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Exes and D'ohs.
March 28, 2008 3:53 PM   Subscribe

Last night my girlfriend became moderately upset with me because I didn't want to meet her ex-boyfriend. So what?

We were going to a bar to meet some friends. It was expected that he'd be there too. We got there and the table was full. She started catching up with him, at which point the two other friends that came in with us went and found somewhere else to sit. My girlfriend wanted to introduce us but apparently I left for the other table before she had the chance. I told her that's okay, I wasn't too excited about meeting him anyway. I tried to leave it at that.

She says we'd probably like one another. That might be true. I've got nothing personal against this guy, still I feel like I don't want to meet him. Why should I? It might be relevant that she left him to be with me last June.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I suspect you are being tested for your reaction. Or she is trying to show you off and/or make him jealous.

I just don't think it's normal for someone to desire their currents and exes to be pals.

Unless you are misremembering the speed with which you left the table?
posted by gjc at 4:03 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


She's pushing your buttons. Don't play into it. Be courteous, and that's it. If she keeps pulling this sort of crap tell her you don't appreciate her using either of you as leverage against the other one. A larger social situation is fine, but if she keeps setting up small-group encounters for the two of you to meet it is typical manipulation. You have your own friends, you enjoy their company, you are not obliged to play along.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:07 PM on March 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


I agree with Inspector.Gadget. However, given that you were at the bar and he was there, it would have been nice to say hello briefly, then go hang out with your other friends.

My rule of thumb is to keep different relationships separate. I don't like thinking about my SO's past relationships, so I don't bring up my own previous relationships, and I certainly don't introduce my current girlfriend to any previous ones. That is a sure recipe for jealousy.
posted by number9dream at 4:15 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Was he a big part of her life? Is he still part of her life? She probably just wants to share that part of herself with you.

She cares/cared about him. If your relationship is serious, and their relationship was serious, I don't think it is at all unreasonable for her to wonder what you'd think of each other. Her comment about you probably liking one another is sort of irrelevant; I doubt she actually WANTS you two to be friends. (Would you want her to be friends with your ex?) She just wants him to know that she has moved on to dating a great guy, and she wants to hear from you that you at least mildly agree with her-- that the ex was an OK guy. Although, of course, you're much taller/smarter/richer/handsomer/better/etc.

If she actually wants you two to be friends, that's weird. But otherwise, I think you should act nice for one evening, make small talk with the guy, and forget about him.
posted by samthemander at 4:20 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with samthemander. Some people like to continue friendships with people they have broken up with. She probably just wants everybody to be okay with each other. Don't assume bad faith on her part.
posted by loiseau at 4:41 PM on March 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, your discomfort with meeting him suggests discomfort or insecurity about your relationship. I think you should put on your big-boy pants and just treat it like meeting another of her acquaintances.
posted by loiseau at 4:45 PM on March 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


Another possibility is that since she still moves in social circles that include him, she doesn't want things to get weird, and introducing you two means there is no-longer any tension for her about the unresolved social wildcard of a night out being complicated by X meeting Y.

An example, an ex of mine tried to introduce her new boyfriend to me, he didn't want to meet me. Soon, it was awkward if she wanted to be at a gathering where I would be, because she either had to ditch him, or get him to meet me as he avoided anything where I would be. In order to avoid the arguing that would ensue, she was soon contriving excuses to go out with people without him if I might be there, which he in turn decided was evidence that she was cheating on him with me, and it all got very sour. You don't sound like that kind of insecure moron, but your girlfriend might still want you two to do the rites that allow you and him to coexist at social outings without her being stuck as the go-between.
posted by -harlequin- at 4:51 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


She might be trying to push your buttons, true. If she has tendencies toward being manipulative it's a definite possibility.

But I agree with the opinion that she just wants everyone to get along. Both of you are still part of her life, though to different extents, and she probably wants you both to decide for yourselves that this is okay. "You'd probably like one another" is not encouragement for you two to be BFFs, but rather a "hey, you shouldn't hate this guy."

Not wanting to meet someone is pretty drama-y. She's trying to extend an olive branch to you both and you're not taking it. You might not be thrilled to make his acquaintance, but it certainly doesn't sound like there's any concrete reason for you to hate him or feel threatened by him.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:18 PM on March 28, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's one thing to not want to go out of your way to meet someone, but if someone is already there, it's considered courteous for a person to introduce two people that she knows who do not know each other. If your girlfriend had acted differently, I can imagine the exact same situation creating a different AskMe: "I went out to dinner with my girlfriend, and her ex-boyfriend showed up. She spent the night talking to him and never once tried to introduce us. What the hell?" Either way, someone's upset. At least in your situation, it's all out in the open.

If you don't want to hang out with the guy, that makes perfect sense. But c'mon, you gotta at least get introduced the next time that you are both at the same place at the same time. Otherwise you run the risk of becoming some weird paranoid guy. After you've been introduced you're under no obligation to become friends, acquaintances, or anything else.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:21 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


If your girlfriend and the ex run in the same social circles it's inevitable that you two will be bumping into each other from time to time. She's probably hoping that she could introduce you and that you would at least be comfortable around each other when you bump into each other. I don't think she's trying to push your buttons or make him jealous. I think she's just trying to be an adult about the situation and handle things up front and with maturity.

My husband is friends with some of my exes and vice versa. We're adults in a committed, stable relationship. I don't see what's so odd about being friendly with people that we both know and bump into from time to time.

However, since you have absolutely no desire to meet him then you shouldn't feel that you are obligated to act overly friendly towards him. The best way for you to handle this is just meet him, be civil and then go about your business.
posted by GlowWyrm at 5:29 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


We were going to a bar to meet some friends. It was expected that he'd be there too

So, he's apparently part of her shared circle of friends. This means you're probably going to be bumping into him again and it sounds like she's trying to keep the peace between everyone. I don't see what's so wrong about that and it certainly doesn't necessarily mean that she's "pushing your buttons." Also, you knew he was going to be there beforehand and agreed to go so it's not like you just happened to run into him and she tried to force him on you.

She says we'd probably like one another.

Is this all she said? Or did she make a big scene and start a fight with you over it? If she tried to start an argument then I agree you might have an issue to deal with but if it was just, "I think you guys would like each other," and then everybody moved on I think you're being a little bit childish about the whole situation.

Just explain to her that you don't feel comfortable hanging out with guy and then let it go. If she refuses to respect your feelings, then maybe you should have a more serious talk about boundaries and manipulation. But examine your own insecurites first and make sure you're not making this into a bigger deal than it needs to be.

(And next time, tell her you don't want to meet him BEFORE you go somewhere where you know he's also going to be.)
posted by LeeJay at 5:32 PM on March 28, 2008


Agreed, this sounds like no big deal. Just be civil and move on.
posted by chips ahoy at 5:51 PM on March 28, 2008


All you had to do was say "hi." She wasn't expecting you two to slice open your fingers and become blood brothers or anything.

Unwillingness to just say hello makes you antisocial at best, some sort of unpleasant at worst.
posted by sageleaf at 5:53 PM on March 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've got nothing personal against this guy, still I feel like I don't want to meet him. Why should I?

Why shouldn't you?

Don't make drama where none need exist.
posted by flabdablet at 7:47 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"That might be true. I've got nothing personal against this guy, still I feel like I don't want to meet him. Why should I?"

So you won't talk to the guy because he's part of her romantic past. She might interpret this as you saying that you're uncomfortable with a part of her life. In other words, this might be about her more that it's about him.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:06 PM on March 28, 2008


Jesus, I'm sorry, but she is being totally inconsiderate here. Truthfully. I would just explain it this way - "Well, see, that guy? He had his penis in your vagina. Me, I'm presently placing my penis in your vagina. That guy? I don't want to meet someone else and be friends with a guy who had his penis in your vagina. Maybe it's just me. Please respect that."

That's how I would deal with anyway.
posted by bradth27 at 8:39 PM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also agree with samthemander.

You probably appeared huffy and obstinate by leaving the table so quickly, and it might have hurt her feelings. Basically, you created drama where there needn't have been any. You also sound potentially insecure due to your reaction.

You knew he'd be there. A simple hello would have probably sufficed.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:19 PM on March 28, 2008


I agree that you're blowing this out of proportion. If he's part of her circle of friends then it would be nice if you could at least be civil. Otherwise every get-together will be awkward for her.

I've met some of my husband's exes, and he's met some of mine. One of my exes even attended our wedding since we're still friendly. It's only as big a deal as you make of it.
posted by christinetheslp at 9:25 PM on March 28, 2008


I agree with Bradh27, you might want to phrase it a little differently.

Also she left him for you and now she wants you to meet, that kind of strange...
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:23 PM on March 28, 2008


she wants you to validate her relationship with him. even though it didn't last, it was a part of her life and she wants to share it with you. that's all. you don't have to be pals. she was probably feeling guilty, anyway, and thought that if you guys got along, it would somehow make it better.
posted by thinkingwoman at 11:00 PM on March 28, 2008


Really it all depends on how quickly you left. If you stood around next to her for 5-10 minutes watching the two of them chat, then at that point it's understandable that you left before being introduced. But as others have said, if you have a chance to shake the guy's hand and say hi before walking away, there's no reason not to.
posted by creasy boy at 12:54 AM on March 29, 2008


Well, for the insecure brigade telling you she's manipulating you, I would respectfully point out that she's waited 10 months to do so. That patience is not really consistent with the manipulative mindset.

I think ~harlequin~ and loiseau nailed it. If you see him around ocassionally it would be good to briefly say hello.
posted by Wilder at 2:56 AM on March 29, 2008


follow-up from the OP "I see that I was being difficult and uncooperative in not going to meet this guy. I'm going to apologize to the girlfriend, and the next time he's around I'll make sure to introduce myself. Thanks for the counsel."
posted by jessamyn at 4:03 AM on March 29, 2008


"Well, see, that guy? He had his penis in your vagina. Me, I'm presently placing my penis in your vagina. That guy? I don't want to meet someone else and be friends with a guy who had his penis in your vagina. Maybe it's just me. Please respect that."

That's some incredible bullshit. She's not asking for a threesome, so I hope everyone can leave their penises out of the discussion. To have the current boyfriend blow off the old boyfriend doesn't only diss that guy, but communicates to the other people there at the gathering that the girlfriend is choosing to be with a guy who is high maintenance and chooses to sulk rather than deal with the unpleasant things all the rest of us suck up and deal with. It's embarrassing for her. If he can't bear the thought of being nice to this guy, he should at least try to do it for his girlfriend.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:06 AM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Glad you sorted everything out, OP.

As a quick anecdote, Mr. Arishaun was in your very same position. I left my then-boyfriend to be with him. Now, to clarify, the relationship with that ex wasn't really serious. We were together, but the option to have a painless breakup was there if we ever saw it wasn't working. That's how I've always worked it out in previous relationships. As a result, a nice chunk of my circle of friends comprises of ex-boyfriends who are a regular part of my life.

To make a long story short, I broke up with the ex a week before New Years Eve. I told him all about Mr. Arishaun and then promptly invited him to the New Years Eve David Lee Roth gig we were planning on attending. The ex showed and the boys met. Four years and a marriage later (the ex's), we are all still friends. I talk to the ex on an almost daily basis via IM. Mr. Arishaun and the ex play Orange Box and other games on the PS3 via network.

Though I'm glad it worked out that way, I would not have been hurt if they had just met and decided that they didn't want to be friends. My goal in introducing them was not for them to be Best Friends Forever. It was simply to have everyone know who everyone is so there would be no secrets. I have a feeling this is what your girlfriend was trying to do. You are a lucky man, indeed. :-)
posted by arishaun at 12:33 PM on March 29, 2008


Jesus, I'm sorry, but she is being totally inconsiderate here. Truthfully. I would just explain it this way - "Well, see, that guy? He had his penis in your vagina. Me, I'm presently placing my penis in your vagina. That guy? I don't want to meet someone else and be friends with a guy who had his penis in your vagina. Maybe it's just me. Please respect that."

I think that the natural reaction to this would be, uhh, it's not all about your dick.
posted by desuetude at 2:30 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree with Desuetude -- it's pretty gross to think of your girlfriend as the place you're putting your dick, and her ex as the guy who previously used to put his dick there.
posted by loiseau at 4:15 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Really? I just asked my wife, and she said that she doesn't mind being referred to as a "dick ashtray" at all.

Seriously, this is not an unusual reaction. A lot of guys, including me, don't particularly care to know who has been there before - and certainly don't want to be friends with them. It happens.
posted by bradth27 at 10:35 PM on March 29, 2008


bradth27, not wishing to be acquainted with those who previously had an intimate relationship with your wife is completely understandable. Describing this discomfort in a way that reduces the role of the woman as merely a hole for a dick is a pretty offensive characterization. Especially under the guise of giving advice.
posted by desuetude at 12:34 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


[please take this dick derail to email or meta from this point forward, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:13 PM on March 30, 2008


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