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Is dating your ex a bad idea?

Elijah reached for my hand across the table. I looked down at his long, black fingers and my eyes gazed from his fingertips, up to his face. His smile looked permanent and I could see him romanticizing me. I matched his excitement, smiling, battling the tumble of the butterflies in my stomach, I reached for his fingers and played with his pointer and middle. He hooked them around mine. This was our first date. But, we dated before — five years ago.

Back then, we were both 24, going on 25 and neither of us wanted commitment. It was just sex. Great sex, that kept us in a lukewarm love affair filled with Popeyes chicken and ass slaps. Me and Elijah argued all the time and made up with humping. It was exhausting for the both of us, so we broke it off in one final argument.

Five years later, I’m on my couch after a terrible first date, on OkCupid, checking my messages for handsome strangers who could replace the guy I vowed to never see again and there’s a message from a handsome dark chocolate man with a milky smile. His screen name brags that he’s 6’4″. Yum. I click the message. Compliment, I’m beautiful, more compliments. Then another message from him telling me that he’s going to get the ring for me right now. And another message asking me if I ever lived in Harlem.

I tapped through his photos and recognized him immediately. I responded to him, “Elijah?”

He wrote back immediately, “OMG, I thought that was you Dani! I meant everything I said though. You’re definitely wifey material and I shouldn’t have let you go. Can we go out?”

I smiled, feeling heat rush from my face to my vagina. Memories of legs shaking, grunts and breaking my bed flooded my mind. “We can,” I responded.

We exchanged numbers and set up a second first date. “I want to do something special for you,” Elijah said.

I was curious when the cab took us through the depths of Brooklyn. We stopped in the front of a building that looked abandoned. I shot him a look. He laughed and opened the door. He got out and reached for my hand, “Come on.”

We walked in and I was confused. It looked like a kid’s birthday party exploded. There were motorized disco balls spraying colorful lights all over the walls, paintings of Spiderman, Tinkerbell and Spongebob were displayed in a corner and a teeny bopper song was playing from the speakers.

“What…” I started to ask Elijah, but a woman walked in from the back. “Hi! I’m Angie. Welcome to the paint party. Well, in your case, the private sip and paint party!” She reached her hand out and shook Elijah’s hand, then mine.

Elijah had reserved an entire painting studio for us that evening to paint together while sipping wine. It was miles above the Elijah I knew five years ago, who’s idea of romantic was letting me eat the last biscuit from our chicken dinner.

We giggled, painted, debated who’s artwork was closer to the instructor’s painting, drank wine and flirted. By the end of the class, we had matching paintings (of course mine was better) and an empty bottle of wine. “Hungry?” Elijah asked, eyeballing me like I was what he craved for dinner.

“Yeah,” I smiled at him, ready to scream, “This is the best night of my life! I think you might be the one!” But I didn’t. I just let his hand wrap around mine and followed his lead down the street.

We hopped in a cab to a restaurant, tucked away in the tree-lined streets of picturesque Fort Greene in Brooklyn. The ambiance felt like it was created specifically for us. It was dark with enough candles throughout the restaurant to cast a royal 1800s glow and the music was the schizophrenic sound of jazz whispered into the air.

And there we were, across the table from one another, with Elijah reaching for my hand. Romance was in his eyes and I felt it too. Five years had gone by. This was more than enough time for the both of us to sow our wild oats and to want something real this time, which we both did.

When I first met Elijah five years ago, I remember writing in my journal that this could certainly be the start of something beautiful. It wasn’t. But because I suck at moving on and am always ready to welcome the past (within reason) back into my present, I was definitely toying with the idea that Elijah was the one.

And five years later, sitting at a table on our second first date, Elijah looked at me and said, “I really want this with you. I want us to work this time. I want us.”

That night, he saw me home in a taxi, kissed me on the lips, forcing the weight of his body into me and he said, “I can’t wait to see you again.”

It was perfect. Everything in my body throbbed. I wanted him. I wanted us too. The next morning, I woke up to a sweet text from him saying he had a fantastic time and hopes that he can see me again. The Elijah I remembered from five years ago had matured into a man who didn’t have to mention sex every five minutes, a man who wanted to take me out, a man who was thoughtful. I could get used to this.

Around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, my phone lit up with Elijah’s name. He sent me a text. Smiling, I opened up the message. I was met with the crude and disgusting Elijah I met five years ago. The message was a meme. The only text on it was, “Mood.” The photo was a naked woman laying on the bed, looking defeated and a naked man standing over her with his erect penis pointing directly at her.

Disappointed was an understatement. I like sex. I think it’s wonderful and I definitely wanted to have sex with Elijah. The way he sat that first date up? Yes sir! However, the meme was too much, too fast. Sure, we’d had sex before, but that was five years ago. Here I was thinking that we were building something more than sex. The meme threw me off. “Why?” I asked.

“F-cking forget it,” Elijah texted back. My heart sank. I felt like I needed him to hear me. So I called him.

The back and forth yelling match went on for 15 minutes before Elijah said, “Danielle. I don’t need this,” and hung up on me.

I called him back three times. No answer. I was embarrassed. I was hurt. I was confused. I stopped seeing Elijah five years ago because he was rude and always wanted to argue. I thought maturity changed that about him and when he blew up on me because I wanted to know why he’d send me a meme far more explicit than our renewed relationship allowed, I knew that that’s just who Elijah was.

But I’m the girl who leaves the door open, just in case. Elijah’s come back once, he’ll come back again. Why would you even want that? You might be asking. Because I’m a fool for love. I know that’s not enough, but other than that, I got nothing. At least I admit that I’m a fool of some sort.

Elijah did come back. And we had a heart-to-heart talk. We magically found common ground and like clockwork, lost our footing the next day. Another fight ignited and this time, we were arguing over what the other cared about more than the other. Seriously? You’re asking that and rolling your eyes. Yes, seriously. I’m a fool…for love. And one day, I’ll figure it out.

But until then, I’m back to the drawing board.


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