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janbb's avatar

What do you mean when you use the term "Ex"?

Asked by janbb (54783points) November 5th, 2013

I have always understood the term “Ex” to refer to a former spouse. Now I see many people on here use it to refer to a former boyfriend and I find that very confusing. If you went out with a guy for three months, is he really an Ex or just someone you dated for a while? It makes answering questions difficult on here sometimes.

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23 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

When I think of my ex, I automatically think of my former wife. I don’t think of the men I’ve dated since then. Some of those relationships lasted many months or over a year, but I simply don’t think of them.

I understand that some people think of a person they dated as an ex. It’s their choice.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

Ex, in my head, is any long lasting relationship that ended. Ex-wife/husband refers explicitly to an ex-spouse. All of these are in the set of people you do not talk to any more.

Friend I dated once is the set of ex-es you are still on good terms with.

glacial's avatar

An ex is a former significant other. That it how the term is commonly used.

I don’t think it should to be limited to divorced people, nor do I think that the length of the relationship matters, but it must have been a relationship (i.e., someone one just dated doesn’t qualify as an ex).

gailcalled's avatar

I use ”‘ex” only to refer to my two husbands that were.

If I were referring to a long-term boyfriend, I might call him “y”.

glacial's avatar

@gailcalled I suppose XXY is preferable to XYY, at least.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t ever use the term myself. Sometimes I mention a “former boyfriend” or “old boyfriend.” To me the expression always used to mean a divorced spouse, and I’m in my first (and last) marriage.

I’ve had the impression that the younger the speaker, the more likely she or he is to use “ex” to refer to somebody they dated twice a few months ago, or maybe even just had a crush on last week (but it’s over now). It’s as if being able to talk cavalierly of an “ex” represented some sort of status, without a whiff of the social stigma it had at one time.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba That’s my take on it too.

Adagio's avatar

If I were to use the term ex I would definitely be referring to my ex-husband, I prefer to call him my daughter’s father though, guys I went out with when I was in my teens are former/old boyfriends and there has been 1 lover since my husband.

glacial's avatar

I’m not a “young” speaker by any means. But then, I haven’t been married, either.

It seems to me that people who have been married think that their exes are more “ex” than other people’s exes. ;)

Jeruba's avatar

@glacial, when it takes a protracted legal process and all kinds of social and familial upheaval instead of just a text message to make someone an “ex,” they are.

janbb's avatar

Oh yes – try going through six months of divorce meetings where you go through the same discussions week after week. Which is not to say that break-up of any long term relationship can’t be as painful.

Also, it just seems to me that that’s the way the term used to be used and now it is changing.

glacial's avatar

<shrug> I don’t go in for those kinds of comparisons. Who is to say that your breakup was worse than mine, just because there were lawyers and paper involved? And do divorced people with children look down on divorced people without, saying “Huh, you think yours is an ex?”

janbb's avatar

I don’t think you really read what I said. Read the whole statement.

glacial's avatar

@janbb Actually, I responded after reading @Jeruba‘s remark.

janbb's avatar

Aha. (Steps back.)

livelaughlove21's avatar

I use “ex” for ex-boyfriends/girlfriends as well as ex-husbands/wives. I don’t find it confusing at all – people don’t have to be married to be in a significant relationship. If two people are together for 20 years but not married and they split up, they’re certainly not just “two people that used to date.”

hearkat's avatar

I use it for someone I had a ‘significant’ romantic relationship with. The others are ‘guys I dated’.

anniereborn's avatar

I’m with @hearkat

Aometimes I specify Ex-husband or Ex-boyfriend.
I really consider only two men I dated as Ex-boyfriends as we were together for quite awhile and I felt strongly for them.
One of those was a four year relationship. We even talked marriage. I wish there was a term for “Ex-boyfriend who I almost married, but never got to the point of being engaged”.
Because he holds a lot more significance to me than the other one.

marinelife's avatar

I think it can mean either depending on context.

filmfann's avatar

Ex girlfriend. I have only had one wife, and she isn’t an ex.

hearkat's avatar

I want to add that the ‘significance’ of a romance for me isn’t about the time spent in it, but rather the amount of heart and soul I spent on it.

chinomoreno's avatar

Since I am not married and was only dating, for me an Ex is someone I was dating before. But if I was married, of course i would say that about my spouse.

Headhurts's avatar

Former relationship

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