Recently, I had lunch with a few of my single girlfriends on the oceanside deck of a fabulous
restaurant in Rocky Neck, a quaint little art community about a mile south of downtown Gloucester.
While we sipped banana daiquiris and feasted on coconut shrimp, they anxiously waited to hear
about my recent date with the handsome business analyst I met at my sister's swanky birthday
celebration. My friends were excited for me, thinking I may have finally met Mr. Right, but as I began
to reveal the details of my insufferable evening, we all couldn't help but laugh and wonder if any of
us would ever find the man of our dreams. As for my date with Mr. Right, well, it took a wrong turn
and I became Ms. Left-Out . . . out of the conversation, that is. In the space of two hours, my dream
date mentioned the name of his EX-girlfriend more times than the bible mentions God! Clearly, he
wasn't over her and his continual EX-altation began to have the same effect on me as EX-Lax.
In the crazy and awkward world of dating, I personally find that there are hundreds of different
situations that can sabotage a relationship and catapult it into the dead zone. Some men like to
wear dirty socks, some like to wax their nostrils, and some men like to name their light sabers, but
weird hang ups and bad habits aren't that major, and for the most part can be tolerated. When it
comes to relationship etiquette, however, there's one dating faux pas that sends me right over the
edge. Some call it rude and unacceptable, others distasteful and obnoxious; I call it "The EX-Factor."
There's absolutely nothing more annoying than dating someone who can't stop talking about
their EX. These are people who love to use first names and discuss specific details of their past
"Jen's phenomenal in the kitchen." So is Martha Stewart, but you didn't butter her buns in the
bedroom, so let's talk about her!
"Bob was such a handy man. He knew how to fix everything." "No, not everything, otherwise he
wouldn't be EX-tinct!"
"Karen loves that Scampi."
"Roger spoke four languages."
"Britney taught aerobics."
Okay, that's enough, you're EX-hausting me with your EX-cruciating conversation! Can we
please move on to another subject like ME for instance? News Flash . . . The reason they're
called EX's is because the relationship has been EX-ecuted! I don't want my date channeling the
Ghosts of Relationship Past when he's with me.
In fact, if you feel the need to bring up your EX more than a couple of times while you're on a date,
or in a new relationship, then you might need to assess your emotional status and quit dating for a
while. Try entertaining yourself with bird watching or stamp collecting, since you've already mastered
ghost hunting! In time, you'll become strong enough to date alone and leave your EX at home. It
doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that 1 + 1 = 2, but when you're dealing with the EX-Factor,
1 + 1 = 3 and not even the calculative powers of Carl Gauss can prove otherwise.
The world is full of potential partners for every single person with an open mind and a sense of
humor. As for me, I'm still looking for Mr. Right, and I'm guessing a few Mr. Wrong's are bound to
come along in the meantime. However, I do have a date with my best friend's tax accountant this
Saturday night. I really wasn't up for it, especially when I found out he's been stressed out over a
recent break-up. The good news . . . it was a company break-up, and although he's probably out of
a job, at least his EX won't be factoring into our date. The bad news . . . he's single, attractive, and
seems perfect. Oh well, I'm keeping a good attitude. After all, there isn't a date you can't EX-terminate.
Of course, I'm talking about the date . . . not the datee.
In conclusion, dating and relationships are based on the idea that two's company and three's a
crowd. So the next time you're having dinner with Mr. Wonderful or enjoying a quiet evening with the
person of your dreams and the EX starts to factor in, do yourself a favor and EX-cuse yourself from
the conversation. Your seemingly rude behavior will probably get you EX-punged from the date, but
don't worry because the road to romantic success lies in the path of an EX-cellent relationship, not in
the valley of dry bones.