Dater X: When Exes Intimidate

It’s been a month to the day since I met Andrew, my surprisingly charming OKCupid run-in who recognized me and introduced himself out at a bar. We’ve been hanging out pretty consistently over the last few weeks, going on dates every few days, and continuing to get to know each other. I can honestly say that the hesitations I had about his height when we first started seeing each other have subsided, and I’ve been able to tap into the real Andrew: his hopes, his dreams, his demons … and unfortunately, his ex-girlfriend.

Andrew and I were talking on the phone one night last week when his most recent ex casually came up in conversation. Without hesitation, I blurted out: “What happened between you two, by the way?” Upon realizing what I’d just asked him, I apologized for my bluntness and told him that I totally understood if he didn’t want to go into the story of his failed relationship. To my surprise, he wasn’t offended at all and gladly told me the tale of their fallout. In a nutshell, after several years of dating, Andrew and his ex moved in together and hit a rough patch when their dynamic completely changed. They went from a happily-in-love duo to bickering strangers in a matter of months. I’ve heard about couples who move in together and pretty quickly realize that they’re not as compatible as they thought, but I’ve never actually known anyone it’s happened to. Apparently, despite all of their efforts to work through their problems, they’d hit a point of no return. He ultimately ended things with her, leaving both of them understandably devastated. Apparently, he’d even set aside money for an engagement ring.

“But that’s the past, and I’m ready for the future now,” he told me. I was so grateful that Andrew felt comfortable enough to open up to me about his ex, and I recognized that my curiosity about it in the first place meant only one thing: I’m really starting to like this guy. But there was one problem…

During our little chat, Andrew happened to mention that his ex-girlfriend is a professional dancer, who not only teaches dance, but also works in the entertainment industry. (To be clear, I’m talking hip-hop — not stripping.) I can only appropriately describe my reaction to this news as FUCK. He continued to tell me that he’s completely over her, having taken all of the appropriate measures to remove her from his life since their split, but the whole time he was talking, I couldn’t help but picture some stunning music video dancer who can easily put her legs behind her head. I needed to see who I was dealing with here, but there was only one problem: I didn’t have her name.

Once he and I got off the phone, I texted a friend of mine who also happens to be a dancer, thinking maybe I’d get lucky and she would know who I was referring to based solely on context clues. “It could be a few women I know,” she responded. “Let me check something on Facebook real quick.” Within two minutes, she wrote back. “I know her. It’s this girl, Kelly*, who I’ve worked with a few times.” I asked what she’s like, secretly hoping my friend would reveal that the girl is an ugly, self-centered bitch on wheels. Thanks to Patrick Bateman and some of the dicks who’ve followed suit, I’ve developed raging insecurities about not living up to the standards of my boyfriends, in fear that it’ll force them into the arms of other women. While I’ve tackled that topic time and time again at therapy, I’ve come to terms with the fact that your past relationships shape who you are, and that my concerns make sense, based on my history. Those circumstances have made me into the person I am today, but I hold onto hope that these feelings will go away when I find the right person. At the very least, I hope my insecurities will subside a bit when I’ve found someone I can trust. My friend responded: “Kelly’s an absolute doll. You two would probably hit it off well actually. She’s very sweet, outgoing and gorgeous. Check her out on my Facebook.”

So I did. And then I regretted it. Kelly looks like motherfucking Cinderella with Kate Upton’s boobs and the long, limber legs of a Radio City Rockette. Just as my friend described, this woman appears to be smart, fun and she’s drop dead gorgeous with a gaggle of drop dead gorgeous friends. I felt my insecurities bubbling over and knew that it was only a matter of time before I had to come forward about my stalking and ask Andrew why he broke up with such a seemingly perfect specimen. I knew that if I wasn’t upfront and honest about my insecurities, and how seeing this girl only made them worse, I would eventually end up mentioning it when I was drunk or angry, and it would be 10 times worse. Besides, this is me. He can take it or leave it. The next day, Andrew came over and we were watching TV when we saw a commercial for a local dance academy. “This reminds me,” I said. “Apparently your dancer ex-girlfriend and I have a mutual friend.” Puzzled, he asked how I knew that. I confessed that I was talking to my girlfriend about him and that I mentioned she might know his ex, considering they’re in the same industry. “I saw a photo of her,” I told him. “She’s beautiful. And to be completely honest, I’ve been feeling kind of shitty since. I can’t screw you in a handstand or move my hips like Shakira, and I sure as hell don’t look like that in a bathing suit. Those are big shoes to fill.”

He looked at me and said, “Good. I’m glad you’re not her. I like you just the way you are. She’s the farthest thing from my mind, and she should be the farthest thing from yours. Our relationship didn’t work out for a reason, and I want you to know I’m completely over her. It got to the point where I never smiled with her, and that’s no way to live. So far with you, it’s effortless. And you have talents and beauty of your own … many which I have yet to explore. But I love getting to know you.”

Instead of dismissing me as crazy and running in the other direction, I got the reassurance I needed. Andrew wants me to be exactly who I am— love handles, jealousy and all— without worrying that I’m not good enough. I have no idea where things will go with him, but I love the fact that I can be honest. I’m sure I’ll continue to worry about living up to his expectations, but the fact that he and I can both be upfront without judgement is pretty great. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my handstands.

The Frisky Dating, Try Something New