Editor’s note: This post is a little more personal than usual, in that I directly refer to my relationship instead of cloaking it with transparent hypotheticalisms. To prep you: I have pulled up my big-girl panties and begun to drop the B word instead of “this cute boy I know” or “the boy I like” which I have done for the past, oh I don’t know, four months. Perhaps you thought I was referring to a slew of different men because my life is that exciting. Nope. Hopefully, this will stop my mother from emailing me going “why don’t you just call him your boyfriend,” by which I know she means “why can’t you be normal? WILL I EVER GET GRANDCHILDREN?!?!?” I digress…
On the first day of 2012, I stopped at a crosswalk in NYC with my boyfriend (!!!!!), shielding the wind so he could light a cigarette (I’m a shameless enabler) when his ex girlfriend strolled by. She stopped and they made polite small talk—I had been good friends with my boy when they were dating, so I knew her. It was no big deal.
Regardless, I mentioned it to a friend later because, well it is sort of weird that in the entire city of New York, his ex would walk by the same corner we stood at, boroughs away from where either of them live. Immediately, my friend asked to see a photo of the ex. So after .2 seconds of Facebook creeping, I pulled up a photo from a few years back of my man and the ex, looking very handsome together indeed.
Immediately, my friend started attacking the girl, saying pretty awful and untrue things. “Actually, I think she is quite lovely…” I said, closing out the photo. I then went on to explain that my boyfriend and I have been friends for nearly a decade, and that I was very excited about his (now ex) girlfriend when they started dating. I thought she was pretty terrific and I was very happy for him. I remember having conversations with mutual friends about what a foxy couple they made and how they would have really deliciously caramel colored children who would also probably be incredibly talented and smart, because both of them are incredibly talented and smart. As I went on about this, my friend was looking at me like I was pulling a long strand of partially digested string out of my intestines (I once had to do this to my cat…).
It was then that I realized that I wasn’t supposed to stick up for this ex-girl. I was expected, according to the code of female HIS-EX-IS-A-SKANK ethics, to verbally slaughter her.
Why do women do this? There have been many times when I have felt the pressure to trash a woman I don’t know because a friend expects me to. “Look at my ex’s new girlfriend,” a friend will say, showing me a photo of a smiling blonde. There is tension in the air. The silence is stretching around me and I know in a moment it will be awkward. I know I am supposed to say something horrible about her. I want to support of my friend, who I know is feeling vulnerable and upset, but I don’t know this girl, and she looks lovely, and I don’t know what to say. “She is half-naked in January,” or “Her shirt is fugly” or “You’re better” is all I can muster. These are truths aimed in the right direction. Continue reading