the moment, to tell the truth. An article I wrote for The Debrief, in which I had to contact a bunch of my exes and get them to give me sex reviews, left me reeling. As I made a list of people, trying to work out who to ask, I found myself overwhelmed by how many people I’ve shagged that I’m still on ‘hey can I ask you a random question?’ terms with.

By my best estimates, I’m in instant email touch with 50% of the people I’ve slept with, albeit not all of them are regular drinking buddies or the kind of people I’d invite to a party. There are three or four people I wouldn’t want to contact, on the grounds that they were either arseholes or that we had nothing in common besides a desire to rub up against each other. Some people I’ve lost touch with but would buy coffee for in a heartbeat if I bumped into them in the street. And some still give me that happy/sad/happy ache of knowing that I can’t fuck them again, but that it was oh-God-so-good while it lasted.

Did you like me?

It sounds a bit High Fidelity to get in touch with people and go ‘hey, can you tell me how I was in bed?’ but it was kinda fun, and writing for Debrief gives me a chance to do these odd and interesting things (like watching all the porn documentaries on Netflix – a long weekend’s worth of work that still influences what the app recommends).

But the question itself is relatively easy, especially because those people who’d be less keen to answer it are likely the ones I’m not in touch with any more: the guy at Uni who fucked me once, with less enthusiasm than if he were fixing a broken toaster. The dude who – despite my repeated requests that he just fucking stop it – insisted on continuing to pull my hair until strands and strands came out onto the bedsheet. The girl I shagged in a tent. Badly.

The people I contacted are exactly the kind of people I most enjoy having sex with: kind ones. Considerate ones. People who are comfortable telling me what I’m like in bed, or equally comfortable saying ‘sorry, mate, I’m not sure I can do that.’

To be honest, though, while it’s intensely flattering to hear that I wasn’t completely awful in bed, and the exercise itself was a fun one, I suspect the actual question most of us would ask ex partners is ‘did you like me?’ It’s far broader and more telling than a query about sexual proficiency – we’ll forgive any amount of falling off the bed and shouting out the wrong name if the person doing it is good enough.

I guess that’s why I’m writing this, to be honest. Not in the vague hope that ex-partners will email to say ‘of course I liked you, dickhead’ but to do the opposite – to say that I liked them. A lot. And the like, love, lust and friendship doesn’t go away just because we’re no longer shagging.

Whether we hang out all the time, email once a year, or just like each other’s statuses on facebook occasionally – I still look at some of these people and think ‘damn. How the hell was I lucky enough to have you?’

7 Comments

  • I found myself nodding my head and agreeing all the way through this! Just wanted to say how much I appreciate we share a close viewpoint here :-)

    xx Dee

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you Dee =) Delighted you have the same thing. I see so much negative ‘argh my ex is such a nob’ stuff online that I think it’s worth giving some appreciation to all the exes who are awesome.

      x

  • furo says:

    also concurring. was talking to someone i’d slept with about this exactly and i love love love that you’ve expressed it so neatly and perfectly. thank you for writing this <3

  • I’m still in touch with the first real boyfriend I ever had from high school. lo those many years ago. We never were quite able to bump uglies {more due to physical complications than any lack of want}, but we sure made out like humping fools. And he was so kind, generous, patient, loving — to this day I ask myself that question: How the hell was I lucky enough to have you? So, this thought applies even to those without we haven’t quite shagged. I think what comes into the heart, stays in the heart. Whether it was a brief hello or repeated visitations, good people stay with us in spirit. Likewise, I’ve forgotten all the asshats I’ve ever slept with. Why waste limited memory space on bullshit that doesn’t matter? So yeah — this is my long winded way of saying, “I hear what you’re saying. Those great people? They sure were great.”

  • Chris says:

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who passed away in 2014, writing in his autobiography, “Vivir Para Contarla,” an looking back from age 78 had an interesting take on life, and it applies to those we’ve fallen into or out of bed with.

    His view is that one’s life isn’t the actual events and actions of a lifetime, but rather the stories one tells while here, and those stories repeated and told about him or her after that person has gone the way of all mortal flesh. It offers a prospect of immortality, or at least extended longevity, through stories.

    I know that I’ve been an unusual roll in the sack, and someone that my ex-wife and girlfriends will talk about over a pitcher of margaritas with the girls for a good long time. I’m not bragging, because I don’t say that I was a particularly good lay, certainly not for many of them. What I can say is that I was higoy unusual, a story worth telling. I like that.

  • Annie says:

    This was a truly beautiful thing to do; something I wish I had done.

    I’ve been married over a decade, and regrettably long since fallen out of touch with the small handful of exes that I had (I married young). Although I wouldn’t know anymore how to reach them, I know that for all but one, we would’ve been genuinely glad to bump into each other again out in the world. I always thought that I would, at some point, see them all again.

    Last summer, through a friend of a friend of my husband on facebook, I got some bad news. S – my first boyfriend, first fuck – had died. He was only 37. I never did find out the details; the family did not host a memorial and, knowing him from 20 years ago, I’m left to wonder if it was suicide or overdose.

    I was surprised at the absolute sucker punch to the heart when I heard the news. I bawled like a baby. Hell, I’m crying now. I know that I was a big deal to him. I wish I had made the effort to find him at least once in all the years in between to find him and let him know he was a big deal to me.

  • james says:

    The way you narrate yourself is totally amazing. I found that we almost share a same view point.

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