I’ve been questioning what the word “ex” means for me. Even in ostentatiously monogamous circles, I’ve heard of (and it seems to be accepted) that you can still have sex with an ex (even if it’s not considered a good idea). If sex is not the distinguishing, factor between partner and ex, then what is? Living together is not a prerequisite to calling someone a girlfriend/boyfriend/partner whereas spending romantic time together is not enough (they might be a lover or friend with benefits). Sex seems to be out as a distinguishing factor.

Marriage is more clear. I have yet to hear of divorcees not calling each other exes, but again, it doesn’t seem to stop other aspects of their previous relationship continuing, including living together, raising children together, having sex with each other and doing social or sporty activities together. Nevertheless, it’s not required to be married before calling each other exes after a “break up”.

So what exactly does a relationship mean? What does breaking up mean? What does “ex” mean? What if like the gray, sliding scale of sexuality, you can label yourself as something, but it’s not as clear or binary as people in general seem to think. It seems to me that the non-labelling tendency of relationship anarchists here is appealing in that relationships are interactions between people and exactly what form they take is not only totally unique to each relationship, but also fluid over time.

One Comment Add yours

  1. I think you’re right in comparing it to the sliding scale; I use the same word, “ex” to describe people I am no longer romantic with, but I’m friends with some, not friends with others, talk to some every day, talk to others less often, and some never. It’s a term that makes it easier for me to help other people understand who someone is/was to me, but not a term that I need to understand that myself.


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