Auntie SparkNotes: Ex + Friend = EXFRIEND
I have a bit of a friend situation. I need help (obviously) and I am just afhhfhFGFFHJFBHBLARGHHHHH. You know that feeling? Anyhow. One of my absolute "best" friends is dating my ex. My relationship with my ex was short. Awkward, we couldn't be ourselves around each other, just didn't work out. Fine. Dandy.
Thing is, I really, REALLY liked this guy. He was my first real boyfriend, he was the first time a guy I really liked actually liked me back. About a month back I realized that said best friend had started talking regularly with him (I knew what was coming). I told her of my suspicions that my ex liked her, and she asked me I would be hurt if anything happened between them. I told her it would hurt me very much and she then proceeded to promise me that under any circumstances she would not let anything happen between them. Now here we are, and they've been going out for about 2 weeks.
I lied and told both her and Ex that I was very happy for both of them, yet I've begun to ignore both of them. What she did wasn't fair, it was incredibly selfish. Same with Ex, I lost all respect for him as well (not that I had any after the breakup... "We'd be better off as friends." Really, man?!?) I know people are butts sometimes but she absolutely crossed the line.
I don't want to talk things through, I'm not even sure if I want the friendship back. I just don't understand how she could've done that knowing it would hurt me and then expect everything to be okay by crying and telling me what a shitty person she is and how sorry she is. She didn't do anything to stop it, she just kept on going. I can't stand being friends with someone so incredibly selfish. I'm not a saint either, but I guarantee if I'd been in her shoes I wouldn't have done to her what she did to me. What do I do, Auntie? What if I'M the selfish catbutt for even being angry? Can you help me, Great Expert on all things decent human being?
First things first, Sparkler: let it out. Because this situation sucks, hard, and you’re fully entitled to be angry. (Especially when you do it in such a delightfully entertaining way and use words like “catbutt” to make your point. CATBUTT!) So go on and wallow in your fury, punch a pillow or two, and privately call your erstwhile friend and bonehead ex the most creatively nasty names you can think of.
But then—and I’m sorry, darling, but I think you know what’s coming—it’s time for some Real Talk about how You Don’t Own The People You Used To Date.
Because as much as it sucks to get dumped, and as much as it really sucks to then see the person who dumped you find happiness with someone else, and as much as it super-duper extra-strength sucks when the person they find happiness with is your friend... well, it happens. All the time. To everyone. And while yes, the laws of dating your friend’s ex do include certain caveats for the heartbroken—e.g. when the relationship in question was very long, very serious, or ended very recently and/or traumatically—it doesn’t sound like any of those apply here. I mean, you said it yourself: you were with this guy for all of five minutes, and it wasn’t working for either of you. He was bound to move on sooner or later.
So, who’s wrong in this situation? Actually, everyone. (Er, except maybe your ex? I hate to burst your bubble, but it sounds like he broke things off in a conscientious and respectful way; if you’re not feeling the love, then “I think we’re better off as friends” is a perfectly legit way to make your exit.) You shouldn’t have tried to stand in the way of their relationship, and your friend shouldn’t have promised not to have one. Because let’s be real, you both knew that it wasn’t your place to give or withhold permission, and you also both knew that she was going to date him no matter what you said, and the only way to keep your friendship from imploding was for everyone to play it cool.
Of course, your friendship has imploded—or at least it will soon, as you’ve said yourself that your friend’s decision to act on her feelings means she’s too selfish to be worth your time. And that’s your prerogative. But before you decide to cut ties forever, I hope you’ll think about this: Would you have really been less hurt if she’d had these feelings but not acted on them? Would you really feel awesome, knowing that the two of them desperately wanted to be together, and that the only thing standing in their way was you?
Or would you feel like a selfish, petulant, spiteful jerk who was so unhappy in her own love life that she decided to ruin somebody else’s?
I’ll give you a hint: most people, in this situation, would fall into the latter category. Because as much as it hurts to see your ex and your friend together, it hurts a lot more to know that you’ve actively squashed the happiness of two people you care about. And that’s why, for those who do want to be decent human beings, the only thing to do when your ex and your friend fall for each other is to take a deep breath, give them your blessing...
...and then quietly cry in your closet with a pint of ice cream until the pain goes away. (The good news: it always does.)
Have you ever dated a friend’s ex? Has your ex ever dated your friend? Tell us how you handled it in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related post: Auntie SparkNotes: Yes, She Wants Your Boyfriend