What Would Your Exes Say About You?

"All my exes live in Texas." "Lucky you."

“All my exes live in Texas.” “Lucky you.”

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t overstate how much of an affinity I have for High Fidelity. While other movies may rank higher on my “all time favs” list, I doubt any of them have been as influential.

To wit…

1. It remains the only movie I’ve forced every. single. woman. I’ve been even somewhat serious with to watch. The Wire doesn’t even get that treatment from me, and if The Wire was a woman, I’d (happily) hold its purse in public, go rock climbing with it, and drink its bathwater after we finished said rock climbing.

2. It’s at least 27% responsible for me creating lists out of everything—I swear Buzzfeed just straight up jacked VSB’s 2008-2010 steez—and maybe 53.7% responsible for me creating arbitrarily exact percentages when making a point.

3. It’s also 13.8% responsible for my steadfast belief that the music, movies, books, and TV shows a person likes—and why they like it—matters. It’s not the only thing that matters. But it’s definitely one of the only things.

4. I’ve included Lisa Bonet before when people have asked me to name actresses I thought were very attractive. This is a lie. I’ve never really been attracted to Lisa Bonet. But, I am totally, completely, head over heels in love with “Marie De Salle.” This also matters.

Still, while all the other tidbits about it make it cool, what makes High Fidelity High Fidelity—basically, what makes High Fidelity good—is the concept behind it.

What would happen if you had an opportunity to speak with each of your exes?

How would it go? Would you be cool? Cordial? Antagonistic? Would you still be attracted to them? Would you be surprised that you were actually attracted to them at one point? Would you be upset if they weren’t attracted to you anymore? If single (or not), would you try to sleep with them? Would you recognize them? Would they recognize you? 

Whether you have two exes or 32, I’m sure you can think of dozens of questions you’d ask them, and High Fidelity gives us an opportunity to vicariously do something everyone has thought of but few of us have actually done.

But, while this is a thought we’ve all had at some point, it only tells half the story. And, it only tells half the story because it’s a self-centered thought. Of course we fantasize about having that type of conversation with some of our exes, because that conversation would be safe. Sure, they probably wouldn’t feel the same pressure to be “nice” that people in relationships with each other often adopt when sharing feelings so they won’t hurt each other’s feelings, but they probably won’t be exactly forthright either.

If you really want to go there, there’s only one question that needs answered:

What would your exes say about you…when they’re not talking directly to you?

I’m sure every one reading this has at least a couple stories about “the batshit chick” you dated or “that stalker-ass n*gga” who still randomly shows up to your family reunions or even the “emotionally insecure idiot” with “daddy and mommy issues” who you swear is going to ruin the next person they date. 

But, when that person you dated from 2003 to 2007 is talking about you to their friends, are you the batshit chick? When they happen to come across your Facebook profile, do they shudder, cross themselves, and thank God they were smart enough to delete your number? Do they take it upon themselves to warn other people about you? Do you think they think of you as “the one who got away” when you’re really “the one who’s the reason why I caught the gout”?

Interestingly enough, as “self-aware” as I say I attempt to be, I have absolutely no interest (NONE!!!) in knowing what a couple of my exes would say about me. Not all, but a couple. I can only imagine that, if I heard the inner thoughts of one ex in particular, my memory of a “considerate, witty, but slightly immature” 27 year old me would be, um, contrasted with “f*ck that big head, big toothed, limped d*ck, analog-ass n*gga. F*ck him as a staff, a record label, and as a motherf*cking crew.”

And, I’d (probably) deserve it.

Anyway, people of VSB, I’m curious. What would your exes say about you? Do you even want to know, or would you prefer to stand beside me with your head in the sand?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Non-Motherf***ing Ex Factor?

Confusion? Exactly.

One of the most common dating conversations that occurs revolves around whether or not men and women can ever truly be friends. While the answer to that is clearly debatable and largely depends on whether or not you believe in the butterfly effect (what?), the pendulum swings way harder towards “hell no” once you include the modifier, “friends with an ex.”

Apparently the likelihood of remaining friends with an ex is slim to none. Not to say that it can’t happen. I am good friends with an ex of mine and that relationship is purely platonic. I also know other people who have remained friends (platonically) with exes. It’s just not the norm and even my relationship with my ex took some time to get to that “we’re okay point” and I’m fairly certain that she lead the way there. We had a pretty horrendous breakup and both of us had to grow as people in order for us to get to the point we are now, but her reaching out and extending the olive branch that I would have likely been too afraid to extend myself cemented that friendship.

All of this came up at the recent Washington Post panel that was hosted by Rahiel Tesfamariam of Urban Cusp and I. We delved into a discussion about friendships with exes and I posited that most breakups didn’t end amicably and if a woman was maintaining a frienship with her ex soon after it was because she wanted the relationship to pick back up. If a dude was, it’s because he was still trying to hit.

What’s odd to me is that if you asked most people why it’s not likely to be friends with an ex, you rarely get good reasons. It always comes down to, “you just can’t” or some variation of that. People in relationships, both romantic and non-romantic, go through all types of non-sense. Hell, much of it is similar to the types of relationship ups and downs you go through. Granted, in a relationship you’re putting your whole heart on the line so the pain of disappointment is worse, but quite obviously, the great destroyer of future friendship is sex. Apparently, “sex changes everything.”

Hi. My name is Panama Jackson and I’m Captain Obvious.

But here’s the kicker…why does sex change everything? Yes, I realize that once you cross that threshold with somebody there’s no going back. And the only way you can maintain the pre-smang status quo is if you have two people who are ’bout that life who either have too much pride to be affected or are too new to the smang game to realize that they’re supposed to catch feelings.

So while beef and longterm personal disappointment can cause a relationship to crash and burn I don’t feel like that’s something that can’t be worked out and/or talked about at some point (not necessarily right away), but why does the addition of sex change all the stakes? Why is it that two people who have seen one another naked have such trouble overcoming the friendship hurdle post-breakup? And hell, would two people who hadn’t smanged be able to maintain a friendship? These things keep me up at night.

Of course, I do realize that some people just don’t like the person that they’ve ended the relationship with – which is likely the cause of the breakup. Some people can’t be friends for this reason, and others because crossing that romantic threshold either means that they have to get married or not speak to each other ever again. In my own personal dating history, I’m still really good friends with two exes (though I only actively keep up with one) and I have a few that I haven’t spoken to since we broke up for various reasons: personal safety (seriously), irreconcilable differences, mutual disdain, etc. But short of disdain, growth and maturity should make anything overcomeable (MLK did not die for me to butcher his rally cry….oh well), yet, I realize that at the end of the day, the likelihood of being friends with most exes just isn’t in the cards. (There’s also the more simple “I just don’t want to” reason which could probably take care of the entire argument as well).

So here’s my question: is it possible to be REAL friends with an ex? If so, how did you make that happen? If not, is it because sex changes everything…and why does sex change everything any way? VSB…what say you?

Talk to me.


Principle Schminciple: The stupidity of the “You dated my friend, so you’re off-limits forever” argument

Even he just made a better decision than the “principled” people usually do.

While in a Giant Eagle check-out aisle last weekend, a noticed a picture of Scarlett Johansson—who, along with Natalie Portman, mans the backcourt on “The Champ’s Favorite Non-Black Actresses All-Star Team“—on the front of a tabloid, below a title that said something like “Scarlett Scorned” or “Johansson Jolted.” (I can’t remember which.)

Concerned with the health of my starting shooting guard, I picked up the magazine and read that Johansson, who divorced Ryan Reynolds—an actor best known for saying quite possibly the best movie insult of all-time—a month ago, was deeply upset that Reynolds was now dating Sandra Bullock. (The rumor is that Reynolds and Bullock became, um, “close” on the set of “The Proposal“)

Thing is, apparently the fact that Reynolds moved on so quickly didn’t upset Johansson as much as the fact that Johansson and Bullock were actually pretty good friends beforehand; a fact that’ll surely make at least 81% of the women reading this say “The nerve of that treacherous bitch!!!

My thoughts about the situation? Well, for one I think this (“Reynolds moving on so quickly didn’t upset Johansson as much as the fact that Johansson and Bullock were pretty good friends beforehand”) is bullsh*t. Whenever someone says they’re upset because of who their recent ex is dating and not because they’re dating at all, they’re f*cking lying. Granted, there are people who don’t care about when their exes start dating again and who they actually date when they do, and these people don’t care because they really don’t care.

People who care, on the other hand, care about everything. Reynolds could have hooked up with Gina Neely or the robot chick from “Weird Science,” and Johansson would still be f*cked up over it. There’s no real gray area when it comes to this. Either you care about everything, or you don’t care about anything.

More importantly—once you dismiss the fact that Reynolds probably went against his vows and Bullock definitely didn’t let a suitable grace period pass after the divorce (She waited three weeks before the ink dried on the divorce papers to start publicly dating Reynolds. Three weeks??? Sh*t, I waited longer than three weeks to start watching a new show after “The Wire” ended)—this case is just other example of the stupidity behind the closely-related You’re my friend, so you can’t date my ex and You dated my friend, so you’re off-limits” arguments; “principled” stances with horsesh*t foundations that are nothing but egregious examples of self-defeatism and cock-blockery.

And, while a part of me can see why a person might not want their ex to date anyone the person is cool with (Although, after a period of time, all bets all off.), eliminating people you could be interested in just because they may have been involved with someone you’re cool with is especially stupid.

Now, I understand that there might be some circumstances where dating a person a friend used to date might be too taboo to consider. Obviously, if they just broke up on Tuesday, it’s probably not the best idea to send your man a “Yo, you mind if I hook-up with Kim this weekend? Her ass was looking real fat at you all’s engagement party” message Wednesday. Also, if your friend was cruelly played and dismissed by their ex, not only should the ex be off-limits, you’re expected to provide the bleach when you friend wants to dispose of the exes body. Lastly, you should probably stay away from the ex of your ace boon coon.

Still, most ex situations aren’t that drastic, and here are three reasons why it’s a bad idea to always stay true to the “You dated my friend, so you’re off limits forever” principle.

1. Not only does it reduce your dating pool, it disqualifies a pool of people you might actually be compatible with

I’m sure everyone reading this either knows a couple people or who’ve refused to date “someone” just because they’re cool with a person that “someone” used to date, or actually is the person who’s disqualified “someone” for that reason; a state of mind/”principled” solo circle jerk that produces a never-ending game of six degrees of self-sabotage.

It’s especially faulty when you realize that if you and your friends share commonalities, there’s a chance that you might have access to/be attracted to the same general group of people; people who probably also share certain traits with you. Basically, you’re eliminating the people in your sphere of influence that you’re probably most compatible with.

To make an analogy, making a person off-limits because they might have dated your friend is like needing a tailored cut pants suit and refusing to shop at the Banana Republic because your friend frequently shops there…even though you and the friend are the exact same height and weight and have the exact same personal style and shopping budget. Sure, you can cop a pants suit anywhere, but wouldn’t it make perfect sense to at least consider shopping at the same spot your homegirl copped her suits from, especially since you already know they carry your size?

But no, your girl–who you’re not even all that close to—called dips on Banana Republic, so now your principled ass has to find a way to put together a work outfit at Rainbow, and hope that your Rainbow pants suit doesn’t split down the ass during your budget meeting presentation next week.

2. It’s a subtle dig on the quality of your friends

While most argue that the “I won’t date anyone my homie used to date” argument stems from a respect you have for your friend and your friendship, couldn’t you also infer that this argument stems from “Eh. If he found her trifin-ass, Rainbow pants suit wearing-ass attractive enough to date, I definitely want no parts of him“?

3. Every single argument a person can make about why it’s wrong to date someone a friend may have dated can be easily shot down

“I don’t do sloppy seconds.” (Well, unless you plan on dating virgins for the rest of your life, everyone you meet between now and the day you die will be a sloppy second. Or third. Or 221st. Deal with it.)

“I don’t need for a friend of mine to know exactly what my man looks like naked.” (Oh, please. Aren’t you the same person who sat at the Sunday brunch table while you and your girls made your girl fess up about her new man’s, um, “measurements?” Now that this new man happens to be someone you might be interested in dating, you’re getting all meek and principled and sh*t? GTFOH!!!)

“I would date her, but it seems kind of desperate.” (Hmm. The $50 worth of porn site subscriptions on your monthly bank balance seems desperate. The 90 minutes you spend each day searching for old girlfriends and crushes on Facebook seems desperate. The Dodge Challenger your “can’t drive a stick” ass just bought seems desperate. Finding and dating someone who you might actually like? Doesn’t seem too desperate to me.)

“It might jeapordize my friendship.” (If a friendship is so flimsy that the possibility of dating the same person four years apart has the potential to end it, it’s not really a friendship worth having.)

Anyway, people of VSB, I’m curious: How do you feel about the whole “dating the ex of a friend” situation? Do you think exes of friends should forever be off-limits, or are you like me in that you’re smart enough to realize the “You dated my friend, so you’re off-limits forever” principle isn’t a principle worth following?

The carpet is yours.

—The Champ