Love & Sex

Five Stories: Hooking Up With My Ex

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Nerve readers share their stories of tender and not-so-tender reconciliation.

I met Ivy at a party where everyone was eating a lot of ecstasy and grinding to Hunky Dory. She was Filipino — barely five feet tall, with huge green eyes and a wide, knowing smile that remains burned into my memory. We'd been dancing, and tumbled onto a couch to make out during "Oh! You Pretty Things." This was our introduction.

Some relationships are more about the physical than anything else. This was definitely one of them. I liked Ivy, and she liked me, but we didn't care for each other's friends, and our interests only intersected in the broadest sense. Also, she "brokered" ecstasy (her word, not mine — she didn't deal, but she could connect you to a lot of people that did), which meant that our frequent and intense intimate moments were usually chemically-tinged. 

We got into a weird cycle where we would eat some E and then sleep together.

This got to be more of a problem when we broke up. I remember Ivy citing several reasons during the rambling initial conversation: I wasn't religious enough, I wasn't "interested" enough, and I didn't like Nip/Tuck. But I had to keep getting E from her — my friends didn't care how "awkward" things were, and the pills were great. She didn't really seem to care, but we got into a weird cycle where we would cordially settle the "business" end, eat some E, and then sleep together. I don't think this impacted either one of us emotionally, and we did stop interacting socially, so maybe it doesn't count as "getting back together," but this little arrangement went on for months before I decided I was doing too many drugs and needed a little distance.

We went out to dinner and I told her I needed a break from her, physically and pharmaceutically. She (rather clinically, I thought) told me that was a good idea for both of us but that she would miss having "such a fun roll buddy." Then she suggested we go back to her place, and pressed a pill into my hand as we got into the cab. She put on Hunky Dory as we pinballed around her apartment making out, before slipping under the sheets one last time. I still smile when I hear "Oh! You Pretty Things."

 Dustin

Submit to our next round-up: New Year's Hookups. Throw out the old and bring the new into bed, right? Yeah, we know you're thinking it. Send your greatest stories of New Year's romance in 300-500 words to submissions@nerve.com or click for more details.

When Erik asked me if we could host a Fourth of July "grilling party" at my place, I vacuumed the carpet, bought some extra paper towels, and agonized over the crust consistency of my triple-berry pie. He didn't mention it wasn't really that kind of party. An hour before the grill-off was set to start, Erik and his friends came over with a 100-foot extension cord, four cases of beer, a package of Nathan's hot dogs, and a large green bucket. "Gin bucket," he said as he moved my pie off the counter and poured a tub of pink lemonade mix into the plastic vat. Four hours later, there were fifty people on my roof singing happy birthday to America, and there was triple-berry pie all over the place.

When Erik buzzed my door later that afternoon, I was bent on proving that I could be just as damn laid back as he was.

I guess it was things like that party that made Erik so attractive. We'd been seeing each other since June. It was the middle of the summer, we were both students with nothing to do, and I was happy to bask in the glow of his likability and laid-back charm. As the sun came up, we fell asleep shoulder-to-shoulder on the fire escape, and I didn't think I could be happier.

July turned to August, and I found out that Erik was a more laid back than I'd thought. He was sleeping with one of his close female friends. "I didn't mean for you to find out," he said. I guess that was about as tender a sentiment as I could've expected. I told him I had nothing to say to him and watched Netflix movies alone in my apartment for three straight days, figuring I'd get over it with some time and Apocalypse Now: Redux. Then I got a call from Erik — I still had his grill, and he wanted to "drop by" to pick it up.

Despite my seventy-two hours of film therapy, I jumped at the opportunity to see Erik again. In some deep corner of my brain, I thought this could be my chance to show him up at his own carefree game. Wasn't I just as capable of being an anything-goes kind of lady? When Erik buzzed my door later that afternoon, I was bent on proving that I could be just as damn laid back as he was.

Two hours after I let Erik back into my apartment, he left with his grill, and I was back in my room with Netflix. Getting back together with an ex is a strange feeling. It sort of felt like nothing had happened at all. "Maybe I'll see you around sometime," he said, as he kissed me goodbye. "Yeah, I guess," I replied. I put on Platoon and didn't bother to turn the lights on as the sun went down.

— Dana

Submit to our next round-up: New Year's Hookups. Throw out the old and bring the new into bed, right? Yeah, we know you're thinking it. Send your greatest stories of New Year's romance in 300-500 words to submissions@nerve.com or click for more details.

Jesse was my first real boyfriend. I include the qualifier "real" because by the time I met Jesse during my first year in college, I had been around the block my fair share of times, mostly with boys who told me that we were "together" but failed to tell me how flexible that term was. For these and many other reasons, I was incredibly excited to be in college, fully convinced that male college students were completely unlike male high-school students.

And, in some ways, I was right. For one, male college students were incredibly gorgeous. The men I saw during my first days on campus were attractive in ways I had only described in my worst hormone-fueled poems. Everywhere I turned there was a new beautiful bearded man waiting to be engaged.

I can't be that girl, I thought. I can't take him back.

But then I turned and saw Jesse — Jesse with his shaggy blond hair tied into a knot at the nape of his neck, Jesse with his cheekbones that could grate cheese, Jesse who made me feel like I was seasick while on dry land — and all the other beautiful men faded away. In three days we were sleeping together. In one week we were calling each other pet names. In a month I was calling my older sister and excitedly babbling about how we were planning on living in South America for a few years after graduation and that I finally knew what love felt like and I simply couldn't survive without my man.

Then I walked in on Jesse and the redhead from his Political Science class having sex in his dormroom. If you have ever seen an episode of Cheaters, I don't have to go have to go into much detail about what happened next. There was screaming, there was crying, there were more than a few threats (I think I said "I will gut you like a fish"). Jesse kept sputtering apologies. At a certain point, he even looked like he was about to cry.

About five minutes and a few fistfuls of hair later, Jesse and I were over. I didn't know what to do with myself. I didn't know what to do without him. Stupidly, my first semester in college had centered entirely around him — his friends, the organizations he wanted to join, the places he wanted to eat, the parties he wanted to go to. At school, I existed only as Jesse's girlfriend. When I realized this, I was disgusted with myself. I decided at that moment that I would never let myself be sucked into another person so utterly ever again.

For the next year I stayed true to my word. I made my own friends. I joined the college's literary magazine and put my new hate-filled poems to good use. I rediscovered the pleasure of having full ownership of a bed. I was becoming "me" again a little bit more each day. And then, the inevitable happened — I saw Jesse. It would've been hard not to; he was sitting right outside of my door. With his head hung down in shame and his chest looking bangin' in my favorite shirt, he told me how much he missed me, how sorry he was that he hurt me, and how stupid he was, how fucking stupid he was, to have ever slept with that girl.

I can't be that girl, I thought. I can't take him back. I was preparing my best Rhett Butler-esque speech when Jesse raised his eyes to mine. He was crying. Crying. I had never had a man cry over me before — hell, I had only seen a man cry a handful of times. Suddenly, my resolve crumbled. I could be that girl. Hell, who was "that girl?" I could take him back. I wanted to.

Jesse and I got back together, and it was good. But "good" wasn't what I was looking for. Our first relationship had been passionate and all-consuming and crazy. I liked Jesse, sure, but I had left all my crazy in that dorm room. The second time we split up involved fewer dramatics and no threats of gutting. Despite our eventual breakup, I'm glad that I got back together with Jesse. At the very least, it taught me to make my own rules. I've never been that girl who worries about being "that girl" ever again.

— Chloe

Submit to our next round-up: New Year's Hookups. Throw out the old and bring the new into bed, right? Yeah, we know you're thinking it. Send your greatest stories of New Year's romance in 300-500 words to submissions@nerve.com or click for more details.

He was the first guy I fell for, my first real boyfriend. He was younger, but more worldly, and I felt like I'd been waiting my whole life for him to arrive. And then, after only a few months, he ended it and I fell in a heap. I was an inconsolable wreck for a long time, and even once I started pulling myself together, he was regularly on my mind. On my insistence, we stayed friends — this guy was too awesome not to have him somewhere in my life. Plus, we moved in the same circles; he even ended up working at the same place as me. I moved on, dated other guys, and had much longer-term relationships, but he was still the one I'd fallen for like no other. If I was having a rough time in a relationship, he was the person I'd fantasize about escaping with.

Of course I knew that I had built him up in my mind as bigger and better than he really was. How could you be so certain about someone after only a few months? He was just the first, and the first always hits you hardest. But even though I knew I was idealizing him, he always posed a mild threat to my mental stability.

If you're not male or you've never been rock-climbing, you may not realize just how revealing a climbing harness can be.

Then one day, five or so years later, we decided to go indoor rock-climbing. It was my first time — he was showing me the ropes, literally. Now, if you're not male or you've never been rock-climbing, you may not realize just how revealing a climbing harness can be. Everything is focused in on the crotch, which is somehow enhanced and thrust forward. (In my case, I was probably wearing it wrong too.)

He noticed and commented. One thing led to another. We went to take a shower afterwards and found out this place only had locked private bathrooms. As in one locked private bathroom. Which we shared. So I was showering with an ex who I still thought was hot as hell, who was sweaty, and who had been commenting on my equipment.

I tried to remain calm and dignified. It didn't work. There were blowjobs in the shower. We ditched our lunch plans and ended up back at his place. It was a one-off and we both knew it. But more than that, much more than that, it was the moment I knew I was over him. Yes, the sex was great, but the mental relief was even better. We're still friends, but he lives overseas now so we don't see each other much. I can't say it will never happen again, but I can say that it doesn't need to, and that's great too.

David

Submit to our next round-up: New Year's Hookups. Throw out the old and bring the new into bed, right? Yeah, we know you're thinking it. Send your greatest stories of New Year's romance in 300-500 words to submissions@nerve.com or click for more details.

Our long-distance relationship ended suddenly. Early in the morning she called me seemingly out of the blue. I'd known that she'd gone out for drink specials the night before, but I hadn't known that she'd spent the night going down on a stranger who'd brought her home.

I spent the last two weeks of school in a daze. There'd been very little indication that anything was wrong, even looking back on the time leading up to her infidelity. I'd been totally and completely in love with this girl.

I blocked her out of my life, and tried to return to some semblance of normalcy.

I blocked her out of my life, and tried to return to some semblance of normalcy. I buried my grief in the sheets of every woman I could sleep with, while smoking and drinking more than I had in a long time. Outwardly I was normal, and had started to be able to function again. But when I headed to a new school that fall — one she also attended — it all came rushing back. Driving past her apartment reminded me of our lazy days spent finishing a box of condoms in a weekend.

More importantly, I was still having nightmares. It'd been five months at this point, but I still woke up in a cold sweat after dreams of us being together. Ignoring her just wasn't working. I called her, and we got coffee. We caught up on each others lives, only lightly touching on what had happened.

She invited me to a wine night with her and her roommate later on that week. After a couple of glasses, our handholding turned into a makeout session in her shower. Throughout the rest of our sexual encounter she asked jealous questions about how many people I'd been with, and whispered things like "I missed this so much," and "there's been nobody as good as you." Even in the heat of the moment, I knew she was lying. When I woke up the next morning, I had a moment of clarity. I put my clothes on and left.

Afterward, I didn't answer any texts or Facebook messages. My ex had decided that a night of being fingered by a frat boy was more important than my family, my friends, and me. No matter how much nostalgia I had for aspects of our relationship, my slip-up wasn't worth it. I needed to keep the little self-respect I had left.

— Ryan

Submit to our next round-up: New Year's Hookups. Throw out the old and bring the new into bed, right? Yeah, we know you're thinking it. Send your greatest stories of New Year's romance in 300-500 words to submissions@nerve.com or click for more details.