Things not to say when you hang out with your ex

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

We’re sitting on the balcony in the candlelight, at two o’clock in the morning: my ex and I. And I do not say any of the things I want to say, because there’s no point saying them now. We chat and laugh and are gentle with each other, and he smells really good and he’s beautiful. So I don’t say ‘what the fuck’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ or ‘mate, I fucking loved you.’ When you hang out with your ex, there are certain things you’re just not meant to say.

I nip inside to grab water for us both, and bring it out with a grin. Sit down awkwardly, rip my cheap jeans, pretend to be embarrassed. And I don’t say ‘what went wrong with us?’ because it’s pointless. His answer won’t match mine, and that’s only one part of the problem. We’ll descend into one of those break-up nightmares where I’m mouthing words but no sound comes out, and he doesn’t hear or can’t understand and it doesn’t matter anyway. Or he’ll tell me, earnestly, what his answer is, and I won’t be able to bring myself to believe him.

So instead I say ‘I got you some water’ and he says ‘cheers’ and we smalltalk about the weather.

He smells so good and looks so good and my heart hurts so fucking much for him.

I tell myself repeatedly that it isn’t right to be here. It isn’t good for me to run head-first into this pain, over and over. That the brief and intense pleasure I get from drinking in his company – holding him and touching him and laughing with him and oh God oh Christ, fucking him – it’s not worth it for the misery hangover afterwards.

I try to summon the courage to tell him we should stop doing this, but I fail. Instead I say ‘how’s your family?’ and ‘have you listened to the latest episode of that economics podcast?’ and ‘I brought your post from the house.’ It takes effort and work to remember to call it ‘the house’ and no longer ‘home’, and even more effort not to say ‘Goddammit, Jesus Christ mate I loved you so fucking much.’

I tell him about my lockdown hobbies. How I’ve been learning BSL and going on long bike rides. I update him with stories from friends scattered elsewhere – who’s happy, who’s struggling, who’s just painted their kitchen and who’s getting laid. And every second I spend reeling off these headlines is another second I’ve successfully not said ‘I thought you loved me, oh God fuck I was so sure that you loved me.’

We drink and smoke and dance and fuck and he tells me I look good and I say ‘same.’ And then we sit by the candlelight on the balcony, and I bite my lip and try not to ask him the question you should never ask your ex. The one that burns most brightly:

Why didn’t you love me?

Because that’s it, isn’t it? That’s the one. That’s the biggie. All the shit that happened can be picked apart and analysed and turned over and over, but ultimately all I’m reaching for is the answer to that question: why didn’t you fucking love me, man?

I don’t say that, of course. As I say, his answer won’t match mine. And there are far better questions that a stronger me might ask than this: it’s pointless. A total nonsense.

But as two am turns to three and I start to get drowsy, I lean my head on his shoulder and allow myself to whisper:

“Fuck. I fucking miss you.”



  • Mark says:

    A thing I’ve learned is not that your Ex doesn’t love you, or not that they didn’t love you enough or vice versa. It’s that you loved oneanother enough to understand that some differences were insurmountable and that it wouldn’t be fair on either person to make the sacrifices that would be required to make those differences workable. Different relationships and all that, but it’s helping me a fair bit. I won’t say the tags, hang in there girl.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Cheers Mark – you’re right of course, and I fully know that the question itself is entirely nonsense, which is part of the reason why I don’t ask it =) But yeah, you’re right, and it’s OK. I’m honestly fine, I just sometimes like capturing these weird/sad feelings along with the horny ones. Edited to add – I hope you’re doing OK too and getting through the tough stuff xx

  • Phillip says:

    Sometimes people make poor choices that they only come to see as poor choices much later. He misses you and is probably edging towards “I don’t know what I could have been thinking”. Serious. If there was something serious enough to tear the sheets over you would know what it was. So he and hence both of you would know what it was. I don’t know what you want, but love is only very seldom logical. Best of luck to both of you in these unpredictable currents! I think that ‘logic’ always deserves intense scrutiny when it comes to love.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah no. I understand the desire to do this but honestly please don’t try to guess or ascribe feelings to him – the only person who can know what he’s feeling is him, and it’s not something that it’s fair for me to speculate on. I might almost go so far as to say that the way he feels about me now is none of my business any more. As I said to Mark above – I like capturing these weird/sad feelings along with some of the hornier ones, because otherwise this blog becomes very samey, and also because I’m human and sometimes it’s impossible to write the porny/funny/political ones while this heavier stuff is sitting in my head. I am just a nerd for feelings, and I like to explore the weird shit my heart churns out even though my rational brain might sternly disagree =)

  • Beth in Arizona says:

    That was really a beautiful post. And I understand a little bit about what you’re going through. Obviously none of us really knows what happened in your relationship but I would I think that if he didn’t care for you at all he wouldn’t see you or talk to you or fuck you, or is it making love? He’s pending time with you still , maybe he’s having a hard time letting you go. Somewhere deep down he loves you or you two wouldn’t have been together all these years and had shared so many fun experiences together.
    You tell your readers a lot about how you’re feeling which I admire. It shows that you’re a real person and you are hurting inside. You probably don’t want some people’s advice but maybe it’s okay for you to open up and let your readers know a little bit about why you broke up and you might actually get some good advice?
    GOTN, I think he does Love you

    • Girl on the net says:

      It’s very kind of you to offer advice, and I understand it’s a completely natural thing to want to do, but honestly I don’t think anyone could offer me helpful advice for the simple reason that you only ever see a tiny part of the story here. I would never want to tell the blog all the detail about why we broke up because I don’t think it would be fair to my ex, and any kind of analysing on that front would essentially write him out of the story in a way that’s wildly unfair. I’ve said here on the blog before that I want to be kind to him, and so the upshot of that is that you’re far more likely to read posts about how I miss him than posts giving any kind of fuller detail about the complexity of the last few months. As I say, I fully know that this question – ‘why didn’t you love me?!’ – is a total nonsense. It’s pointless and ridiculous to ask, which is why I don’t ask it. But I write about these feelings because this is what I do, and it felt like an interesting thing to explore. As you say, it’s a nice post, and writing about that feeling/those moments was cathartic and interesting and helpful, even though the underlying feelings are messy and make people want to offer me advice. I promise I’m getting excellent advice and support from my friends at the moment though, so please take these blogposts for no more than what they are: snapshots of feelings at specific moments in time, written to exorcise feelings and maybe help other people who are going through/have been through similar things process their own feelings too.

  • Dilara says:

    I enjoy reading your horny posts so much. But since you split up with your Ex, I‘m in love. Your words, your grownup and mature way to talk about it, the description of this intimate and so emotional and hurtful moments… This is pure heartache. Thanks for sharing it with us with your wonderful words.

  • ftandhubby says:

    I just finished reading your latest post and returned here to this one. I think your latest post answered the question at least to the extent that you explained to your audience how much of the story we will never know. Why? was the feeling I had after first reading this post. I have questions (as I’m sure many readers do). Most of mine started with why. Why did you break up? Why do you put yourself through the pain of reconnecting with your ex? Lots of why’s so in the interest of economy and sharing that feeling with you I thought a one word post would convey that feeling. My partner and I have a fun rule (at least we think its fun), in the absence of information from friends’ family or others we know who for personal reasons may choose to leave out the details of a particular story we make up our own. It’s just for fun and just for the two of us. I’m sorry you have to go through this. Thanks for sharing what you have.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ah got you! Thank you for elaborating, I appreciate it.

      “ Why did you break up? Why do you put yourself through the pain of reconnecting with your ex?”

      I’ll let you invent your own answer for the first one (which sounds like a LOT of fun – if you could make at least one of us an international spy called away indefinitely on secret business that’d make us sound way cooler than we are), and to the second one the answer is: because he asked me. There’s probably a longer answer in here that I might have a crack at one day.

  • Jeb Blue says:

    But you have asked him in a very public post that he will read? 🤷‍♂️

    • Girl on the net says:

      I haven’t *asked him*, because I don’t write the blog for him, I write the blog for readers and for me. I am not sure that he reads any more – I definitely wouldn’t ever *assume* he reads and therefore use the blog as some weird way to ask him a question that I could instead just ask to his face if I were so inclined! This guy knew me intimately for a long time, since before I became GOTN: he understands this all in a way that I don’t think most people do, and I think even if he came across this blog he would never see it as a question that he’d feel compelled to answer.

  • Jess says:

    I’ve just had a breakup and I don’t know how to talk to him anymore, I think I just get upset over anything that he says. Thank you so much for writing this article, you wrote everything that I’ve been meaning to ask him but I didn’t/don’t/try not to bcz I feel no answer would satisfy me. And now yeah, I’m just going to share this post with him. Hopefully that should lead to some meaningful conversation.

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