She's got the ex factor, but don’t be too quick to judge

WHAT is it about our partners' exes that makes us feel so threatened?

For me personally, it's the thought I may be subject to comparison and found lacking.

It only takes a hint of blonde locks tumbling over a tanned shoulder in a badly cropped photograph for me to throw my hands in the air and concede defeat.

She's bound to be prettier than me. More fun. More successful no doubt.

And all this I manage to deduce from an online dating profile photo of a guy who may not even want to date me, never mind call himself my boyfriend.

It seems my attached friends have it just as bad. Worse even

I've known extreme cases who have been at once fixated with and in denial of "the ex". One was rendered paralysed (save for the furiously flaring nostrils) by the mere mention of her boyfriend's ex. But she also admitted to spending hours pouring over social media sites cyberstalking her "competition", hellbent on finding a flaw.

No doubt we're all guilty of it to some degree. By employing a very selective approach to the photographs and information on offer we can either satisfy ourselves we've got nothing to worry about, or we can thoroughly indulge our insecurities and create a laughing, hair-flicking demon who is out to get us (when she's not snapping selfies in the bathroom mirror).

I'm not sure it's really the ex we're scared of, but what she represents - the fact that the object of our affection was once happy before they were with us and therefore (gulp) could be happy again without us.

I'm not suggesting we should all be buddies with our partners' exes, just maybe refrain from scribbling out their eyes and drawing devil's horns on their heads. At least until it's deserved.

I can say this because I confronted my demon the day our paths had cause to cross.

Yes, there were raised eyebrows and much holding of breath all round as we came face to face across that most dangerous of battlegrounds - the pub table.

But to everyone's surprise (not least mine) tension quickly gave way to a friendly exchange of funny stories - and the revelation that she was no more a crazy, clingy harpy than I was a man-hungry harlot.

She was smart, funny and attractive - all the qualities I might dare to assume the man in question had seen in me too.

Here was someone who absolutely understood why I loved him and shared a unique insight into the difficulties that represented.

I felt silly for not realising in the first place that she and I would likely have things in common; that we might actually get along.

Yet it had taken the death of the man we had both loved for us to discover all this.

It had taken his funeral for one of us to extend the hand of friendship.

And I for one am glad she did.

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