Most of my exes have children on Facebook

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

Most of my exes on Facebook now have children. This says less about the fertility of my ex-boyfriends than the people I stay friends with on facebook, to be honest. Still: of the ex-partners that I am still friends with on facebook, the majority of them have kids.

The safe ex-partners are easy to stay in touch with on Facebook. There’s no drama in me ‘liking’ that they’re having an ice cream in the sun, or visiting a National Trust castle with a buggy and an ambitious picnic. They’re just there, and happy, and occasionally still temptingly hot. But mostly they’re just faces doing nice things that make me smile.

One of my friends recently told me that she’d been to an ex-boyfriend’s wedding. I’ve not done that yet – I’ve never been invited. Gutting, really, because I’m great at weddings: I dance with all the creepy uncles and help tidy up leftover wine.

Anyway. She was telling me about the wedding, and about his new wife, and about all the feelings that it stirred up. They’re her feelings, not mine, so I won’t put them here.

But it got me thinking about all the people my exes went on to make a life with: all of the people I’m not.

I’ve imagined lives with so many people. The men I’ve been with for years have all prompted dreams of Big Things: what I’d say in a speech at a wedding to so-and-so. Not just significant ones, either – there are guys I’ve spent a single night with who have featured in daydreams and plans. I plan and daydream about everyone, because it’s fun. What we’d be in five years’ time if we could be bothered to stay together. What we’d call our children. The fights we’d have over whether to move out of London.

Bizarrely, someone else gets to have those conversations with these guys now. There are other people who get to pick up their socks and fold their t-shirts and fuck them insensible on a Saturday night. Others who get to see how their face twitches when they’re hiding a smile or how their dick twitches when they’re close to coming. People who had more of an impact than I did, or who suited them better than me. Who loved harder, tried harder, or simply timed it right.

When I talked to my friend about the wedding thing, she asked if I ever wondered how things would have turned out if I’d stayed with this guy or that one. Do I ever wonder if life would be better if I were one of those other people?

Of course I think about being those people – it’s a fun thought experiment in Someone Else’s Life. But it’s only fun for a while – in the same way someone else could pick up my shoes, walk in them for a bit, then decide the whole experience was a bit too gross or weird or stressful and they’d rather pop back to their real life now. The same way I wonder if life would be better if I were one of those people who runs, or one of those people who teaches TEFL in Korea, or one of those people who joins a consultancy firm and earns big bucks before burning out at thirty five.

All the people in all the lives I almost-but-not-quite-had. The people who walked up the aisle or had babies or moved to the countryside with my ex-boyfriends. The ones who chose to fight for this or that particular dude where I failed or gave up trying. It’s easy to picture ‘what might have been’ but I think I’d be kidding myself if I did so with a tinge of envy or even a wistful nostalgia.

It’s fun to picture but not fun to mourn: if I were one of them, then I’d never have got to be me.

1 Comment

  • pir says:

    While not too many I have been to at least two ex’s weddings, at least one for a friend I sleep with sometimes and invited to a few others (usually in the US and not able to make it)… it helps that most of my exs were from open relationships so it doesn’t really matter about the involvement or safeness.

    The thing that particularly amused me about the first of them was the bride wanted a picture of her with all of her exs who were there, about 4 of us as I recall. We’re in her official wedding pictures. It was a pretty good wedding and not just because later in the day I was taking pictures of a hot girl draped over my brand new motorbike.

    Marriage isn’t the end of involvements, people can still be temptingly hot (and the first ex whose wedding I went to I did end up sleeping with again a few years later). The people I’m far more likely to wonder about are the ones where things ended badly; could I have done anything differently? What are they doing now? A far smaller sample of people I’m not in touch with any more than those I am.

    If my ex-wife gets remarried that might be weirder to attend… I would likely be invited, she and I get on quite well.

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