If you live in a giant overpriced city like I do, chances are you have a roommate — perhaps even many roommates (more than six and you’re either an actor or part of a cult). Sometimes they’re friends. Sometimes they’re family. Oftentimes, they’re just equally lost souls convening under one roof conjured through the creepy magic of Craigslist or Gypsy Housing. So long as they don’t kill you in your sleep or steal your leftover Chipotle, it can be smooth sailing…
Unless, of course, you were once MARRIED to one.
But so was the case of my current boyfriend when we first met 3 years ago. As I had come into his life, the ex-wife was on her way out. ‘On her way’ as in not out YET, but planning to be soon…
Yep. They still lived together. She was THAT girl — the ex who won’t let go.
You know who she is. You’ve probably even dated her once before…
I may not have good judgment, but I have even worse timing. And let me tell you from firsthand experience: Living with an ex is tough. But dating while you live with an ex — just wow. There’s really nothing can fully prepare you for the unique (and in my case, post-matrimonial) shitstorm you will encounter. But in hindsight, there are a few tidbits of advice I wish I would’ve known before starting a relationship with someone who still lives with their ex…
1. First Visits Will Be Awkward
Whoever made this meme deserves a Pulitzer.
I met my boyfriend the only romantic way left in NYC — on Match.com. After an instant connection and a great date full of Thai food, our drunken conversation led to the first honest wrench in our future plans: he admitted that he was still living with his ex wife. Money was an issue on her side and since he’s not a despicable turd, she was allotted the remainder of the month to figure out her living situation. She took the one bed while he slept on the couch.
If I’m being honest, I didn’t fully believe him. But in the name of science I spontaneously decided to go see for myself.
When I first arrived, I nearly tripped over The Ex’s clown-sized high-heeled shoes in the foyer (was he dating Bigfoot?!) From the lavender perfume I’d never wear to the closets full of questionable female ‘fashion’ (like…a LOT of sequins), I’ve never felt like more of an outsider — or a mistress.
I stood unconvinced in the bathroom, examining the assortment of concealers and eye creams. But nothing could hide the tell-tale imprint on the couch molded to my boyfriend’s body. It was a testament to not only his honesty, but the countless nights spent trying to make his “bed” situation work — which bring us to…
2. There WILL Be Cockblocking
This is also remarkably similar to my “hangry” face…
It was our third sexually tense dinner, and I was eager to see what his ex had given up. Ready to take the plunge into each other’s pants, my boyfriend informed The Ex — who was also out — that I would be coming home with him. This was a precautionary measure taken to avoid any sort of awkward collision between the two of us.
Shortly after he sent the warning text, The Ex suddenly decided it was the perfect time to pick up her computer from their place. Conveniently forgotten at 10 o’clock at night.
So we waited. Outside. Delegated to sitting on a nearby bus bench trying to keep the mood alive. A fresh jolt of fear struck me:
Is it going to be like this for a while?
Would The Ex always be lurking somewhere…ready to pounce on an opportunity to wedge her way into our lives?
Does he MAYBE still have a thing for her…? Is that why he was being so passive? Am I at the center of some enormous romantic ruse…?!?!
During our hour-long bus bench waiting session (yes, it took her a whole HOUR to ‘pick up her computer’), I admitted to the fear-driven thoughts that had just crossed (and were still lingering in) my mind. My boyfriend went on to tell me exactly why they broke up in the first place: She had cheated on him while they were married.
A newfound weight of responsibility hung in the air and on my shoulders. I would have to let go of my own baggage, insecurities and doubts… or else I would never be able to help him let go of his.
As a result, I would have to be patient and understanding while our sex life was relegated to conjugal visits for the time being. Pout.
3. When It Finally Happens…The Sex WIll Be Hot
Ya damn right it is.
When you live with someone (dating or not), they tend to get on your nerves sometimes. Now mix that in with years of history and resentment, as the case with Le Boyfriend, and it leads to none other than…
Hot. Nasty. Sex.
(with me of course. NOT HER.)
Our first time was in August. It was 95 degrees outside, and 100 degrees of horny inside. Nothing could stop our mutual desire to consummate our new relationship — except the only room with an A/C unit was the that one bedroom The Ex was sleeping in. We were left with no choice but to use “her” bed (which HE had paid for, anyway).
45 sweaty minutes later, we both “found” the catharsis we desperately needed. In that moment, we knew were were sexually compatible. This wasn’t just sex. This was looovemaking. I felt the kindlings of oxytocin coursing through my veins as we basked together in the afterglow. I knew we had stumbled onto something truly special.
As I used The Ex’s very fancy shampoo to wash the remnants of our shameful (aka awesome) act away, I thought of all those poor suckers out there…still swiping away with Tinder. That shampoo was honestly spectacular though.
4. You Will Sometimes Lose Your Mind
Don’t look her in the eyes though. I SAID DON’T LO— …man, I told you NOT to do it.
We didn’t know at the time, but The Ex had gotten grown a pair of ‘cold feet’ over the whole divorce thing. No one likes being alone, especially when they don’t like who they are.
After The Ex finally moved out, I naively believed we would never hear a peep from her foot face again. Unfortunately, that’s not how divorce works. It takes lots of signatures, timed out in oddly specific ways. Just like vaccines…
One night, they were meeting for dinner where she would be served JUSTICE as dessert (I know it was probably less dramatic, but a girl can hope).
I was pathetically waiting by my phone when my self esteem issues and overactive imagination converged to form the most ludicrous of scenarios:
Maybe she refused to sign? There’s so many movies that do that, such a dick move. Maybe they would suddenly fall in love again? Maybe they were boning ten minutes into dinner? Maybe he would realize he really liked women with faces shaped like a foot?
A vicious cycle of getting angry over something that had only happened in my mind bega.
That asshole. I’m gonna kill him…
The fact that we had argued that same day about our “Facebook statuses” (which sounds so, soo stupid now) didn’t make things any better. I was gunning to make it official on social media, while he was unsure because there were people who still didn’t know his ‘wife’ was actually an ex now.
I wanted validation. He wanted to keep prying eyes out. I glared at my phone’s screen — maybe he wasn’t serious. My family always told me, a man who wants to hide you means he’s really hiding someone else…
I was immaturely making the whole “thing” we had about ME, and my unjustified feelings. Here I am mulling over my abandonment issues, while he is trying to talk legal sense to an adult sized toddler. But that’s the reality of the situation: you’re going to have doubts.
There are going to be text message a taken out of context. There will be certain friends you might not get to meet for a long while. Even in a non-marital setting, it’s unlikely that a person you’ve dated or known for so long just disappears. So prepare to logically check yourself when you have moments of doubt. Pull yourself together, god dammit.
5. You Must Have Trust
Seems legit. You want some Skittles, or a Kit Kat…?
Fast forward to present day, and I’ve been granted with a new perspective. Getting to know my boyfriend as well as I have now, I can certainly understand why it was hard for The Ex to let him go.
I also understand just how deep her betrayal was, because he has not let me down once. As loyal as guard dog, I put him through every test imaginable to ensure he wasn’t going to fuck me over.
I also learned how to check myself. Managing your insecurities and trust issues isn’t easy — but this relationship taught me how to do it. I HAD to learn to get over these things. If I didn’t, they would’ve gotten in the way of something good.
Fact is we all have skeletons in our closet, and suitcases full of reasons why we aren’t dateable. But much like your own version of The Ex can’t touch you, why should the past?
As a fully matured (sometimes) and understanding adult, all three of us have some sort of an accord now. (Her recent change in sexual orientation, which now points in the direction of full-on lesbian, also helps too).
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