Being an ex a few times myself in this life, when discovering his next relationship, I’d secretly wonder what she had that made her so appealing to him. And now I know the answer: what made her attractive was that she wasn’t me.
We might not be conscious of it, but that first run out of the broken relationship gates lands us in the lap of anything other, anything different. What’s most important? "That you’re not him." But the more we get to know the person, we might just realize that despite our best efforts, we picked a carbon copy. We realize we were attracted in the first place–not just because he was an introvert while your ex was an extra-extrovert–because on some other level, we seek out what’s familiar to us. While on the surface it seems we’ve chosen the opposite end of the spectrum, if we’re completely smitten, we also realize that we’re seeking to get those exact same needs met. The needs don’t change, just the players. And we chase tail: our own.
I’m going to alienate a good amount of people on this, as I’m totally going to say something about the Bravo TV show "Date My Ex," a spin-off, unscripted series focusing on one of the "broken" couples from "Housewives of Orange County." In Straight Up And Dirty, I wrote about men who wear scarves in warm weather, men who refer to a fountain as their "water feature," and, of course, the women who scurry back to them long after it’s over. Okay, so only the latter is true, with a focus on commentary about how when we look back and try things again, now in a different place in our lives, it’s still very much going backward.
Jo De La Rosa, the ex of the date my ex scenario, finally narrows the new playing field to two players: Lucas, the sweet vanilla guy whose superhero is most certainly Goofy, a believer in laughter, teeth bleach, and v-neck shirts; and Chris, a guy who sells himself (and apparently commodities) on the fact that his parents are still together and who knows how to play the anxiety card, threatening to walk away. Here’s the problem I have: I’ve been her, so many times, the girl who falls for the guy who can talk a good game. When you come to a point in your relationship where all you can do is talk about your relationship, even all the great stuff, I genuinely believe it’s over. You’re falling in love with an idea not a person. It’s when you just live, when you laugh, when you think, when you don’t need to be sold on all the things you want to hear that you two have actually got a chance. The rest is sales, fairy tales, and too much glitter eyeshadow.
Had I been a producer of "Date My Ex," I’d have somehow arranged to, in the final of episodes, have Jo meet one of Lucas’s and one of Chris’s ex-girlfriends, to get their opinions on what went wrong in their previous relationships. It’s only fair given that the whole show is based off Jo’s ex, Slade, letting go (a totally anti-climactic plot that the producers gave way too much airtime) and showing everyone how over it he is by setting her up with other men. All relationships, in the end, should come with autopsy reports. But would we believe, or sell ourselves, that with us it would be so much different, that with us, our new partner would never turn up as an old one?