What happens when you’re thinking of your ex when you’re laying in bed with someone else. Before dating again, make sure you’re over your ex. Plus, how to know if he’s over his ex. Told by a guy.

polaroid of couple with film camera

 We were playing Scrabble. Not all of my most torrid stories begin with board games, but a bottle of wine and seven suggestive vowels can often lead to surprising acts of concupiscence… Yes, surprising enough to send sweaty fingers to the dictionary to find out if there’s a word for what you just did to each other.

As we laid there in the afterglow, the scattered alphabet sticking to our skins, I slid my fingers into her hair and was startled to find it curly, big and entirely the wrong color. She looked up from my chest and asked me what was wrong and I cracked a smile and said everything was perfect. We broke up shortly thereafter.

She was tall and sweet, compassionate and a great cook, well read and well bred and with big green eyes. The problem was that when I slid my fingers through her hair, in that most-familiar post-coital gesture, I was expecting it to be short and brown, and her eyes the same malevolent Midwestern mud I’d been staring into for the last four years. The problem was, the girl in my arms was perfect and for the life of me I couldn’t remember a single thing we’d talked about, because the whole night I was thinking of someone shorter, more sardonic and a much worse speller.

I got out of the new relationship when I realized that — despite what my bartender told me, the best way to get over somebody is not necessarily to get into somebody else.

My ex was still on my mind. Much to my chagrin, she would be on my mind for the better part of a year. Any dating I did in the meantime would be fleeting, unfulfilling and unproductive. Eventually I gave up and resolved myself to singlehood until I stopped comparing each first date to a summer’s day in Chicago or that time we almost bought a very sleepy Weimaraner. I wasn’t ready.

I was just lonely and horny, like some disgruntled werewolf lurking in a cave behind a city full of bright lights, functional couples and uneventful full moons.

I’d be damned if I was going to drag anyone else back to my cave to suffer with me. But it’s not an uncommon affliction.

IT’S TIME TO SEE THE SIGNS…

the rules of dating when it comes to the ex

How to Tell if He’s Not Over His Ex (does also apply to girls, but not as officially):

First of all, if he’s jumping back into the dating world soon after nixing it with his last lady friend, it’s entirely likely that he’s doing it to satisfy that lupine lechery all us males succumb to. Men, in general, tend to run back into the dating world faster than their female counterparts. LoveAgain.com conducted a survey of 1,500 older adults and found that while 40 percent of women took a year off before dating again, 39 percent of men were dating one to three months after a breakup.

Lovepanky has a list of thirteen warning signs to look for when a man’s still smoldering over his old flame. Among them are constant asides about his ex, checking her social pages, hanging on to old gifts and photographs and getting bent out of shape when he hears she’s seeing someone new.

An even bigger warning sign is when your new beau outright hates his ex. The Stir makes an excellent distinction between healthy breakups and angry people:

“The fact is, a positive, happy person will see the good and the negative, [an] angry person never will. But it should set off alarm bells if you find yourself dating a  man or woman who hates his or her ex and is convinced that the breakup was 100 percent their ex’s fault. It’s almost never just one person’s fault. But then we are normal. We know that. Beware of the person who hates their ex. Someday they may hate you.”

Now, to play a little devil’s advocate, there are occasions when the relationship was never meant to be. People stay in them for lots of reasons: tax purposes, a lengthy lease, fear that the other will harm themselves and just plain complacency. They may have already moved on. And remember, sometimes talking is just talking.

Dating coach Evan Marc Katz reminds his readers that there’s nothing wrong with discussing past relationships, so long as our significant others aren’t dwelling on them.

 “[I]f I want my girlfriend to really understand me, she needs to hear my crazy stories. This is my history, this is my rocky path, this is my life…. But again, I’m not pining for them, putting them up on a pedestal, or talking to them four times a day. I’m sharing a very important part of my past, like talking about the way I was in high school, or my deceased father.”

I’m Okay, You’re Okay

Making peace with your past means recognizing both the good and the bad that came from previous relationships. One should never feel guilty for loving again, nor for loving the people we’ve loved before. Like it or not, the women I’ve shared my life with are an indelible part of my identity, and the lessons they’ve taught me about myself, about women and about compromise are ones that I carry over to my next romantic endeavors.

It’s important that you and your significant other talk about what came before so that you can better understand and respect each other’s choices. Otherwise we’re just howling at the moon.

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