‘You haven’t seen your ex for years… so why can’t you stop thinking about them? Maybe it’s – eek! – Obsessive ex syndrome…’
3 years ago…
Staring at my laptop for what felt like the millionth time, my heart – by now somewhere near my mouth – started to calm down. A bit. Logging in on your average Tuesday morning, I was in no way prepared for what came up on my Facebook feed. There, in-between the ‘likes’ and the obscure memes, was a picture that stopped me in my tracks. A photo of a man on a casual day out; a man I hadn’t seen or spoken to for over two years.
Yes, here I was, aged 19, feeling like a heartbroken teenager all over again. Jason was my first love – a man who, when I look back at the whole sorry affair, wasn’t even that great (I loved him; he didn’t love me back anymore, we tried to be friends – and it all went horribly wrong). But, as the first man to have a profound effect on me, 7 years ago, he still had an effect on me that day – hence the stomach-in-the-mouth feeling I got when I clicked on his couldn’t-be-happier date photos.
The thing is, I was happily in a relationship of two/three years. I was in no way looking for anything or anyone else. I was, to all intents and purposes, happy and normal… I just still found myself thinking about this first love business.
Apparently (thankfully!), I wasn’t alone. Obsessive Ex Syndrome is a newly recognised condition; a condition that can, at the low end of the spectrum, find you idly thinking about an ex – and, at the top end to, er, lead to stalking. While there’s no way I was anywhere near that kind of behaviour, I can see how, in the age of Twitter and Facebook, OES can take place a hell of a lot more easily – how that simple looking of someone’s page, fuelled by a couple of drinks, can so easily happen. I didn’t even hunt out these pictures; I merely had friends in common with Jason and voila – the photos popped up. Or does this just satiate our need to label everything in life we feel as a human race?
It wasn’t the first time Jason had had this effect on me; one year previously, on a random high street, that same face had caused me to hide in a shop when a whole host of feelings came bursting back to the surface. What was wrong with me? I was weeping like a pathetic teen in-front of a shop full of customers thinking, ‘this girl is clearly deranged…’
Luckily, when I discussed this with friends, I found that it wasn’t just me. Whether it was one friend, who does a spot of ex-googling at night, or another, who compares every new man she meets to her first love, it seems everyone has that one person who still lingers in their head from time to time for just that little bit too long. We’re all intelligent people but everyone admitted that there was an ex that, when faced with them, would wobble.
A wobble, though, can be forgiven. As we’re faced with ghosts from our past on a daily basis though the likes of Facebook, we find it only natural to find ourselves wondering ‘what if?’ more often than we used to. And, it seems no matter how old we are; there’ll always be one person who, when we bump into them, makes us feel 16 all over again. Just remember: deep breaths – and look for the nearest hidey hole.