4

“I’m Not Dating Anyone That’s Still Friends With Their Ex”

It was one of those beautiful Saturday afternoons where the sunlight reflected off the bold walls in my colossal bedroom. Five o’clock had rolled around and I was still sprawled across my bed staring at the ceiling. My mood was a mix between melancholy and anger over a disagreement I’d had with Epiphany. Every time there was an alert on my phone I’d anxiously look to see if it was him. He never called. Thankfully my best friend did. She immediately knew from the tone of my voice that something was up. After venting we blabbered about everything under the sun for six hours. We laughed. And I’d finally felt like myself again.

During that soul lifting conversation she joked about vicariously living through my very full dating life. When I rambled about the woes of dating she responded, “I’ll never forget the day you told me I should be dating. This is why I’m not!” Although she had the desire to marry and have children at some point she wasn’t actively doing anything to work toward that dream. Even though she wasn’t involved with anyone she had a vision for how she wanted her fairytale to play out. Damn you Disney, for your stupid patriarchal fairytales. Because of previous situations she had a list of questions that she promised herself she’d never wait too late to ask, and by not wait too late she meant within the first few dates. I let her ride on her list of questions because I understood the reasoning behind it. But when she hit me with, “You know, I’m not dating anyone that’s still friends with their ex,” I figuratively went nuts.

“What? That’s absurd,” I damn near yelled. “It’s also unreasonable.”

“No, I don’t think so,” she said firmly.

“Not everyone hates their ex. You should be able to trust him to know their friendship is just that–a friendship.”

“It’s not that I wouldn’t trust him. It’s just too easy for something to happen.”

*silence*

“Let’s say they’re hanging out. As friends. They have no intentions of doing anything. They start drinking, the attraction is still there and the next thing you know one thing leads to another and they’ve crossed the friendship line.”

“But this won’t happen because they’re just friends. They’ll respect the boundaries,” I retorted.

“I’m just saying. Once you start having a good time with someone you used to love or care about it’s too easy to cross that line. I’d trust him, but his ex/friend has no alliance to me. If she wants to cross the line she’s not going to think twice about me.”

“I hear you. But how you gon’ find a man that’s not friends with any of his exes?”

We laughed.

About six months later I met Cam through mutual friends. We’d all gone to college together, but he and I never crossed paths while in school. We both loved music, but other than that I didn’t see what either of us would have in common. As handsome as he was he wasn’t my type. Over the next few months we’d bump into each other occasionally. It was always a pleasant exchange, but nothing more, nothing less.

Since we knew a slew of the same people his name would come up in random conversation nearly a year before I’d ever met him. I basically knew of him before I “knew him.” One day my friend mentioned that he was in a relationship with a local chick we all knew from our hometown. People that knew them knew they were together, but it wasn’t a relationship they went around toting for the city to see. I never thought twice about their situation because it didn’t pertain to me.

After running into Cam enough times he suggested we have lunch. Since I never assume that a guy asking to hang out means he’s interested, I said of course. Like many of our encounters to follow, that lunch turned into us spending the rest of the day together vibing. Apparently he was newly single.

Time went on, we clicked. There was never a dull moment. It was something new and fresh and it turned out we had lots in common.

The most I’d learn about his previous relationship was summed up in a five minute conversation. After four years he didn’t see the relationship going anywhere so he broke it off. There was no messy fallout or drama. It was just over but they were still friends. I suggested they work it out because they seemed to really care about each other (from what I assumed based on a couple of things). He insisted he knew it wouldn’t work. End of discussion.

Being around him I never felt like his attention wasn’t all there, or that he’d rather be somewhere else. He also never hesitated to take me around our mutual friends that could easily tell the ex beau we were dating. Despite all of this something kept tugging away at me that I was walking in rebound chick territory. Perhaps it was intuition. For some nagging reason I couldn’t get past the thought, ‘How can I compete with someone he was with for four years. And they’re still friends.’ I’ll own up to this being my own insecurity.

My phone conversation with my bestie replayed in my head for days. I’m not dating anyone that’s still friends with their ex, I’m not dating anyone that’s still friends with their ex, I’m not dating anyone that’s still friends with their ex was on repeat in my head. Was she onto something?

I still believe exes can go from lovers to platonic friends. Sort of. One of the people I love the most on this earth is someone I’ve been in a relationship with. He’s my best friend. I couldn’t imagine someone giving me an ultimatum or telling me that it’s a fine line to continue our friendship. Granted I don’t still have feelings for him, which is a huge difference between having feelings for an ex and just being friends.

As for Cam and I? I broke it off with him a day later. I didn’t ask him if he still was in love with her or still had feelings. Knowing they were close friends was enough for me. And I knew I was too damn fly to be anybody’s rebound chick. Even if my suspicion was only based on a hunch.

  • Dating someone who is still friends with an ex depends upon a few factors: 1) how far back was the breakup? 2) The degree of closeness in said friendship.
    Sometimes all we need is a slight pull from our intuition. A hunch is all we need to know.  

    As always poignant writing, Bene. Thanks for sharing!

  • Tianna

    Story of my life. Still close friends with my ex and we broke up 5 years ago. Haven’t had a successful relationship since.

  • BMG

    Being too close with an ex can Block the energy of someone new to come into your life. Even if you are over the relationship, they may not be completely over you. I think the real test of friendship would be when either one of you starts to seriously date someone else. Then and only then will one know the true level of friendship between exes. It’s a tricky situation and I’d proceed with caution.

  • I finally understand the importance of breaking if off COMPLETELY with exes. I tend to hoard my ex-boyfriends and stay friends with them because, why not. Until I learned that being friends with them blocks real lasting love to enter my life. Even though we’re over, I’m still directing energy towards my past instead of my future.

    And I would never date anyone that’s still friends with their ex, because given the opportunity, most of my exes would still sleep with me if I let them (when we were friends), even if they are married or in a new relationship. So no need to take the risk.