Posts Tagged ‘ex


setting the ex up with someone new

Reader N.G. writes:

I casually dated a guy for a while, and things didn’t work out. It wasn’t a bad break up and we’re still technically friends, although we don’t hang out alone together or anything — we just spend time in the same social circles. A few weeks ago, I brought a new friend to a party, and she was asking me questions about him. I think she’s kind of interested in him, which is great, because he hasn’t been dating anyone in a long time. I would be totally happy if he started dating a new girl, and I’m not jealous at all, but I don’t know if he’s her type. Still, I think she has a right to figure that out on her own. Of course: she doesn’t know we ever dated. So, should I tell her we dated, or tell her I don’t think he’s her type, or encourage her to try things out with him anyway, or what?

Dear N.G.:

It’s very kind of you to think of the happiness of both your new friends and past exes. It’s also great that you’re capable of moving on, especially since you only casually dated this guy and you still hang out in the same social circles. Good job on keeping things from getting awkward. Hopefully he feels the same way.

I tend to believe total honesty is the best route in all things relationship. However, given the casual nature of your relationship with both of these people, I don’t think it’s necessary to divulge that you dated the guy in question to your new friend.  Unless you know something really damning about him (like, he’s abusive or he has an STD), let her get to know him on her own time. Some relationships should just take their course.Who knows? They may be perfect for each other.

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Unify and conquer! Photo by stockimages,

Telling her straight up that 1. you used to date him and 2. you don’t think he’s her type can make you look like a jealous, territorial girl, even if you’re not at all jealous and actually want them to date. If she gets really deep into asking you questions about him, you might mention it for full disclosure, but I would not lead with it. Wait until she’s pretty close to having her own ideas about him before you plant that in her head. The fact that he’s casually dated you may taint her impressions of him, obviously.

On the flip side, I would not go overboard in trying to set them up, either. Pushing her on him could be just as disastrous to the unawkward vibe in your current setting as warning her off him would be, especially if he really isn’t her type. He will probably hear of it and figure it out as well, and it can be somewhat insulting for an ex to set you up with someone new; it could be seen as a “you can’t do this yourself and I need to get you out of my hair” gesture, depending on the guy and your relationship with him.

To sum up: my best advice is to play this cool. Don’t offer more information than necessary; keep the past info to yourself until it’s relevant; ask more questions than you offer details. Let this blossom as organically as you’d let any relationship between acquaintances or casual friends. Save the real matchmaking for your besties.


ex communication

Reader A. B. asks:

My ex-girlfriend and I kept up communication after we broke up, mostly over IM. Last week I noticed that her name never popped up as “online” on my buddy list, and I haven’t heard from her via text, so I have a sneaking suspicion she’s blocked me from her chat list or something. I can’t decide if I should text her to see what’s up or just let it be. What do you think?

Dear A.B.:

As always, I’m going to recommend you consider your own feelings here, rather than those of your ex, because frankly, you’ll never know what she’s really thinking.

So how do you feel about not talking to her?

I think you’re probably being a bit paranoid. Maybe she’s just been on vacation or something and hasn’t turned her IMs on.


Image: jscreationzs /


If you are genuinely concerned that she may be in the hospital or kidnapped or something, by all means, send her a text to check in. But keep in mind that this kind of genuine concern could communicate more to her than you mean to, namely that you’re still interested in her. She may take it as a sign that you want to hang out again. She may think you’re interested in rekindling things. If you’re not totally opposed to that awkwardness coming up, then go for it.

But if you’re not looking to respark a flame, you might hold back a bit. If your concern is actually just curiosity, remember: that shit kills cats. As her ex, it is actually your duty NOT to be all up in her business all the time. I know, being exes can be complicated, and it’s hard to just let go of someone that you’ve really cared about, especially if it was for a long period of time and the break up was amicable. But checking in on her is not always the right thing to do, especially if you’re trying to let go of something that was pretty serious.

Of course, calling her out on the lack of communication will put your mind at ease, regardless of what the reason is. If she doesn’t want to talk to you anymore, she’ll tell you, so you can forgo all the worrying about it being a fluke or an emergency. Or you’ll feel like an idiot when she tells you she just moved and doesn’t have internet access for the time being.

Another good way to get around this is to check with a mutual friend, if you have any. It’s a sly workaround, but it works. You have to trust the friend, of course, because if they go running to the ex telling her you’re asking about her, it’ll ruin the workaround entirely. But a good friend may know what’s up, or if she’s been saying she doesn’t want to talk to you anymore, or if she’s in the hospital.

I say if you really want to keep her in your life, talking to you, man up, and ask her what’s up. If she’s really, seriously hell bent on ignoring you, she won’t tell you anyway. Then you’ll know for sure it’s over, too. Which is, in my mind, the bigger question here.


more ex-etiquette

Reader C. D. asks:

Is it appropriate to ask your friends not to tell you when they see your ex? It seems like there is such an inclination to say, “Hey! I saw (insert asshole’s name) at the bar on Saturday.” The truth is, I don’t want to know because then I start wondering, “Who was he with? Why was he out? Was he with a girl?” Or should I just accept that my friends will see my ex and will continue to tell me they saw him because we are in the same social circles?

Dear C.D.:

I think it is perfectly appropriate for you to ask your friends not to tell you when they see your ex.

However, they will probably forget that you’ve asked them and tell you anyway.

Part of being human is that we want to share stories that excite or titillate us. Seeing your ex is a piece of drama that may just be too irresistible to let go, especially if the person doing the seeing thinks your ex is an asshole, too.

I’ve heard it many times myself: “Oh ugh I just saw your horrendous asshole of an ex at some bar with his horrible new girlfriend!”

I don’t want to know he’s alive and well and has a new girlfriend, regardless of how ugly she is. If you see him in a terrible accident or being mauled by dogs, by all means, let me know. Otherwise, keep his happy goings-on to yourself, kthx.

Of course, I just smile and nod. “Yes, she must be horrible to date him, huh.” And we all laugh.

Even though it hurts to know he’s still living and breathing and capable of doing fun things, remember that your friends are just telling you because they care. When they see him out, they think of you, whether you like it or not. They want to tell you because it’s on the list of things they know you care about. Friends who really care about us are like living Google news feeds. They make lists of things they know we care about and then give us the news feed, whether it’s going to hurt our feelings or not.

I’ve had a similar problem with an ex and not wanting to hear or see anything about him, which is particularly difficult if you have some of the same Facebook friends. Nothing quite like going to post that you like someone’s status and seeing that your asshole ex already has. I don’t want to have my name on the same page as his. Why don’t my friends recognize this? How are they still friends with someone who was so clearly awful?

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

I know this is what you'd really like to do. Image: Salvatore Vuono /

But you can’t ask people to defriend others on Facebook, regardless of how much of an asshole said ex was to you and your family (and continues to be, for the record).  Just like you can’t ask your friends not to go to bars where your ex may show up.

So what I did was I blocked him. When you block someone on Facebook, you don’t see anything they post on other peoples’ pages, or anywhere on Facebook. Sometimes this can be quite funny, as when someone responds to something he’s written on one of their posts, and the response now looks like it was made to thin air. Thus I have made lemonade out of lemons. I have turned what was once a stomach-turning event of rehashing all the horrible things he’s done and continues to do into a funny scene, like watching a drunk bum talk to himself.

Of course, there is no “block” button in real life. And while you can tell your friends that it hurts your feelings to hear anything about him, you are going to have to steel yourself against the inevitable: they are going to see him and want to tell you about it. In fact, you may have to deal with actually seeing him yourself one day.

So let’s find you some lemonade punch to make. Maybe even a champagne punch with lemon zest.

Here’s how:

Be so fabulously happy in your own life that it doesn’t matter if he’s out with someone else. This takes time and practice and a straight face. Sometimes you have to act the part before you actually believe it. It will take time to stop caring about him. And you may never fully stop. But at some point there are going to be things that are more important. And that is what matters.

Start laughing if your friends tell you they’ve seen him out. Pretend they are drunk bums talking to themselves. Tell them you didn’t really want to know, but thanks for thinking of you. And laugh. If you can’t laugh about him or at him, laugh at how silly the situation is. Better yet, find something really funny that always makes you laugh, and laugh at that. Mine is a Strongbad Email from about writing a children’s book. If I need to break myself out of a mood, I simply say to myself: “No two people are not on fire.” Instant giggles.

And in time, the sting that he’s still out and about with all his limbs in tact hurts less because I’ve got my own life to live. And you do, too.

Of course, you could just dump all your friends and move to an exotic locale where no one knows you.

But that’s a bit over the top, don’t you think?


ex etiquette

Reader S.J. asks:

I’m getting a divorce and I really don’t ever want to see my ex again. However, I live in a small enough town, and we have similar enough interests, that I will assuredly run into him at some point. What should I do when I see him?

Dear S.J.:

I tried to make this into a flow chart, but it didn’t work out. There are just too many factors that go into it.  I’m going to give you a couple scenarios. It’ll be like choose your own adventure.

NB: Some of these are really bad ideas. Bonus points for whoever can identify the really bad ideas.

1. Are you alone? Yes –> Do you feel sexy? –> Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> Yes –> Do you really hate your ex? –> Yes –> Does your ex owe you money? –> Yes –> Are you in a private setting, like a party? –> No –> Punch your ex in the face and walk away

2. Are you alone? Yes –> Do you feel sexy? –> Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> No –> Do you really hate your ex? –> Yes –> Start up a conversation with the words, “So how’s that infection treating you?”

3. Are you alone? No –> Are you with a date? –> Yes –> Is the date sexy? –> Waaaay sexy –> Is your ex alone? –> Yes  –> Make a point of introducing your ex to your new fling

4. Are you alone? No –> Are you on a date? –> No –> Do your friends hate your ex as much as you do? –> Yes –> Are you in a private setting like a party? –> Yes –> Get your friends to ask your ex to leave.

5. Are you alone? Yes –> Are you feeling confident and sexy? –> No –> Is your ex alone? –> No –> Just leave. You’ll feel better.

6. Are you alone? Yes –> Are you feeling confident and sexy? Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> No –> Do you really hate your ex? –> No –> Have five or more years passed since the break up? –> Yes –> Is your ex looking sexy? –> No –> Go say hi and see how the ex is doing. It won’t kill you.

7. Are you alone? Yes –> Are you feeling confident and sexy? –> Yes –> Is your ex alone? –> Yes –> Do you really hate your ex? –> No –> Have five or more years passed? –> Yes –> Is your ex looking sexy? –> Yes –>Make up and make out. Do it.

The basic idea I’m trying to convey here is that it’s a touchy moment, seeing your ex. Your surroundings can also completely influence your reaction. You’re going to have a rush of feelings — most of them terrible. For the record, I think that, as a rational being, you should be able to tame those terrible feelings and react in a proper manner. So in reality, options 1 – 4 are not options I would promote.  The whole “punching them in the face” thing or embarrassing them may sound like fun, but you’ll feel really bad afterward. And seriously, who the hell is going to get their friends to ask someone to leave a party? Suck it up. The break up is between you two, not everyone else in the world. Be the bigger man/woman. Either ignore them or leave. Those are basically your options.

Should your ex leave? Maybe. But the fact is, you can’t control your ex’s behavior. If your ex isn’t going to leave, and you really can’t stand being in the same room, it’s up to you to change the situation.

As an aside, for those of us that are the uncomfortable ex, it can be very gracious of you to leave, even if you don’t have those same feelings of hatred towards your ex that he or she has towards you. As a general rule of thumb, I try to take the other person’s feelings into account. If I think my presence is ruining their night, I’ll leave and find something better to do. Of course, I’m crazy.

Scenarios 6 and 7 are recommended for a later time. That time will come, trust me. After a lot of time has passed, you may find that you don’t hate that ex so much (or maybe you’ve got a new one to hate more!). If you can’t get your ex to move to Hawaii, just remind yourself that water under the bridge will heal all wounds. Throw in a few other mixed metaphors. That sounds soothing to me.

My last idea in this department is to have a healthy fantasy life. I don’t just mean a healthy sexual fantasy life. I mean all those things you want to do to your ex, like embarrass him in public or beat him up (scenarios 1-4), can take place in your mind. My shrink once recommended that I have an ex-bashing night with my friends. Get together and talk about how crappy the ex is, and then get over it. Water under the bridge, again. And maybe you’ll feel better the first time you see the ex in public.

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