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June 15, 2009

Friends and Exes

Did you ever have a friend that disappears when he or she gets a new significant other in their life? Yeah, we all have one of those... or you know, a few of those. It's easy to get swept up in new love and usually they come to the senses after the "honeymoon" phase has passed.

Quite a few times though, my friends have cut their time with me at the request of their significant others. Why? There are two main reasons. The first, that I'm such a bad influence. The second, I'm female. That's right. A lot of my guy friends are not allowed to hang out with me anymore because being a heterosexual woman I might try to have sex with them! On the one hand, I could take it as a compliment that I'm just too hot to be given unsupervised access to anyone's boyfriend. On the other more realistic hand, it's pretty damn annoying.

Now I suppose it's only fair to acknowledge that some of these "friends" are in fact ex-boyfriends. (Well, some of them are actual ex-boyfriends and some of them are ex-something-elses, but you get the point). So I guess it's not that ludicrous for a current girlfriend to have some concerns about our friendship, but the truth is, in most cases the friendship is completely totally just that - friendship. I'm still friendly with a lot of my exes, or at least I've tried to be. Sometimes it works for a while; sometimes it really doesn't.

I always make it clear from the start of any relationship that I have lots of guy friends and some of them are exes. If a guy can't deal with that fact and trust me, then we have a problem. I think once you reach a certain age, you really do need to demand a certain level of respect and trust from someone you date seriously. Of course, you can argue that respect and trust need to be earned... but I think if you have never given anyone a reason to distrust you then it says something about them if they automatically do. I suppose it's not fair for me to expect my guy friends to care as much about my friendship as I do about theirs, but it sure is nice when they do.

Of course, that isn't always the case. I was recently given the boot by by a guy I dated several years ago. (Here comes the free therapy... that's why I have a blog, right?) He had recently moved back from out of state and I had missed him, so we got back in touch and had lunch. But then after several attempts at making casual plans again were shot down with pretty weak reasons, I finally had the sense to check his facebook status. (I know, I know). I was right in my suspicions though - he had a new girlfriend. So I just came right out and asked the question:
Why are you such a stranger? Are you not allowed to be friends w/ ex-girlfriends anymore?
I anticipated two possible answers: "Of course, I'm allowed... let's get lunch soon!" or "No, I'm not allowed anymore. Sorry." I did not expect the answer that I got: "Yes, I'm allowed... I just don't want to". Of course, I'm paraphrasing... it wasn't quite that douchey, but yet it was still pretty douchey in my opinion.
As far as being allowed to be friends with you, that's not an issue; my gf knows that I am still friends with some of my exes. But she needs to believe that I'm JUST friends with my exes. I mean, let's face it, most guys only stay friends with exes because they want to fuck them at a future date. You and I both know I'm not one of those guys, but does she? I just don't want to give her any reason to distrust me. Don't forget that she and I weren't friends beforehand like the two of us were, so the mutual trust that you and I had pretty much from the beginning is still forming between me and her.

All that being said, it's nice to know that you still think about me. You also pop into my head every now and again. Sometimes even in a PG setting ;-)
Okay, first of all: barf! It's really kind of gross to make a joke about thinking of me in a non-PG setting right after telling me that you're not one of those guys who wants to fuck his ex. Ick times ten. But anyway... needless to say my feelings were really hurt by that message. It's shitty enough when someone disses you because they gave in to their significant other's jealousy, but an unnecessary preemptive strike feels even worse. Especially when the explanation was so matter-of-fact and didn't even include an apology.

I had been so pushed into the role of the former (former girlfriend, former friend) that he actually felt it was appropriate to refer to my popping into his head from time to time, as if I was some random person from his past who he randomly thought of occasionally. It also begs the question of what "friend" means to him. His girlfriend knows that he's still "friends" with some exes, but yet, that friendship doesn't consist of hanging out or even talking. Can you even call someone a friend without those two criteria? I had been downgraded to "facebook friend". This from someone I have known for twelve years.

Oh and speaking of that... just a little side note: The "mutual trust" thing was bullshit. We were friends before we dated, but I was so emotionally damaged by my previous boyfriend that I had no trust for when we started dating, to the point that I didn't even want to admit to myself that we were dating. But the fact that we were friends - both before and after we dated - made it hurt even more to get tossed aside when a new girlfriend came on the scene.

Anyway, it took me some time to sort out of my feelings about it. I realized that my feelings were mainly of the "he can suck it" nature, because I was just really disappointed in him. It occurred to me that there could only be four possible outcomes from his decision to cut me out of his life:

1. We remain facebook friends only, which is fine for people I went to high school with and barely know... but unsatisfying for people I actually cared about.
2. I wait until he decides that she trusts him enough and then we become friends again... which most likely would result in her wondering why I emerged from out of nowhere, resparking the distrust issue.
3. I wait until they inevitably break up to become friends again, at which point he likely would try to get me in a non-PG setting again. (Ew).
4. We cease to be friends, period.

Clearly, only the fourth situation is okay with me... because I don't sit around and wait for any man - friend, boyfriend, or otherwise. S
o I sat down and wrote back to him:
Wow. That's a whole lot of words to basically say "no".

From a girlfriend-perspective (because I've had that role about as many times as I've had the role of ex-girlfriend) I've always found it more suspicious when "an old friend I used to date" popped up out of nowhere than if she was an established friend from the start. So I guess if I'm not really your friend now, then I won't be again... which is sad.

The truth is, I've always thought of you as a friend first and an ex second, but I guess it was silly for me to assume you felt the same way. You were sort of giving me the cold shoulder for a while before I realized you had a new girlfriend, so this doesn't really change much but it's just nice to know the reason. I'd be lying if I said I completely agreed with it but I absolutely understand and respect it. I am glad that you're happy.
PS: Oh and by "absolutely understand and respect it" I just mean that I won't be calling/texting again so that you don't possibly jeopardize a relationship with someone who wants to have sex with you by actually being a friend to someone who doesn't. But good luck with that mutual trust.
He didn't even bother responding, which just goes to show how much he really valued our friendship. So yet another friend bites the dust. On the other side of the spectrum, another one of my exes is currently dating such an awesome woman that I can see a point in the future where I would be happy to consider her a friend in her own right and not just "his girlfriend". It sucks that that will never be the case with this guy. It's really unfortunate that I will likely never get to meet his girlfriend, because any woman whom he would date/would date him is probably pretty cool and someone I would enjoy knowing. Although in reality, while I am definitely hurt by the loss of the friendship, it's really his loss. I'm so awesome anyone who doesn't want to be my friend is clearly disturbed.

I've always been very understanding about my boyfriends remaining friends with their exes. In fact, I prefer it because a man who is on good terms with his exes is more likely to be on good terms with me when we break up. A really great boyfriend serves as both a lover and a best friend... it's painful to lose both. After an initial post-breakup "grace period", the evolution from boyfriend to ex-boyfriend to friend is always the goal. Am I alone on this one?

Anyone else want to share any of their ex/friend stories? (C'mon... it would totally make me feel better).


Anonymous said...

When my ex dumped me he deleted me off Facebook, deleted my number, threw out the presents I had given him and the jumper of his I used to wear, and asked me to do all the same things. We went out for over a year and broke up because we had drifted apart, not because of something horrible. He just said it "hurt him too much to be reminded of me". We went out for over a year and I lost my virginity to him, so I had kinda hoped we could end on better terms :S

Anonymous said...

Here's a story for you. One of my best friends, a guy named Aaron, started dating my college roommate/friend. My feelings toward him were platonic, and I was happy for them both. Everything was fine for a while, until one day, Aaron decided to stop talking to me. This was especially obvious since we were living in the same house on campus. He ignored me for a month, and then told me that his girlfriend had gotten very jealous about him flirting with me during some incident which was, to my recollection and his, completely flirt-free. In an effort to avoid accidentally offending her further, however, he'd stopped talking to me. He expected me to be cool with this and be friends with him again.

I understand that he didn't want to upset his girlfriend, that she was a rather insecure individual, and that he was new to dating and not sure what to do. But what made him think the solution was to stop talking to one of his best friends for a month after one moment of paranoia? I guess he forgot that I, you know, had feelings too. I'm no longer upset about this because it was a while ago, but god, it is obnoxious how much other people's immaturity can impact innocent bystanders.

figleaf said...

Hi Lilith,

Blue-eyed Vixen has a related post about being contacted, or even confronted, by suspicious partners of platonic friends. Link: http://blue-eyedvixen.com/index.php/archive/confronting-the-other-woman-cqw/

I remember being sabotaged by a current partner when I offered to help a former partner (and current friend and workmate) move in with her new boyfriend. And I say sabotaged only because later my then-partner very bluntly told one of her friends there was no way she was going to permit it.

Which actually would have been fine, I guess, except she just kept coming up with things that just had to be done before we could go help.

I dunno. I can see being jealous and/or impeding if you actively suspect an affair. But just limiting contact with opposite-sex friends seems unnecessarily controlling.


Hershele Ostropoler said...

My partner noticed that I don't mind that she and her ex-husband are friends, but women he gets close to certainly do So it may be a male/female thing.