I like hanging out with ex-girlfriends, and here’s why: because I don’t have to convince them of who I am, which is something I spend an inordinate amount of time doing. I also like seeing them 10 years later and thinking, “I know exactly why I dated her.” If we didn’t break up and made it to this point, I’d be A-OK.
This ex-girlfriend was a significant one. We lasted a few years, on-and-off, and in the end I broke her and then she broke me back (goddamn, this could be several exes…). Then a decade later we reconnected and are no longer scared of each other which means that we are inexplicably friends.
What I like is that I don’t have to explain who I am, she does it for me. “But you’re an introvert,” she told me, when I was talking about the social exhaustion I have in Toronto. “You can’t be around people every fucking day, you’re going to die.”
She knows the things that the general public wouldn’t believe, but any girl who dates me for more than a month would. I have a low sex-drive (don’t care for it), I don’t cheat on women (too much effort), I’d rather be drinking alone at home with a stack of magazines than … well, that would be my Plan A (people generally suck).
I like that.
We dated when I was in my mid-20s. I had money and friends and youth and energy. But when I dated her, I ditched all of that and most of the time it was just her and me in her condo, reading books and watching rented DVDs. We’d rarely go out, unless it was to the movie theatre down the street or the bookstore a walk away. Sometimes a bar, sometimes a concert – but we didn’t hang out in lounges or at clubs or even restaurants with things like waitresses (aside from a small Korean cantina around the corner from her condo). I remember that we did a lot of grocery shopping.
She also felt like my first adult relationship, the woman with a secure full-time job and a car and an apartment. She was responsible and intelligent and opinionated and so I tended to listen to her. She was my girlfriend but she was also someone of authority.
Anyway, so the point is that we did nothing extravagant in a time where extravagance was expected from us. We did all of these domestic, mundane activities – but they weren’t boring, they were exactly what we wanted to do. And it’s because of this relationship that I raised the bar for relationships since. Me and whomever I’d be dating would have to be good at this monotonous shit. We’d have to be so fucking good at it that we wouldn’t even label it monotonous shit. We’d have no idea.
It was the two of us versus the world. Nothing and no one else existed outside of our bubble of coupledom.
(I think this is why I take it excruciatingly hard when a girl I’m dating sides with someone else against me. Not in an argument or debate, but one of those scenarios where she’s showing off to impress someone at your cost – ugh, I can’t explain it. Girls who act “cool” tend to do this, to try to project to the world that she doesn’t like me as much as I like her. So I take this as a colossal act of betrayal, because we’re supposed to be on the same side versus the world, not me versus her-and-world, and it’s a dealbreaker and I turn mean.)
So I don’t think being in love with a woman is about your heart beating faster, but the complete opposite – the woman you love should make your heart beat slower. Her presence should drop your blood pressure, temper your resolve. You should look at her and feel comfort and familiarity, like you’re home. That’s what a woman should be: home.