Nicola Mostyn on closets and pedestals

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I met up with my friend Lulu the other day.

“I’m seeing this new man who adores me,” Lulu said. “He takes me on expensive holidays. He strokes my hair. Sometimes, when we’re sitting there on the sofa, he’ll look at me as though I’m the most wonderful thing in the world. It’s fantastic!”

I gave her the hairy eyeball.

“Okay,” she relented. “It’s kind of annoying.”

Worse, she confided, last week she got a call from the ex. The one who wouldn’t hold her hand in public. The one who told people they were just friends even when they were having mindblowing sex. The one she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

“He says that he misses me and that we should get married, because he thinks I’ll be good for him,” she said with a familiar manic gleam in her eye. “Three months ago I dreamed about this every night. Now I don’t know what to do. My stomach is all topsy-turvy. I’ve broken out in a rash. I can’t look my new man in the eye. Why now?”

“Why now?” I replied, shaking my head. “When else?”

Lulu, I said, if you will refer to that imaginary dating handbook we received from the government aged 14, you’ll quickly identify your ex as The One Who Wants What They Can’t Have (TOWWWTCH), a creature bestowed with a sixth sense that allows them to discern the exact moment a previous partner is moving on with their life, whereupon they return with a flourish, having been struck like a thunderbolt, only harder, by the strength of their true feelings.

Difficult though it might be to resist a romantic phone proposal from this species, I warned, accept it at your peril. Such an ex’s feeling will appear completely genuine only until you make yourself available again, at which point they’ll remember a seven year conference in Dubai they can’t get out of.

But what to do about the new, overly-eager beau?

Alas, the government handbook is rather hazier on this matter.

He may seem like a Superkeen Desperado but her judgement might be off. After dating TOWWWTCH, it can come as quite a shock for a girl to realise that, in certain circles, returning calls, making eye contact and not thrusting one’s partner behind a yukka plant when one’s friends go by is deemed normal relationship behaviour.

Or, I tell her, he may be a Superkeen Desperado. If so, don’t hate him, since you were one yourself not so long ago. Did you not spend excessive amounts of money on your ex? Did you not feel the need to touch him constantly? Did you not gaze at him with eyes that were decidedly spaniel-like? Of course you did. (If you were pondering why this approach didn’t work, notice how it makes you want to stove your new man’s head in with a crock pot.)

Of course, no right thinking person wants to end up with either TOWWWTCH or a Superkeen Desperado, since both closets and pedestals are uncomfortable places to live.

Best to get rid of them both, I said. Then go and find someone who knows you’re not God’s gift to humankind, but wants to hang out with you anyway.

But maybe take care of that rash first.


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