Four Reasons Not To See Your Ex

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‘Four big things have happened to me. I started working at UCL. I had a long-term relationship.’

A pause.

‘Who was she?’ I say. ‘I mean, how did you meet?’

‘Oh… through friends. It ended – I ended it – before Christmas.’

‘Why… did you end it?’

‘It had been going on for two years and it was at that point where, if it wasn’t going to be forever, then…’

‘You had to end it.’

‘Yeah. It was a nice relationship but… I didn’t feel we were on the same wavelength and I need that.’


‘But it was very hard, ending it.’

‘It is very hard. It’s like a bereavement.’

‘It is.’

A pause.

‘What were the other two things?’

‘I bought a flat.’

‘And sold the other one?’

‘No. I’ve still got that.’

‘So another one.’

‘Yes. And I bought a yacht.’

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The Worst of Times

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CC Image courtesy of Juska Wendland on FlickrA couple of years ago, just after the car crash that was my 26th birthday party, my brother gave me some good advice.

Don’t invite someone you’re dating to a party because it will make it all about them.

When I drew up the guest list for my housewarming, Tom‘s name was conspicuously absent. Obviously. I’d said I didn’t just want something casual and he’d suggested ‘being friends’.

Colleagues featured heavily on the list. Then the usual round-up of friends, my brother, and men I’ve always had a vague crush on but nothing has ever happened with.

It was safe. The latter wouldn’t come; the former would treat it like after-work drinks.

Then Friday happened.

‘Can I invite Tom?’

Beatrice says no. I play the Friday card. Tom is the least of my worries.

I don’t see Tom everyday and feel a jolt in the pit of my stomach. I don’t don my headphones to drown out his voice when he comes over to talk to Ryan. I don’t look up mid-meeting, see him walk past, meet his eye, struck by the sadness of his expression, and spend all afternoon wondering what it means.

Tom doesn’t pass my desk on his way out…

‘Bye,’ I say, with a wave.

… and acknowledge my farewell but keep walking.

CC Image courtesy of Vickilgh's Pictures on Flickr

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At the end of the day


‘Who’s Tristan?’

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CC Image courtesy of GabboT on Flickr

I’ve read every credible-looking article I can find online about alcoholic blackouts, You Belong With Me is playing on a loop, and post three of 33 from the Tristan archive of my blog is before my eyes.

My phone flashes up with a message.


Unconventional greeting.

‘… how goes the love search 1 month on?’


Recent events had put Tom right out of my mind, which was lucky. His profile hadn’t changed since we’d parted company, and I’d already announced to Beatrice that this meant he’d met someone. She didn’t contradict me.


In the last few weeks there’d been… nothing really. Except for Friday. But Friday was different. Friday was about love, yes, but other things too: sadness, disappointment, shock.

‘Whaaaaat?!!’ Perky says, when I tell her what happened. ‘That’s BIG.’

‘A non-event,’ is how my mother describes it.

Rachel only frowns. ‘Who’s Tristan?’

CC Image courtesy of Veronique Debord on Flickr

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‘Which direction are you headed in?’anywhere

‘I need to find a Piccadilly line station.’

‘Leicester Square.’  I point up the road.  ‘I can get the Northern line from there.’


We walk on in silence.  I ask Joe about his plans for the week; he tells me.

We’re nearly at the station.  He half-turns to face me.

‘I had a really nice time this evening…’

‘Me too.’

I take his arm.  He hasn’t finished.

‘I did have a really nice time…’

He comes to a standstill.  I let go of his arm.



‘… I don’t think it’s going to – ’

‘Go anywhere.’

Wow.  I didn’t know people actually said things like that.

‘But I would really like to be friends.’


‘Cos I think you’re really cool.’

I might have made that line up; I was in a slight state of shock.

‘Well, thank you for telling me.’

‘I wanted to say it in person.  I didn’t want to tell you by text….’

No, because then I’d have never found out.

He repeats the offer of friendship.  I’m non-committal.  He finishes up,

‘… maybe not straightaway.’

‘Yeah… well… thanks….’ For what?  ‘…for being straight with me.’

So bloody polite.  My parents would be proud.

‘I do think a lot of you.’

I force a smile, and gesture vaguely in the direction from which we’ve come.

‘I’ll go from Charing Cross.’


I turn, still in a state of shock, and walk slowly in the direction of Trafalgar Square.  Some Waterloo.

CC Image courtesy of Robin Kearney on Flickr