Since the release of Little Mix’s latest banger Shoutout To My Ex, there have been a slew of blog posts celebrating good riddance to a douchebag ex-boyfriend. Despite certain aspects of the song being problematic (funny how people suddenly realise upon breaking up that their ex-partner was terrible in bed), the song is an absolute tune with a fantastic message, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon.
I was a classic late bloomer. Throughout my teens, I was either invisible to men, or they’d get with me, but nothing ever came of it. Then, in my second year of university, I met Jack.
Jack worked alongside me at the student bar. I barely noticed him at first, but then began bumping into him on nights out, and discovered we actually got on. Then on night, we were talking, and out of nowhere the elusive spark suddenly appeared. After an evening of building sexual tension, we finally kissed. Just one problem. Jack had a girlfriend.
I expected nothing would come of it. But the following week, he told my best friend he really liked me, had been wanting to break up with his girlfriend for ages, and they were now on a break. I was stunned. Before, when people liked me it was always people I’d never consider. Anyone I actually liked was always ambivalent. But this time, someone I liked liked me.
Things with Jack moved slowly. We texted, kissed again, and we’d met at the student bar, but he had yet to find the balls to dump his girlfriend. But there was an undeniable chemistry. Whenever we were in the same room, sexual attraction sizzled through the air.
Until one day, he stopped talking to me. My friends told me he was probably just busy, and he really liked me. Then I found out he was now with Emily, another girl from our work, who, while we weren’t close, we were friendly.
Their relationship progressed quickly, and they insisted on posting coupley photos all over Facebook and being all over each other at work. I tried to move on from the heartbreak, but I kept thinking, what if? What if I’d been more forward? If we’d been properly seeing each other, would he still have gone for Emily?
Then, 6 months later, they broke up. I was shocked. I thought they were going to end up getting married and having kids.
I bumped into Jack at the SU a few days later. I’d usually try and avoid him on nights out, but I was a bit drunk so I thought I’d say hi.
“I was a complete dick to you, I’m so sorry.”
I was shocked. Before, he’d barely acknowledged me, let alone apologised. He told me that around the time we were seeing each other before, he’d found out his Mum had breast cancer, and Emily was there for him as a friend so they ended up getting together, but now they’d broken up he realised she was just a friend. We ended up talking most of the night, and that old spark reignited. When he offered to walk me home, I accepted against my better judgement. We kissed on the way home, he ended up at mine, and we spent the whole night cuddling and talking.
I tried to cool things off, but he wouldn’t leave me alone. He’d text me constantly, pleading with me to come out for dinner with him. Eventually I caved, and from then on things moved fast.
Being with Jack was like living a bit of someone else’s life. Before, it was the pretty, outgoing girls who had boyfriends, and I admired guys from afar while they got with my friends. But now, I was the one who had a boyfriend who adored me. He’d pay for everything, tell me he’d never felt this way about anyone else, we had a day set up for me to meet his parents, and he even bought me a dress that cost over £100. We had such a strong chemistry, that within weeks, it felt like we had been going out for 2 years.
But Emily hung around like a bad smell. Despite having initiated the break-up, her gigantic ego meant that she did not take well to being replaced. She told everyone who would listen about how I’m a slut, and how when they were together I’d tried to break them up by telling her he was cheating on her with me. I never even spoke to her when they were together.
Regardless, just short of a month later, we made things official, and finally, after 20 years of dating disasters, I had myself a real-life boyfriend. But shortly afterwards, something… shifted. One day, he took a few hours to respond to a text. Before, he’d plague me with texts. My female intuition knew something was up.
My friends thought I was mad. But I just knew the end was coming. He’d take a while to respond to texts. I had to initiate meetups. And sure enough, one night he invited me over. He told me he’d realised that Emily had been there for him as a friend when his mum was ill, so he’d been a dick to her by going out with me. And he now believed her lies about me trying to break them up. He was too spineless to outright say he wanted to end it, but after a night of arguments and tears, I inferred the relationship was over.
I headed back to my halls early the next morning, my eyes red raw from crying. I then spent the next day crying hysterically on and off. It felt like my heart had been physically ripped out.
Me and Jack remained civil at first, but less than two weeks after we broke up, he tried to get with someone else in front of me at the staff Christmas party. After the Christmas holidays, I found out he was seeing someone else. I fell into a deep depression for the rest of the year.
Life moved on. I went travelling, volunteered in Tanzania, and started fancying someone else. I started work, moved to London, climbed Kilimanjaro for charity, and volunteered with elephants in Thailand. I have no contact with Jack now, but the last I heard was that he got kicked out of university for failing the year.
Break-ups can be debilitating, but no matter how epic the heartbreak, you can move on. If you meet new people, by the law of averages you will find someone else who can eclipse your ex. But in the meantime, live your life, and be the best you you can be, be thankful for the lessons learned and use them to move forward.
So in the words of Little Mix, shoutout to my ex, you’re really quite the man. You made my heart break and that made me who I am. But this doesn’t just refer to exes. I could easily have written this post about the best friend who dropped me for a boy, the housemates who emotionally abused me for a year, or the terrible previous employers I’ve had. All the bad experiences and bad people eventually make you stronger. So here’s to my ex, hey look at me me now. I’m all the way up, I swear you’ll never bring me down.