Is it awful of me to hook up with my ex's friend?
By Cait Robinson
Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be edited for length, content, and clarity.
Dear Miss Information,
I dumped "V" more than a year ago — it wasn't a bad relationship, but I wanted new experiences. We truly loved each other and he took a while to get over it. We kept in touch intermittently for awhile, till he found a girl who soon became his girlfriend. At first, I was absurdly jealous, but later I accepted the game was over for me. Since we broke up, I've been going out as often as I can. I've kissed a few guys since then, and I dated one of them for a couple of months but dumped him, too, for similar reasons. Now that guy is in a happy relationship, and he doesn't seem to know I still exist. And me? Absolutely alone and bored: no one to get out with, no kisses, no sex, no nothing.
One day, when I hadn't seen or talked to V in a long time, we started web-chatting. He said he was happy with his new girlfriend. Then we started video-chatting, and soon we were having cam-sex. It was so stimulating that I wondered why we hadn't done it while we were together. Yesterday we played a second round. This time, I suggested we could hook up in person at some point. Against my expectations, he agreed. It's not like we made a date, but I know there's a chance that it could happen, and I'm starting to fantasize about what it would be like.
Now I'm asking myself: do I have to care about his girlfriend's feelings? On one hand, I'm not the one who's being unfaithful. I hardly know her. I definitely don't like her. And I want to get laid, for God's sake!
On the other hand, I have a strong female-solidarity feeling, telling me not to do to others what I don't want to be done to me. In the depths of my heart I believe that she doesn't deserve to be cheated on. I can't help but imagine myself in her place, and I feel terrible. Should I move on?
— The Other Woman
Dear The Other Woman,
You absolutely should care about his girlfriend's feelings, inasmuch as she is a human, and you owe it to other humans to treat them with care. (That line is also an excerpt from my upcoming children's book, Linda the Morality Lemur Goes to the Dentist.) You hit the nail on the head with your "do unto others" comment. Don't be complicit in messy situations.
You should take your role in this seriously, but V should also be drawing boundaries. If he's prioritizing his own bonertime over his girlfriend's feelings, that's bad. Humanity should trump boners, always. (That line is from chapter three, "Linda Gets Percocet.") And while you reason that you aren't the one being unfaithful, you'd be aiding a cheater, and that's not much better.
As for you, I see a few things going on here. You chose to be single, which is great, but being single does involve periods of stone boredom. You signed up for it! Now you're gazing wistfully at the guys you passed up, thinking "What if?" That's perfectly normal. But your loneliness and boredom don't entitle you to meddle in your exes' happy relationships. If you're seriously rethinking the breakup, that's a conversation you should have fully-clothed, in daylight, with no webcam. But if you're just bored and horny, you need to apply that energy elsewhere. Don't break up V's happy relationship because you're feeling restless.
Dear Miss Info,
I am in a horrible mess. My boyfriend of six years and I broke up a few months ago. It was a long time coming, but still a hard decision. After the breakup we continued to hook up and spend a lot of time together. We were basically acting like a couple without the title — until really recently, when I told him we couldn't do this anymore — first because I knew he wouldn't commit to me, and second, because by thas point, I was pretty much done with him too.
I'm friends with his friends and have been hanging out with his circle. I happened to meet a guy within the circle (a new addition) and I'm really into him. He's into me too, and we've been hanging out a bit, flirting pretty innocently. Then last night we were having kind of a moment, and he semi-freaked out and gave me a lecture about the "guy code."
I tried to tell him how over it is with my ex, and that I like him and feel that we deserve a chance together. Then I asked him to kiss me, but he said no and walked away. It was really dramatic, and I kind of expected him to come back and swoop me up, but he didn't.
We texted today, so things are okay between us, but where do we go from here? He's a good guy and I guess I admire his resolve. I also care about my ex and don't want to hurt him. They aren't friends; they just have the same circle of friends. I don't feel like I'm going to ruin anything for either of them. What do I do? I don't want to just walk away from this. It's a rarity for me to be genuinely interested in someone.
While this is a very real problem, it doesn't warrant the kind of drama your new friend seems to be injecting into it. It would be one thing if you were considering dating your ex's roommate, or his brother, or his priest, but you're not. By your description, they're friendly acquaintances at best.
This new guy doesn't want to rock the boat in his new circle of friends, which is understandable. But until he calms down, nothing can happen. You seem to regard your flirtation as no big deal, whereas he views it as a situation deserving of "a lecture on the Guy Code." In short, if he's that uncomfortable about the whole thing, he's going to make a really crappy boyfriend. He needs to be on board — which means open with his friends, which means not hiding you in lockers or trash cans — before he can be worth a damn. That's the Human Code, and it trumps the Guy Code.
As long as you're both kind, discreet, and sensitive to boundaries, your situation shouldn't have to be a star-cross'd lovers kind of deal. What can you do? It sounds like you explained all this, and he still turned you down and walked away. (Cue slow-motion and wind machine.) As long as you're honest and firm, you've done all you can. You can't control how he feels; he'll have to come around on his own.