The Inevitable Stages You Go Through When Your Ex Gets Engaged
The Debrief: From nostalgia to despair, here are some of the stages you might just go through when you discover your ex is engaged. And not to you.
There I was one Saturday morning, satisfyingly hungover, flicking through my Instagram feed. In between pictures of last night’s ironic toilet posing, something caught my eye. Namely a pic of my ex, Ben*. Looking slightly older, although only marginally smarter, and with a girl on his arm. Showing off a ring. On her left hand.
I know tying the knot in your 20s isn’t that rare, even in today’s world – one in seven under-30s have uttered ‘I do’. But still, the idea of marriage seemed so far removed from my world of chaotic houseshares and semi-regular hookups. Discovering that someone I’d been so close to was that much further down the golden path of adulthood left me feeling rather stumped.
Up until then, I’d never been particularly fixated on walking down the aisle. I didn’t have a secret wedding Pinterest board, and I regularly scoffed at all the Don’t Tell the Bride contestants pegging their happiness on a pukey meringue and semi-useless bloke. But now I found myself peering critically at all my life choices, thinking ‘Am I doing this wrong?’ whilst a series of unfamiliar emotions began to ride over me. Here are the stages you go through when your ex gets engaged.
All of a sudden I felt an illogical yearning for our relationship. That annoying noise he made while eating and the way he left gross shaving hair in the sink were casually glossed over in my mind as I began wondering if, maybe, he could actually have been the one. ‘Did I miss my chance?’ I wondered. ‘Have I blown my ONE SINGLE SHOT at love?’ Conveniently forgetting that a lifetime of twice-weekly rows with a man I’d stopped fancying would make a pretty shitty fairytale.
The rose-tinted glasses were soon replaced by red mist, however, as I began to rage at the fact I’d found out over social media. ‘How dare he?’ I fumed, feeling like his failure to tell me at the same time as her dad was somehow one last betrayal. Because obviously I was, like, just as important. Even though we hadn’t spoken for a year.
It wasn’t long before the waterworks kicked in, and I found myself sobbing on the sofa while my housemates dutifully made cups of tea and practised their best sympathetic faces. All my feminist mantras such as ‘relationships are not key to life satisfaction’ crumbled as I found myself wailing ‘How has HE found eternal happiness before ME?’ Meanwhile, my housemates gently tried to remind me how much I used to moan about him and how happy I’d been with life just a minute ago.
There’s nothing like the fear of a lonely death to get you re-installing Tinder. With a sudden panic that I was never going to meet anyone I liked, ever ever again, I reached for my phone and engaged my index finger in some swiping. But alas, the endless gym selfies and badly-spelt bios did absolutely nothing to help. ‘Are these the only people left in the world?!’ I cried. ‘Does love even EXIST anymore??’
Some things are cliches because they’re true. ‘Time’s a healer’ being one of them. After some encouragement from my housemates and texts from my mum, I managed to remove myself from the sofa and go about my usual Saturday activites (read: eating, drinking, dancing). And the longer I spent having fun with my friends, the more I found myself thinking, ‘Who even needs a ring on it, anyway?’
Society’s insistence that we’re all matched up by 30 is so strong, even those of us who are otherwise happy with our lives can succumb to its effect. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessary, or even right, for all of us. And age as a marker is bullshit – we all go at our own pace.
In the end, I even managed to send Ben a congratulatory message and have a friendly chat. Although I don’t think I’ll be going to the wedding. That would just be weird.
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