So here’s the thing, I know what your ex-girlfriend looks like.
The big ex. The important one. The one that ripped your heart out and took a dump in the hole.
I had to know what she looked like, this mythical unfaithful unicorn that’s held up simultaneously as a standard and a cautionary tale. Because aside from the rampant infidelity, or mental disorders or long distance shenanigans she was the perfect girlfriend. That’s why you loved her so much.
That’s why when you mention you used to date someone who went to the same university as our Lyft driver I get faint pangs of IBS.
And that’s why I have to look her up. It’s not even a conscious decision so much as a compulsive act I leap to in an attempt to calm the growing, gnawing pit in my stomach.
Maybe you mentioned her name and middle name one night at a rooftop bar after too many Old Fashioneds made you forget it wasn’t polite conversation. Maybe you left your old high school prom photos on your Facebook out of some sense of nostalgia- and that’s totally fine. And it’s normal and it’s natural.
But it’s also normal and natural for me to want to see her. So one night some morbid curiosity will make me go through your “friends” for someone with the matching first and middle name or comb through your tagged photos. I’ll hunch over my laptop like some 90s-movie hacker, frantically typing and clicking as if I’m doing something far more significant than calculated googling. It’ll take five minutes, tops. And maybe she’ll be some creative type with Amanda Palmer hair and delicate features or she’ll be an actress with pretty brown ringlets and an endless collection of Free People dresses or, worst-case scenario, she’s a gorgeous Swedish music blogger with hair like wheat and enormous eyes. Either way I’ll feel terrible- part of me won’t know why but the part of me will know that it’s because no matter how it ended, she was someone that meant the world to you and I want to be that person now.
Here’s the thing: the idea of a “past” or “baggage” is not only a tired excuse for romantic shortcomings, it’s kind of impossible at this point. Some nameless, faceless person who broke your heart doesn’t exist anymore because, if you’re a person with a pulse and an internet connection, most of your major life milestones have been documented on an increasingly tangled web of social media.
And I kind of like it that way. Anyone can say anything about a former partner when that person isn’t around to defend themselves. Instead, there’s a culture of transparency and accountability- even if it is forced. You can’t lie or play the victim or, in most cases, have a secret fiance. It’s like a background check of sorts. It’s how I can go on dates with someone I met on Tinder without having to worry that he’s married or a murderer.
Plus I’m creepy, curious and have a high-speed internet connection. You don’t need to snoop to find that out… Seriously, don’t snoop, I know that sounds hypocritical but my blog is a garbage pile of Steven Yeun gifs, selfies and feminist rants.Image Credits: Phil Hearing