Advice, Happiness

The Ex-Girlfriend Club

When I was 16 I met a boy called Will*. Will was my first everything: first boyfriend, first “I love you”, first other-person-orgasm, first p in my v.

But I wasn’t Will’s first any of those. That title in his life belonged to a girl called Chelsea, subsequently becoming another first for me: the first ex girlfriend.

These were simpler times. Pre Instagram and pre Facebook boom, it took a mutual acquaintance causally mentioning Chelsea for me to find out about her, around four months into our then very teenage relationship.

Of course, I’d recently been experiencing multiple overwhelming emotions for the very first time, such as attachment, sexual connection, vaginal stimulation and the gag reflex. None of these shocked me (the gag reflex comes in at a close second) or hit me quite so hard as the pure stomach turning gut wrenching jealously I felt upon learning of what I envisioned of Will’s “First Love”. Suddenly, our relationship felt tainted, which sounds very Victorian I know, and is strange because it’s not like I ever thought he was a virgin. Funnily enough, the fact that he wasn’t a virgin when he met me made me fancy him even more and installed a confidence that he’d take the wheel on my loss of virginity experience. But now, after discovering the details, I wished that I’d been his first. The awful, juvenile terms “sloppy seconds” and “upgrade/downgrade” was rife in our small town Essex gossip culture. I wasn’t anyone’s seconds. He was. I didn’t feel special anymore.

And to make it worse, she was hot. I tried to find faults in her to comfort my ignorant pubescent woman brain, but failed. She was tall and blonde, with a sexiness about her. I instantly compared this to myself, the unsexed round faced brunette tomboy in thick rimmed glasses, and for the first time ever, contemplated my own attractiveness. My awkward stage went on for longer than most (can we just forget pre-2011 didn’t happen?) whereas it seemed as if she’d never even endured one. As the law of attraction would have it, now knowing her face and name, I started seeing her everywhere on our college campus, but refused to acknowledge her existence, even to my friends. I didn’t need their opinions or even the truth, and I wasn’t insecure enough to put her down in order to pull myself up. She never caused trouble in any way. She was just living her life. But to me, she was the bitch that my boyfriend loved before me.

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(I literally ignored her existence at this party and we still managed to – kind of – be in the same photo.)

We’re raised well prepared for relationships and “love”, but no one ever warned me of the ex girlfriend game. Once over the age of 18, chances are your significant other has known genitalia other than your own. It seems like a simple fact of life, but one we are never emotionally prepped for or allowed to be honest about. No girl wants to be the “psycho” or to ruin her new relationship ‘cool girl’ myth. But if you tell me that you don’t know your S.O’s ex’s name, guess what – I don’t believe you.

Because, for every man I’ve been romantically or sexually involved in, I’ve known at least one ex by name or face, whether I’ve searched them out, stumbled across them or simply heard stories straight from the man’s mouth. Unless you’ve known them personally, they become a ghost like presence in the back of your sub conscious, even if it is a tiny little thought in a darker moment of the day, existing in a universe parallel to your own – still kissing and loving the man that is now yours. Their names become harder to pronounce, as if even the phonetic produces a venom, paralysing your lips. And even if their name is rarely mentioned, no matter what age, to some degree your person shared experiences and parts of their life with this other person. So in getting to know your person to the best of human ability, they’re going to remain in there somewhere, however much hidden.

To date, Chelsea is the only ex I’ve had no choice but to share an intimate space with, i.e a campus, a corridor or a mutual friends party. I’ve seen others in social situations that have been easy to escape from. I even worked with one, but didn’t have to be in close proximity with her. Chelsea is the only ex who’s persona was crafted in real life. All of the others have been created in a cosmic space between my brain and the internet.

For all the advantages that technology has granted us, among it’s negatives are the utensils to feed our curiosity in this particular subject. A simple Google search could show you half a dozen different medias that she has used over the years. I once found myself three years deep into an ex’s blog, flooded with photos of her and the guy on amazing holidays, making that past parallel universe far too present. And as the years have gone on it’s become as easy as a swipe of the index finger to fall head first down the rabbit hole and suddenly find your self finger slipping on a photo she posted 120 weeks ago. Social media gives us the tools to construct these once mysterious figures from the past. A 140 character tweet somehow acts as an autobiographical look into their soul, as does an over used Emoji or a one sentence self-bio.

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^THE WORST. 

You may believe that my behaviour and outlook is “psycho”. I’m ok with that, because I could name you twenty girls that have admitted to the same behaviours, and if we’re all psychos, then I guess we’re psychos. My own mother, at 53, tries to hide the flames in her eyes whenever her partners ex wife is mentioned, but fails. Thank God she doesn’t know how to use Facebook. It’s an organic emotion and action given our lives and culture mixed with our female animalistic instincts. It’s completely out of my usual nature and conscious control: I try my best to love or at least appreciate and support all women. But mixed with this possessive, jealous, stereotypically Leo outlook of needing to be the very best and perhaps a deep down insecurity within relationships, I’ve projected my inward thoughts onto their uniquely-crafted-by-me personas, and created monsters, of which are (probably) very far from their true selves. Take it through extensive experience, stalking is a game you enter with absolutely zero chances of winning, as is comparing yourself or your present relationship to any other human or past relationship. You will never come out of a stalk feeling better about yourself, as much as you like to believe the unflattering drunk photo of her does. Even this paragraph made me hate myself… But truthfully it’s never ever good to feel like that. It’s all about understanding our own brains and situations and having clarity, and not feeling guilt over emotions we don’t understand.

It’s taken me years to establish clarity on why we seek out the ex. I think it begins rather innocently as purely fierce curiosity – trying to work out if he has a type and if you fit it, or measure up to her level, even though a true ‘level’ will never exist. Plus, curiosity over our own metaperception: if I see her a certain way, does he see that in me? Is that how I appear to others? If she is forced into your personal business by way of contact – I’ve had a few weird messages from some scorned ex’s and one that has called the guy while I was sitting next to him to tell him she missed him – it becomes even harder not to investigate a potential ‘threat’. For me personally, this curiosity has at times murdered, butchered and dismembered the cat, and developed into a weird sort of morbid fascination. I’ve paralleled our lives so freely that it’s almost scary – 141 weeks ago when exhibit A. was in New York being a successful supermodel, I was crying after my first fashion week in London. 214 weeks ago when exhibit B. was loved up with my current love… Oh… I was loved up with my ex love… Awkward.

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The worst type of photo to see whilst stalking his ex / anyone could ever post. 

Which leads perfectly to another interesting comparison: unless you males have a secret community with a strict confidentiality agreement, you seem to react to our ex’s in the complete opposite way – remaining so confident in your patriarchal position that you just lack that need to compare, analyse and care whatsoever. When asked if he cared about in any way or had stalked any of his gf’s ex’s, one male friend laughed, and could only muster, “Why would I?”. Following continued probing, he later added, “I guess if she’s with me now, there’s just no need or want to go looking into her past. The past is the past. You girls seem to love the past”.

I can’t help but agree with that generalisation. But in these irrational, jealous moments, we also seem to magically forget that we have our own pasts, once too featuring other people: perhaps even more in love and having even better sex. There have been a few ex girlfriend’s that I have seen as SO beautiful, in a emotionally distressful time when I couldn’t feel worse about myself, convincing myself that I was the ugly one after a string of Candice Swanepoel’s. It didn’t help that a friend of the boyfriend, every time she drank, told me she loved me and that I was so much better than his most recent ex. “You’re great. I mean, she was BEAUTIFUL, but so cardboard. You are so clever and funny!” The first time she said it, I took it as a compliment. By the third time that she’d repeated the exact same sentence, all I managed to hear was, “SHE was BEAUTIFUL” – i.e, you’re not. I felt too embarrassed to tell my boyfriend at that time, so confided in another male, who cuttingly told me, “Even if she is way hotter, why do you care? You’ve had way hotter men than *****, but you still prefer him. It’s obviously the same with him otherwise he’d still be with her and wouldn’t want to be with you.”

Here’s an exercise for you: Close your eyes and picture your “best looking” boyfriend/sexual partner. I don’t mean your most attractive over all to you or the one you fancy or love the most. I mean the usual consensus of what’s physically “good looking” to the general public.

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If it’s your current, lucky you, I guess he’s perfect. But chances are he’s the guy from your past that had good looks and not a lot else. Now compare them to your current, in the same way you’ve compared yourself to his ex’s. In my case, exhibit Lol’sFromMyPast was a 6’4 male model gym buff who turned my flatmate’s gooey eyed and wet knickered. He was also dumb and dull as fuck and gave me nothing but something nice to look at, the novelty of which wore off after three weeks, which was still far too long. Exhibt SexiestManInMyEyes was an intelligent, endlessly interesting and charismatic, 5’9, un photogenic, wonky nosed tech geek, who gave me more orgasms than my right hand. The result? What does “looks” matter? Looks are nothing to do with love or even attractiveness and are always completely in the eye of the beholder anyway. Ask me which man I’d pick given the chance out of the two – I’d pick the latter in a fraction of a heartbeat every single time, with absolutely no thought needed.

We see every little thing that could be wrong with us, when others just see you in all your perfectly imperfect glory. I think women think that men think about “looks” ten times more than they actually do. If my current boyfriend told me he’d been humped over on the sofa stalking my ex on his phone for an hour, accidentally liking a year old picture in the process, I’d be dumbfounded. I’d demand to know what had lead him to such a time wasting activity. The ex couldn’t be further from my mind, living in another parallel universe filled with people who’s body parts once touched your mouth but who’s presence you now could not care less about.

Coincidentally, there’s other people I could not care less about, who’s bodies haven’t been near my mouth or any other orifice: my ex boyfriends’ current girlfriends’.

While conducting an albeit light study on other girls’ feeling towards ‘the ex’, another target came to light organically: 8 out of 10 girls I asked were very interested in their current’s ex, but 7 of those added that they also looked for and resented their ex’s current. This is really interesting to me, as it is honestly something that I am not effected by. Luckily, by the time they’ve moved on, I’ve moved on. I’ve been forced to acknowledge their existence, online and in person, but have never ever ever felt that little jealousy twinge I’ve had for ex’s. When I see the currents, I can appreciate their looks or overall character without compromising my own, sometimes even KNOWING that they are way prettier than me, and – I promise you – not caring one little bit. I don’t know exactly what the difference is, or how I can hold such opposing views on the two, or why some girls feel the opposite way. Perhaps that’s a-whole-nuva article.

Lastly, another super important thing to realise in order to come to terms with their ex is the strong likeliness that you are or one day will be the ex girlfriend to someone’s boyfriend. Imagine a girl you’ve never had anything to do with, examining your thoughtless Instagram posts, thinking you’re dumb and wondering if he found you prettier. Freaky Matrix style shit, huh? Ever had a boyfriend talk shit about his ex? He’ll probably be talking shit about you to his new girlfriend in a year from now.

After the first year of my relationship, I never saw Chelsea again, but if I saw her name on a friend’s Facebook, did I have a little look? Of course. Although, as time went on it became way less frequent, until after three years Will and I broke up for good. As my experience in men grew, so did my experience in mythic “ex girlfriend’s”. In turn, the longer I was with the man, the less I cared about the ex’s. I’ve come to realise, that you really only fully get over the girl when you get over the guy. With no judgement, I can’t help but wonder if the girls that have an issue with their ex’s current, perhaps aren’t over either of them.

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Earlier this year, I received a random LinkedIn invitation from none other than Chelsea. A name that once bubbled my blood now just rung prettily in my ears, and was one I realised had been buried deep in the past. The memories of my past feeling towards her shocked me, and suddenly everything clicked. I found clarity.

I accepted, saw a link to her blog and spent the next hour reading. She seemed cool and clever and exactly my type of girl. I somehow felt I owed it to my 16 year old self, to add her on Facebook and tell her I loved her writing – call it writer karma if you will. A week later we met for the first time. I was excited to finally speak to her and debunk the myths in my head. But like a first date, I was nervous we wouldn’t get on and I’d have to devise an escape route through a public toilet window.

Happy ending alert: we did get on, shared a few bottles of wine and laughed hours away without any weird “what-shall-I-say-now?” moments. In fact, I think I get on with her easier than I ever got on with Will. If you’d have shown a 16 year old me this scene from her future, she never would have believed you.

It’s so weird to think that, the way I feel about Will and whoever his current girlfriend may be now, is the same way Chelsea felt about Will and I way back then. She was over him, not caring who I was. I was in love with him, caring way too much about her. And now seven years later, we were in a bar in Notting Hill together, getting on so well that the topic of our once shared ‘love’ was the dullest and briefest thread of the evening’s conversation.

A POEM:

So remember, ex girlfriends are humans too
living their own unique lives as are you
If you’re cool and he finds you’re cool
chances are she’s cool
and you’d find her cool too.

Give it a few years – who knows – you could be friends.

ALL PHOTOS AND IMAGES FEATURED ARE COURTESY OF GOOGLE IMAGES & FACEBOOK.

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Happiness

“You can’t judge a girl by her (stunningly beautiful) face.”

‘Beauty’ is constantly shoved down our throats like a binge of the most delicious food you can imagine. My job entails being forever surrounded by the most visually pleasing winners of the genetic lottery.

Of course it’s hard not to compare yourself to all these magnificent creatures but for the most part – unless I’m feeling ultra gross and stuffing my face with peanut butter and chocolate – I can completely remove myself from that evil place of comparison and just enjoy and appreciate the beauty in others.

But… it has made me realise one thing – beauty, as we know it, means absolutely NOTHING if what’s inside that person isn’t beautiful. It’s the most cliche of cliches, but like most cliches, it is 100% unescapable. I have recently encountered jealousy, insecurity and downright nastiness from a particular female individual that I dare not name. Previous to this, I had been in awe of her physicality. She has exotic features and a pretty innocence, also able to be incredibly sexy and womanly when she wants to be. Having never actually had a proper conversation with her, I took it upon myself to subconsciously judge her and assume we would get on swimmingly. Why wouldn’t we? She looked “nice”, whatever that means.

I won’t go into any details about our altercation. All I know is that now, when she pops up on my social networks, or I notice her on a billboard or in a magazine, instead of marvelling at her obvious beauty, all I see is ugliness. There are a lot of beautiful “2D” people out there. But when it comes to ‘real’ people (that’s people that we know in real life, that we see in person day to day – not people we think we know but actually just read what they’re up to in 140 characters or less) it’s a rare thing to find a truly genuine beautiful person. It’s beautiful because it’s so unordinary.

Roald Dahl said, “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” Romantic as it may be, he’s completely spot on. It’s not about your looks. There is a tremendously HUGE difference between being good looking and being attractive. I’m certain that I have the most mesmerisingly gorgeous group of best friends, not only because yes, they’re lookers, but mainly because they are so bloody great on the inside that their amazing energies are shining through to the outside.

Another cliche is that Love is Blind. It most certainly is, but you know what? I’m fine with that. You may not be everyones cup of tea, but if you are wildly attractive on the inside then someone will fall wildly in love with you and see you as the most beautiful person on this planet. I think my boyfriend is the most handsome man I’ve ever laid eyes on, because I am so attracted to all aspects of him. I think my best model friends top any Victoria Secret model (my friend Maddie is so ridiculously beautiful outside AND inside that when I see her all I do is stroke her face while trying to listen to her stories). I think my mum is the prettiest woman in the world. Just like I know that many, many people must think that above un named female individual is great in all aspects, and not just her perfectly symmetrical face.

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Advice, Happiness, Inspiration

Girls: why do we fight over men?

It’s not easy being a women:

We bleed for a week a month for forty years straight.

Western society makes us shave our legs every two days.

We have to force a bowling ball (a really big bowling ball) out of our little lady parts… Sometimes more than once.

And that’s without the everyday negative energies surrounding female relationships, our perceptions of each other and the subtle, yet brutal, ever present war within our own gender. As little girls, when our minds are tiny sucking sponges, fairy tales within books, movies or fables force us little girls to witness the beautiful Princesses as targets of bitchy behaviour. The ugly sisters wreck Cinderella’s gown to prevent her from impressing the Prince. The mermaids literally attempt to drown Wendy because they are jealous of her relationship with heart throb Peter Pan. Snow White’s step mum poisons her. Already, when the thoughts of dating, sex and marriage are yet to conquer our minds, we are taught that women must compete against each other, more often then not stemming from the interests of impressing and ultimately “winning” the men.

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Thankfully, I’ve never been physically bullied, drowned or poisoned by anyone over the affections of a male. But I have experienced far too much hostility, whether first hand or merely as a witness. Whether we admit it or not, whether it be environmental or deep rooted somewhere in our cave woman instinct, there’s something in us as women, that sees danger in other women.

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Granted, there are some women out there – actually, no, there are some humans out there – that aren’t very nice at all. Some are even evil. But I’m talking about the victimising of women that haven’t actually done anything wrong.

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Such as, 1. Your ex boyfriends new girlfriend.

If you haven’t at least once stalked your ex boyfriends new girlfriend’s Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, either I need your secret to contentedness, or you’re lying. It’s human nature to be intrigued, of course. But what about when those subconscious questions come into play: is she an upgrade or a downgrade? If you aren’t over him – does she deserve him? If he was awful to you – why is he treating her better? I can’t remember ever hearing of a girl that has recently discovered her ex’s new girlfriend and has subsequently come away with a positive perception of her. You never hear her say, “Dan’s new girlfriend is so pretty, I hope they’re making each other very happy”, unless she’s being sarcastic, or untruthful. More often than not, what you do hear is, “Dan’s new girlfriend looks like such a slut/bitch/insert derogatory term”. The only reason explanation I can think of for this kind of analysis is that the friend in question feels threatened/insecure. But my guess is Dan’s new girlfriend is probably a nice girl and probably unknowing of the details of your past relationship with Dan. So she hasn’t done anything wrong and doesn’t deserve your hostility. Instead of attacking this girl, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself why you feel this way about her. Maybe there are some issues you need to address when it comes to your ex boyfriend or your relationship. And who knows – more likely than not, she’s also virtually stalking you, experiencing the same territorial emotions as you. Which brings me to case point two,

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2.Your current boyfriends ex girlfriend.

Again, we’ve all done it (can you see a pattern, yet?) – stumbled across a social network and somehow landed on the girl who loved your man before you came along. We feel the same range of emotions we do about the ex’s new girlfriend. The same wondering, the same comparison. Only this is worse, because you’re currently so loved up with your boyfriend that the thought of him loving someone else before you makes you want to scream/cry/be sick/maybe strangle her. All of which are reasonable, territorial emotions to go through (except maybe the strangling. Don’t do that). But look at it the same way as example 1: she had him before you, yes, but she doesn’t have him now. I doubt they still want each other, otherwise, wouldn’t they be together? There is absolutely no need to feel hatred towards her. If he is a good boyfriend to you, chances are that’s down to his experiences with her, so she’s done you a favour. And even if she treated him badly, affecting how he deals with things like trust, remember: there are always two sides to every story. I’m not saying be best friends with this girl, that may be a little weird (especially when you start trading stories about your boyfriend… Ew), but give her the benefit of the doubt, and stop breeding negative energy in your own being by hoarding negative feelings about her. The lesson in these two examples is be confident within yourself so that you don’t feel the need to put yourself up against someone that is not in the same race as you. Also, try not to lurk – you know you’ll only see thing that you don’t want to, so why torture yourself? Work on your own life instead of wondering about a strangers.

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3. The girl your boyfriend cheated on you with.

This is probably the trickiest situation for us girls to deal with. Being cheated on is an absolutely awful feeling (For those that have been lucky enough to escape it, imagine having a hand rip open your chest, pull out your beating heart and putting it in a blender: that doesn’t come close to the feeling of being cheated on.) Of course, naturally, our first natural instinct is to hate him, and hate the ‘other girl’, because we’re angry and hurt and upset, of course. But take a minute to think about it – it is completely and utterly, 100% your boyfriends responsibility and not the girl he chose to cheat on you with. She could have absolutely no idea that the guy inside her has a girlfriend. As far as she is concerned, he’s single and willing. She is not a ‘slut’ or a ‘whore’ – she is free to enjoy sex with whoever  she wants. This example changes considerably if the girl knows he has a girlfriend, or worse, knows you personally. That is what you’d call a bad friend. But I can’t help but feel that girls get a worse deal in these situations than the man. A girl I knew from school had been with her boyfriend for two years when we had sex with her best friend. She banished the friend, but easily forgave her boyfriend. Why inflict hatred on her, yet forgive your all knowing, entirely responsible partner?

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And finally,

4. The girl who has the man you want. Whether you like it or not, you can’t run away from the fact that the reason you dislike this girl is because you are jealous. The sooner you admit it, the sooner you can put to bed these negative emotions. There isn’t a lot you can do in this situation, apart from appreciate the fact that they like/love each other and let their relationship run it’s course. What’s meant to be will be, so if it’s supposed to be you that he chose, he may eventually do so. But don’t hate on his girlfriend while you wait for him to make up his mind.

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I would LOVE there to be a wider sense of sisterhood among women in our current time and place in history. We can understand each other while men cannot begin to even try. I can empathise with the examples above because I have experienced them in the past and know many girlfriends who have or continue to.

Instead of merely siding with friends against other girls, competing in this mindless invisible war, can’t we all be on the same team?

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