Generally in the past I’ve become friends with most of my ex-boyfriends. Now, in some cases this was easy to do because we were friends to start with and really shouldn’t have dated (some people are just meant to be friends). In other cases it took work and time to become friends. But I’ve always believed you can’t have enough friends and if I liked someone enough to date them, then why not be friends with them as they add some positive value to my life.
Of course, it’s not always possible. Sometimes one person gets hurt by the break up so being friends is too hard. Sometimes, the break up happens because of bad behaviour and you just don’t want to ever see them again, let alone be friends. And sometimes, the break up causes a lot of anger/hurt, too much to get past. But I still believe that if communication is open, genuine and honest; friendship can often be built from the ashes of a relationship.
However, I don’t believe anyone can get to that point without effort, without respect and without honest communication. And I really don’t trust anyone who tries to step right into the relationship again – either as a friendship or trying to rebuild the original romantic relationship – without acknowledging what went wrong, past mistakes and yes, apologizing. But even more important, whichever ex-partner wants to rebuild/reconnect, has to ask the other what they want. Don’t assume. And don’t put the other in an awkward position.
Why am I talking about this?
Recently – the past two months or so – I’ve seen my ex-boyfriend in several social situations (we have mutual friends). Before this happened, I hadn’t seen or heard from him since we broke up a year ago. Yep, like 10 months of no contact. I’ll be honest, the break up was mostly because I lost my temper with his complete break off of communication (it went from 20-30 texts a day to nothing for four days). If he had have talked to me then, we might have worked it out and even if we couldn’t, we probably would have parted civilly. But one of the unpardonable sins in my eyes is not communicating, I can’t deal with it.
So it was an angry break up on my part (no idea what he was thinking). Fast forward 10 months and we meet again at a mutual friend’s birthday. It was awkward but I could mostly ignore him. And I did.
And then he joins a language exchange group I run. Why? Another friend suggested it to him and that he might want to help out. And being me, I didn’t want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable so I treated him just like everyone else. Afterwards, he messaged me to say thanks for making him feel welcome. Damn my innate niceness!
A few other random meetings happened with me trying to ignore him or treat him just like everyone else which had little impact and I stopped worrying about the uncomfortableness of it all.
But then at a friend’s going away party he got drunk and all touchy-feely. I wanted to hit him. We were out with a large group of friends, only a couple of which knew we dated and I didn’t want to make a scene. But he kept grabbing my hand, apologizing drunkenly (and mostly in Korean so I couldn’t follow it all) and then he tried to kiss me. That was the final straw. There was no way I was going to let him kiss me but it’s really hard to push someone away without everyone noticing.
Which led to questions, explanations and created a situation I just didn’t want. I mean who really wants to explain about a past relationship while annoyed with the ex.
But while I have never shied away from an argument or confrontation, I dislike making a scene or making my friends uncomfortable. So I had to act like I wasn’t pissed off and extremely uncomfortable with everything. Fortunately, other than a few people being surprised that we dated (and only because I look ‘white’ and he’s Korean), I don’t think anyone was made uncomfortable by it (other than me).
Of course, that meant the ex-boyfriend didn’t realize either because while he did apologize the next day for his drunken behaviour, he asked me out in the next sentence. Um, no. I would never date a guy I can’t trust and I just don’t trust him anymore.
Which now puts me in an awkward situation. I don’t want to be friends with him or date him because I don’t trust him. But damn it, I also don’t want to be in this situation (yeah, I know whining about it won’t help but still, I think I deserve at least one ‘damn it’ sentence).
And while I believe relationships of all kinds – friendships, romantic relationship, etc. – require open, honest and frequent conversations and communication; I’m not convinced that an ex-boyfriend deserves the same consideration. Call me a coward but I just want to avoid the situation. Yeah, I know the ostrich approach of sticking one’s head in the sand doesn’t work well but it’s so appealing right now.
And of course, as luck would have it, our paths crossed again and he kept asking if I was still mad at him and touching me too familiarly. Okay, I don’t mean in a sexual way but in a familiar way that people who date touch each other on the arm. But he doesn’t have the right to touch me anymore! Which means I am going to deal with it.
SO frustrating! I want to date a nice, sweet, fun, intelligent guy not deal with my ex!
I need your help! How would you deal with this situation? What would you do? Advice? Popular suggestions are to ignore him (from my female friends) and to get someone to ‘talk’ to him (jokingly from male friends). I’m voting for ignoring him but figure that may not work. What do you think?