Wednesday, 2 February 2011

In which I open the ex-box

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 Frรคulein 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.


nuttycow said...

I don't think you've got anything to worry about - he likes you for you, not for the people you used to go out with.

And yes, he's got to be made of stern stuff otherwise he's just not good enough for our Blonde.

Blonde said...

NC: It's whether he dislikes me for the previous people I'm more worried about! x

HC said...

'pologies for being soppy, but after marrying Mrs C, I kind of wished I'd met her earlier and not had to go through the furore of failed relationships (however impractical or unrealistic). They all kind of fade into grey now though so I guess its probably unimportant. You know, unless you're still doing the naughty.

Helen said...

The man I'm seeing at the moment (let's call him El Jefe) has no qualms about talking about exes. In fact, he was wittering away about his ex wife on the first date. I thought it would bother me but it actually really doesn't. We have also discussed my rather chequered dating past and he doesn't seem to have run for the hills. Yet. Also, my Dad is scary too. Might hold off on the whole 'meet the parents' thing for a while!

Gin Operated said...

Well, it won't surprise you to know that I *think* I know about most of The Architect's past dalliances, and I'm pretty sure he knows about all of mine. But I can't remember us ever having A Proper Conversation about it - it just came out as it was relevant.

It does mean I occasionally get a surprise - such as when I joked, a good six months into married life, "So is X the only one of your female friends from (time in life) you haven't kissed?" and just got a very guilty look in return. Priceless.

Lookyouinnit said...

I'm usually reticient to talk to new guys about my dating past (something that isn't helped by the fact that my friends DO, which makes for awkward moments when we're sitting at the pub having a nice civilised drink and one of them starts regaling New Fella with tales of when I woke up with a man in a set of bunkbeds in his parent's house after a night out, for example).

The 'conversation' with my now boyfriend was had whilst sinking a bottle of red about a week into our fledgling long term relationship, and after we'd got the whole gamut of past significant others out of the way, we celebrated by going and eating our weight in cheap tapas. He's been really open about not judging me on my past experiences (Thank Christ) and I don't mind him banging on about his exes every once in a while.

His family, on the other hand... I'm meeting them at a wedding in April. I'm terrified.

Blonde said...

HC: That's lovely. What with the 'fake hand / date' comment on a previous post, it's good to know there's some soppiness deep down.

Helen: Oof - ex chat on a first date is a deal-breaker for me these days; have had one too many disasters following it! I s'pose, though, it's different with an ex-wife - a topic probably better broached sooner than later. With you on the leaving the 'meeting the parents', though...

GinO: Heh - no, not too much of a surprise. Ahem. And I will never tire of that story - I can just see the boys' faces now!

Lookyouinnit: That sounds like fun. Friends who can be trusted to spill one's most embarrassing stories in public are gold dust. Ahem. (I know the feeling; it happened to me in a deli once, in front of the guy who worked there that I happened to have an enormous crush on. Mortified.) It sounds like the Now Boyfriend doesn't scare easy. We like those.

Vulpine said...

"I never did find out the Berthas he’d battled."

That is the best sentence I have read this week!

HC said...

Oh yes, I'm not all tosspot.

Helen said...

Yes, definitely best to get the ex-wife chat out of the way I feel. He was with her for 13 years, from the age of 17. Slightly terrifying!

Mike said...

First, and foremost, kudos for a really, really good headline. I loved it. A good headline is not easy to write. Everyone at the PR shop where I work knows to spend time on the headline and lead before giving me anything to review.

Secondly, perhaps this is an issue that fades as you age. I have zero problems hearing about those who were lucky enough to have FabCanadian in their life before we met. And I don't think she minds hearing about mine. Of course we are also a couple of years into our relationship. But I don't think it was a problem at any point.

Blonde said...

Vulpine: Welcome, and thank you. Glad you approve.

HC: Good to know.

Helen: Wow. But hey - which of us doesn't have a bit of baggage?!

Mike: Ta. (As aside: I always call 'em titles. Headlines are left for the journos and their subs to do. Maybe a US/UK thing?) Good to know that it wasn't an issue; I don't think it will be with TF (famous last words); he seems like a fairly tricky-to-scare type.

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