The dating world is a messy and scary place. I often compare it to “Mean Girls.” There are several scenes from the 2004 cult classic where the main character, Cady, views the drama and mistreatment within the group of girls as similar to the ravaging amongst wild animals that she was familiar with in Africa.
While part of what makes “Mean Girls” so genius is how apt such a comparison is to high school girl politics in particular, I think it’s also applicable to understanding the dating world. Whether it be through friendship or romantic relationships, we are all ultimately looking for the same things: acceptance, companionship and love.
However, it can be easy to forget that everyone shares these goals when people are trying to make it work together. The confusion that stems from being unable to understand another person’s motivations amounts to one simple thing: that, in relationships, people tend to act really, really shitty.
I’m sure this doesn’t come to you as a revelation. Society has a long history of literature, plays, film and television that prove that people can be awful when they’re trying to be vulnerable. However, general awareness of the interpersonal battles once reserved for a much more intimate audience has been heightened in the digital age, thanks to an increased connectedness and a more centralized sense of humor — and Tinder.
The Instagram account Texts from Your Ex capitalizes on these shared experiences by giving its devotees exactly what they want: tales of unlimited textual ridiculousness between exes, documented via screenshot. The screenshots are often meme-y with, for example, one ex asking if they’re “still on the shit list,” to which the respondent sends the ancient Sean Bean, in his role as Boromir from “The Lord of the Rings,” meme saying, “one does not simply get off the shit list.”
They can also simply be random, such as with an ex text asking what the respondent is doing, to which the respondent says they’re not doing much, and the ex makes the respondent aware of $1 chicken sandwiches from Wendy’s, perhaps hoping that a tasty bargain would lure the respondent back into their grasp.
All the same, the posted screenshots are sometimes just sad, such as with an ex telling the respondent that they haven’t thought about sex with anyone else, but the respondent calls their bullshit because the ex is known to be in a relationship.
The Texts from Your Ex page has 2.5 million followers, and their most recent screenshot earned close to 29,000 likes. The popularity of the content is not only understandable, but also predictable — the posts are sassy, funny, and relatable, the latter word being one that has picked up so much traction in the age of the internet that it’s essentially what all meme creators and comedians try for to feel they’ve hit gold.
Even though I, too, find the Texts from Your Ex screenshots funny, I wonder how the people who were actually part of the conversations on exhibit feel about their post-relationship interactions, behind the curtain. Are sass and memes always the best route toward effectively dealing with someone who has reappeared in your life? I honestly don’t think so.
Personally, I like to approach exes with compassion and empathy, no matter how badly they’ve hurt me (and this as someone who’s been cheated on, ghosted and everything in between). Of course, diplomacy doesn’t mean you have to or even should be friends with them and, in fact, cutting an ex off is usually the best route. But when the 2 a.m. “u up?” text hits, it may be wiser to firmly and kindly shut them down for good than to send Sean Bean.