Relationships are dramatic.
Or at least, I thought every relationship had to be a theme park of the wildest rides — the highest highs, the lowest lows, the head-jerking twists and turns around the darkest corners after plunging into the unknown.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that relationships aren’t supposed to be like that. While conflict is both healthy and normal in any relationship — whether it’s a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a relationship with a family member — you shouldn’t feel anxious about your connection to someone, no matter what role they play in your life.
Of course I know that now, but 2019 Olivia didn’t.
That said, let’s backtrack to January 2019, when I was cruising Tinder on the first Monday of the new year, hoping for Mr. Right to magically pop up on my screen. After what seemed like a hundred left swipes, I finally stumbled across my ex’s profile.
He was a tall, super-cute comedian with a dark sense of humor who lived about ten miles away. In Los Angeles, anything more than a ten mile drive is considered long distance, so I thought I hit the jackpot. And much to my surprise, when I swiped right, we matched.
Our quick and witty banter led us to scheduling our first date — bowling and dinner, how original and pure! — and a few days after that fateful right swipe, we went met at a bowling alley in Studio City for the first time.
We kissed that night, and from that very moment, it felt like I had finally found what I’d been looking for — a reliable, good guy who would finally treat me how I deserved to be treated.
For the next six weeks or so, everything seemed great — too great, looking back on it. We’d text non-stop during the work day, go to movies at night, go out to eat; you know, normal dating stuff.
I hadn’t experienced that kind of normalcy with dating in a long time, as I somehow would always find the guys who could maybe squeeze me into their schedule for a drunken trivia night at a local bar with seven of his closest friends once a week, if that.
This was delightfully different, and it felt like we were in our own little world for a brief period of time.
About a month in, we had the “exclusive” talk, and I finally thought the little dark and stormy relationship cloud over my head had finally burst, and there would only be rainbows and sunshine from here on out.
We had our first sleepover and the next day, we both had to get up early for different things — I was going to the Grammys, and my former coworker was taking me as his date, which is something that didn’t seem to sit too well with my new dude.
Being an entertainment editor, though, I was so pumped about the big event that his mediocre reaction didn’t bother me.
All dressed up and ready to trip on the red carpet.
It’s not like I miraculously scored tickets and decided to snub him by not taking him, though. Plus, he had a private circus class with one of his instructors that day — something that I didn’t think anything of at the time, and something he was very, very excited about.
Approximately two days before Valentine’s Day, though, I got a text from him after I had gone to sleep that night — literally right after we were talking about plans for Valentine’s Day.
His text went a little something like this:
“Hey, so one of my circus instructors actually admitted she had feelings for me, and I’ve had feelings for her for a while, so we’re going to date now. Sorry.”
On top of that, he turned his phone off for the rest of the night, so he wouldn’t get my response until he decided to man up and turn his phone back on the next morning. I left him a voicemail telling him off, and when my texts finally went through, he acted like I was the one who had done something terrible to him.
I was crushed, obviously, and couldn’t stop picturing him and his mystery circus — and likely very flexible — new girlfriend in bed together on Valentine’s Day, eating chocolate covered strawberries off each other while doing Cirque du Soleil routines (or whatever those circus folks do in bed).
I spent the next couple weeks frantically swiping on dating apps to fill the void.
About two and a half months later, after another failed fling of mine with an ex-metal guitarist who had a cat named Potato, I thought I spotted my ex in my neighborhood while I was walking my dog. It wasn’t him, but I couldn’t shake him from my mind, and some part of me said, “Screw it!”
After a few large glasses of late night wine, I reached out to him.
He came over the next day, and we picked up our tumultuous, on-and-off again relationship right then and there.
Over the course of the next few months, we spent a lot of time together — we’d go to the mall and people watch then catch a movie, hang out at my place watching shows like Home Improvement and The Hills, go to baseball games, go out to eat, etc.
Again, normal relationship stuff, although we never had an “official” title, which would come back to haunt me (as it always does).
In July, I had unexpectedly lost my job due to budget cuts, and when I told him the sad news, he immediately helped me in trying to find a new job. Being in Los Angeles, it was easy to find paid work as an extra or appear on random shows, like dating shows or game shows, so these gigs were an easy way to help supplement the monthly income I had lost.
He got an email from a casting agent about a new MTV show, Flex on My Ex, where former couples appear on a dating show and spill all the dirt about their exes. In this case, the dudes were competing for a date with a “sexy single,” and their exes appeared alongside them and answered questions about them, and also called out whether they were lying about what they said.
He responded to a casting call with both of our headshots (don’t come at me, everyone has one here) and after an interview with the producers, we hoped for the best.
Note: while this was a show about exes, we were still involved with one another when we auditioned, and basically just gave them the story of why we broke up the first time. That’s showbiz, baby.
Anyway, while we were waiting for the callback, I saw in the news that there was a Taco Bell pop-up hotel in Palm Springs happening. Knowing his love for Taco Bell, I sent him the link and encouraged him to try and score a reservation, thinking that we could finally go away on a vacation together.
I legit thought that Taco Bell would solidify our relationship.
Let’s be real: Taco Bell doesn’t solidify anything, let alone a tumultuous “what are we” situationship.
After he had “won” a reservation at the coveted destination hotel, I assumed that he’d extend the invitation to me, too. After all, we were “exclusively” involved with one another, and while we didn’t technically have the boyfriend/girlfriend title, I turned him on to the Taco Bell hotel idea in the first place. He wouldn’t be going if it weren’t for me!
As you could’ve guessed, he didn’t invite me. And I was mad. Like, skin turning green, ripping out of my clothes type mad. He told me he’d be going alone, meeting up with people (read: women) for his relationship podcast, and that he didn’t owe me anything because we weren’t technically “together.”
Of course, about a week and a half after we had stopped talking, we both got emails from the MTV producers saying we booked the gig.
After eight months of being whipped around like this dude’s rag doll, I was finally in a power position. Meaning, if I didn’t want to go on a major network’s show with him — someone who moved to Los Angeles to become “famous” and seek validation from strangers — I didn’t have to.
But because I needed the money, I committed to the show. I’ll admit, I was super-nervous about filming, mostly because he and I didn’t end on the best of terms and hadn’t really spoken in weeks.
I could’ve absolutely demolished him while we were filming — after all, I was still hurt by everything that happened and didn’t know if I was ready to even be in the same room as him.
However, I’m not a spiteful person and don’t ever really feel comfortable “getting revenge” on someone — I’m a firm believer that everything someone does will eventually catch up to them in one way or another.
Exhibit A: this MTV show.
While I could’ve embellished or straight up lied about some of the questions that were asked to me about him, I answered truthfully.
Yes, he broke up with me over text message. Before Valentine’s Day.
Yes, he is the type of person who will do something nice for you when you’re feeling down. Then, he’ll throw it in your face afterward.
Yes, he marketed himself as a pole dancer and circus performer on the show. When the time came to awkwardly give me a lap dance, though, his own moves led the audience to believe that he needed to work on his routine — ASAP.
Reliving our hell-ish on-again, off-again situationship through the eyes of a room full of producers, production assistants, casting agents, and fellow actors and peers who appeared alongside us on the show could’ve been torture for me.
But it wasn’t.
In fact, it was quite the opposite. Seeing the reactions from a room full of strangers after recounting the BS I went through with him made me realize that going through these over-the-top, roller coaster moments with someone who really didn’t give one damn about me shouldn’t be the relationship standard in my life.
Why was I chasing this person who had been showing his true colors all along? Why did I think a lightbulb would all of a sudden turn on over his head and he’d realize that I was The One for him?
I’ll tell you why: I watch too many rom-coms.
After filming wrapped, I started distancing myself from him.
I muted him on Instagram so I wouldn’t see his Stories or any of his posts. I stopped responding to his texts as quickly, and when I did answer, I’d respond in a way that made it hard to keep the conversation going.
Finally, one day, he exploded at me via text. He sent me a picture of some new merch he got for his comedy show/dating podcast, and said something along the lines of, “If you followed me on Instagram, you’d know I got these.”
He then launched into a long-winded rage text rant that ended with him blocking my number before I could even respond.
Let me repeat: my ex angrily blocked me — a person who he claimed he was never officially together with in the first place — because I stopped liking his Instagram photos.
If I’m being honest, without that MTV show, there’s a 100% chance I would’ve been hung up on him for much, much longer.
I have a hard time letting go sometimes, but filming that show with him made me realize that I deserved so much better, and once I finally let go for good, I felt like I could breathe for the first time in almost a year.
And I have MTV’s Flex on My Ex to thank for that.