There comes a point in any new dalliance where the topic of ex-partners raises its awkward head.
Although sometimes a little sticky, the conversation can shine a useful light into murky relationship histories and illuminate the way ahead. You might be able to glean pretty quickly whether there’s a pattern to the behaviour of your intended that’s frankly sub-par, and be able to scarper before the going gets tough (see: Speckled Lad. His favoured relationship-ending technique is simply to leave the country. The Lad flung a quick fling before moving to Germany where he currently resides, and I would be happy to bet the gin money on there being some sort of something with an attractive Fräulein before he takes off for War Zone in September).
My last dalliance, The Northerner, was loathe even to countenance the discussion. During a dinner of quite excellent monkfish and several bottles of red at Colony (a restaurant, by the way, which I wholeheartedly recommend), I had made a quip about his having a few crazy exes in the attic.
“Yup,” he’d said, taking a large mouthful of wine.
“Oh, that sounds intriguing…” I’d replied, wondering quite what his particular brand of crazy entailed.
“Hmm,” he said, making it quite clear that that was the end of the discussion. I never did find out the Berthas he’d battled.
In quite pronounced contradiction, the subject’s come up pretty quickly and openly with The Filmmaker, who’s been quite happy to talk about his previous dalliances. Thankfully, nothing I’ve heard (yet) strikes me as particularly alarming, so I think Colin is safe from being boiled alive for a while (not that you’d find a saucepan that’d hold him these days. The creature is huge).
I, on the other hand, have been slightly more reticent to let on just which skeletons are lurking in the cupboard.
There’s nothing dreadful in the grand scheme of things (says she, clutching feverishly at the hope that, said enough times, the statement might become true). There are just bits and pieces that might be slightly unnerving to hear from the lips of a new dalliance.
Exes who constituted the love of one’s life thus far, for instance. Or exes with fairly grand families whose ancestors changed the course of British history and can claim one of the country’s most impressive castles as the family seat. Or minor sleb exes whose Popbitch and press appearances don’t always make comfortable reading (of course, they don’t always make true reading either, which doesn’t help).
But, I suppose, the conversation is as good a way as any to determine the courage of a man and the strength of his stomach – if he runs away screaming at the first sign of something scary, then there’s probably no future in it anyway (The Father can be a touch terrifying). Which would make another ex to not confess to next time.