under Date Night
I was with my ex-boyfriend for four years. Since breaking up, we’ve been able to remain good friends. In fact, I’m still friends with most of my exes and I thought guys would see this as a good thing – that I’m known as a good person and clearly don’t attract drama. But, when I mentioned hanging out with an ex to my most recent dates, the guys were not cool with it at all. One even straight-up asked if I was still having sex with an ex! (We are not.) Why do the guys have a problem with this? Is it their problem or mine?
Dear Friendly Femme
Theoretically, a man who is secure with himself, and your relationship with him, shouldn’t have a problem with you having a friendship with another man. It does become more complicated when you had a romantic relationship with that man in the past. Most men assume that a “guy-friend” – particularly one you had sex with in the past – is really only hanging around for (more) eventual sex. Being around an ex can make a new guy feel intimidated.
My advice is this: in order to find the man you want to spend the rest of your life with, you may need to put some distance between yourself and your exes. I personally don’t see a reason to be friends with every single one, but I do understand that you spent a good chunk of your life with someone and don’t want to lose that piece of your life. You need to ask yourself what an ex – or any friend for that matter – is contributing to your life? If you haven’t realized this yet, you will eventually: friendships are about quality, not quantity.
I suggest not mentioning your guy friends on a date, or the fact that those guy friends are exes. If things get serious and you begin introducing your new beau to your friends, then you will need to give a history ahead of time. But, you may also find you no longer want to be friends with an ex as things get more serious with someone else. Certain people from your past should stay in your past — even if the break-up was cordial and you get along now.
Since coining the phrase “poly-dating,” I have been asked the following question: isn’t that cheating? No. No, it is not. Until you are in a committed, monogamous relationship (whether you had ‘The Talk’ or you just know you both want to be pursue a future together), you do not need to explain yourself to anyone. You can date anyone you want. But, as soon as things start getting serious with one person, then you must break it off with the others. If you’re planning on having sex with one of your prospects then you need to break things off with the others beforehand, out of respect for all parties involved.
Once your new relationship is secure you can mention that there were others you were dating until they made you realize that no one else could measure up (may as well spread it on thick if you’re going to go there), but don’t volunteer the information if no one asks because it really doesn’t matter what you did before things got serious.
And, in general, there is no reason to continue having a friendship with any of the rejected prospects. You were dating to see if there was a future together; there wasn’t, and that relationship is now over. Your new significant other will not appreciate you having a friendship with someone you were dating at the same time.
Are you still friends with an Ex? I’m not, and I never have been. Not because it necessarily ended badly but because I just had no desire to hang out with someone I used to be romantic with. I shared things with this person, intimate things — be it emotional confessions or something more in the physical sense — and I don’t feel the need to hang out, and I don’t understand people who do. So many TV shows have exes hanging out: Friends, Seinfeld, Happy Endings, Grey’s Anatomy, even CSI and Law & Order. It’s just not realistic! A flow chart trying to keep Private Practice hook-ups straight looks more like a spider web, and these people work together too? Yeah right! It doesn’t happen, and it shouldn’t happen. Do you really want to be sitting around with a bunch of friends and be discussing your dating life with your ex? No. When you bring a new date into the fold, and you’re making introductions, how are you going to deal? You can’t lie, but the truth will make everyone uncomfortable.
Some exceptions: you went on one date and didn’t even kiss because there was absolutely no chemistry or you dated more than ten years ago but for less than a year.
It might seem weird to close the door on someone you were involved with, but what can they contribute to your future? Shut that door and leave the past in the past. The only thing you need to take with you is the lessons you learned from that relationship.