We all know what it’s like to think of the perfect come-back a few minutes, days or years too late. Here are some examples – some funny, some angry, some wistful – from the world of dating…
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‘My first ever boyfriend was, what he called, ‘really artistic’. This generally meant being very moody, writing ‘poetry’, and strumming away on his guitar looking very earnest. It was quite sweet for about a week, but then I just wanted to go out, laugh and talking about TV like normal teenagers! When I dumped him, he accused me of being shallow and ignorant. As this was my first break-up, I thought you just had to accept whatever they said. But years later, I realised I should have said: ‘The only thing I’m ignorant of is not knowing where to buy ear plugs to block out your painful, droning nonsense…’
‘My ex always used to complain that I never made enough effort with his family or friends, and when we broke up he said I was ‘socially incompetent’. I was so upset anyone could think that of me, I just burst into tears. But afterwards, in the clear light of day, I realised my response should have been: ‘I’m not socially incompetent; the actual problem is your mother is an over-bearing control freak, your Dad won’t stop staring at my breasts, and your friends seem to think they’re the cast of American Pie’.
‘I’d been dating a much younger guy over one summer, and it was fun but it clearly wasn’t going anywhere – he was still a student, still lived at home. But one day, he decided to have a really serious talk about why he wasn’t sure if things would work out in the future because he wasn’t ready to settle down. He went on and on about how sorry he was to let me down, and he hoped I didn’t hate him. He looked so upset, I felt guilty for telling him I didn’t actually care, so went along with pretending I was gutted. What I really wanted to say though, was: ‘You were only ever filling in time til a real man comes along…’
‘In a bar recently, I was chatting to my mate when this guy appeared and announced: ‘Why aren’t you smiling, your conversation must be really boring’. We were both so taken aback, we just stared at him until he walked away. When he’d just gone out of ear-shot though, I finally came back with: ‘We used up all our laughing when you first walking in the door and we saw your face.’ It’s still not the most hilarious or clever retort, I admit, but if he’d heard it at least he wouldn’t think we were as quiet and boring as he accused us of being!’
‘Not so long ago, a guy dumped me for being ‘a bit podgy’. I was, naturally, mortified, and promptly went on a diet. Fast-forward a few months, and I was looking svelte and fit, and more importantly was feeling really confident. That was, until I bumped into the horrible ex. ‘You’re looking good,’ he said. ‘You’ve lost some of that horrible excess baggage.’ I proudly went on to tell him exactly how many pounds I’d dropped, how I’d done it, and then thanked him for inspiring me to do it. It was only when he walked away that I realised how desperate that made me sound, and what I should have said was: ‘Yes, I lost some horrible excess baggage: you.’
‘At uni, I had a massive crush on my best friend. We did the same course, lived in the same house, and spent pretty much every hour of every day together. I assumed it was so obvious that I adored her, I didn’t ever need to say it, and eventually we’d just start dating. Instead though, she went out – and eventually married – another guy from our course. To this day, we’re still friends, but I never stop wishing how I’d not taken anything for granted and told her: ‘You mean everything to me’.
‘I was once dating the prettiest, sweetest, funniest girl I’d ever met – she was perfect. Sadly though, my brain decided she was too perfect and I became convinced she’d dump me for someone better. Not wanting to sit and wait for the inevitable, I got drunk, cheated on her, and got her to dump me. I still regret it, 10 years on, and would do anything to rewind time and just tell her ‘I’m scared you’ll leave me’ instead of jumping to conclusions and ruining everything.’
‘A couple of years ago, I met this guy online, we went on a date and got on brilliantly. We had loads in common, laughed all the time – he was really hot too! A few days later, we were texting to arrange another date, but then suddenly I didn’t hear back from my last message. Assuming he’d lost interest, I was upset, but left it at that. It was only four months later, when I finally got round to some ‘phone admin’ that I realised the last text I thought I’d sent actually just saved in my drafts! I should have just called and said; ‘This is what happened, do you still want to meet up?’. I got scared though – and then the more time that passed, the more silly I felt suddenly getting in touch again. I still wonder what might have happened though, if I’d just picked up the phone and asked him out.’
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