When should I tell my ex I am seeing someone now?
October 16, 2009 1:31 PM   Subscribe

When should I tell my ex I am seeing someone now?

Story goes...My ex and I broke up over a year ago. He expressed he wanted to remain friends. After months of getting over it I contacted him. I wanted to stay friends. There is just one thing...I booty called him and we hooked up and I told him we could do this more often and he agreed and added "friends first". Since then we haven't hung out as friends or hooked up. I am now seeing someone and not interested in hooking up with the ex, but I do still want to hang out with him. He contacted me several times to get together so my problem is now how?, when? should I tell him that now when I say yes to an invite to hangout with him I won't want to have sex with him. He is not the type of guy that will throw himself on me to try get into my pants, but I don't want him to think I will be jumping his bones when I see him. Should I let him know there won't be hanky panky before I see him over the phone or text, should I wait when we hangout to bring it up or wait til he brings it up and asks me why I haven't tried to get him in bed when we are hanging out?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Do you have mutual friends? Perhaps a bunch of you could get together for a night out, you could bring the new someone, and the ex would get the idea. Of course, this is assuming you are opposed to calling him and simply saying, "Hey, I have a new person in my life." I mean, it's not like you're cheating on him. So, just tell him.
posted by AlliKat75 at 1:39 PM on October 16, 2009

The last time I was in that situation, when I ex and I met up, I leaned in for a kiss and got the awkward pushoff. The night wasn't recoverable. The friendship was, however. Tell the ex beforehand.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:40 PM on October 16, 2009

"Friends first" means "we are going to engage in casual sex without all those pesky emotional strings to get in the way."

When you next see your ex, go on a totally non-sexual meet-up, like getting coffee at noon, taking a walk in the park, whatever. No late movies, no bars, NO DRINKING. If and when he tries to make a move, brush him away politely and say, "Hey, I know we originally started out as a FWB thing, but I've met someone else and I don't want to mess around on the side. As my friend, I hope you understand."

Be honest but not prolix. Don't go into excessive detail, don't answer a bajillion questions about him if the ex asks, and change the topic to something neutral. Even if your ex is sincere about remaining friends, this might hurt more than expected. If he's mad, give him time away from you. If he's still mad, cut him off, because he doesn't want you to be happy and was keeping you around for booty calls. He might not be mad at all, he might even be relieved you found someone else and feel inspired to do the same. You never know with people, but his long-term reaction is a great litmus test to viability of this post-relationship friendship.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:40 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tell the ex beforehand.

Whoops, seconding this. Otherwise the ex feels like they were set up to embarrass themselves when they start presuming you're up for another booty call. Totally forgot about that pit fall.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:42 PM on October 16, 2009

"Should I let him know there won't be hanky panky before I see him...?"

posted by onshi at 1:48 PM on October 16, 2009

Next time he texts you to do something (ignore whatever it is he says and follow script): Hey what's up? Out with my new boyfriend, we're going to go see [Where the Wild Things Are/ Insert movie or dinner or concert here]. We should do lunch sometime!

Here you've established that (1) you currently have a boyfriend, (2) it is no big deal because you're just friends, (3) while you're just friends you really are friends and you've decided to do lunch sometime in the future to talk about this new big thing in your life because that's what friends do. In my personal experience, (3) is often put off for sometime as if there's some sort of unspoken heirarchy so that you know that you are not a potential next boyfriend, but you are a friend, just a friend whose priority takes over the boyfriend.

If he's cool and his response is normal you've established normal boundaries with him. This means if you break up with this boyfriend you can fool around with him again and things won't be weird, or never fool around with him again, the point being that he understands boundaries and is a normal person. If he finds out through a third party or finds out after everyone else it makes it seem like you're hiding something, or that he used you. Be direct but don't make it a big deal.
posted by geoff. at 1:49 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Call him and let him know. It's that easy.
posted by xammerboy at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2009

should read: just a friend whose priority is not over that of the boyfriend.
posted by geoff. at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2009

Next time you talk to him, just say in a matter-of-fact way that, "oh, by the way, I'm seeing someone at the moment, so that means that our current status is friends - no benefits for the time being. Just thought you should know."
posted by The World Famous at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2009 [5 favorites]

I strongly prefer The World Famous's response to geoff.'s ...

It's more straightforward/honest...

I think while geoff. means well in his response, his suggestion has more potential to be viewed as impersonal / rude / hurtful, even if it's not meant to be...

To be frank, geoff's suggestion is a passive-aggressive one... "offhandedly" mentioning the new boyfriend, rather than having the respect (and yes, courage) to be honest/direct like The World Famous suggests...
posted by twiggy at 1:55 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

our current status is friends - no benefits

So, like contractor friends?
posted by Cogito at 1:58 PM on October 16, 2009 [10 favorites]

World Famous has it.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:59 PM on October 16, 2009

Ironmouth is correct that World Famous has it.
posted by davejay at 2:01 PM on October 16, 2009

The World Famous's response would be good if you want to be very suggestive that your current relationship might not last too long and you're open to something with your ex in the future. Otherwise, phrases like "our current status" and "for the time being" are probably best avoided.
posted by Jaltcoh at 2:08 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the etiquette these days is to just change one's Facebook relationship status.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:23 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I've never been in this situation, but I've lived vicariously through a roommate who did!

I don't think there's a way to do this that's not awkward. I think the least awkward way is just to have planned dates with your new BF at the times when your FwB wants to hang out, so you can just text "Oh! I'm going out with BF tonight! I'll call you later!" After a couple of these FwB will hopefully get the hint and then you can hang out with him without worrying about the wrong impression.

But even this is going to be really awkward, so maybe you should just tell him like you're pulling off a band-aid. "By the way, I'm seeing this guy, Jon, and we're exclusive right now. Wanna get some pizza?"

Also, don't be surprised if he can't really handle being friends without the sex-part any more. It's really hard to have sex without any emotional attachment and it might take him a few months to sort those feelings out.
posted by muddgirl at 2:27 PM on October 16, 2009

I don't know where the name "Jon" came from, but it's my Father-in-Law's name and now I'm sort of freaked out.
posted by muddgirl at 2:27 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

From what I've observed, it's probably worth letting the current bf know what's going on if you plan to meet - just to keep things upfront & honest :)
posted by dirm at 2:42 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just drop it. Someone is going to get hurt. Someone will always feel lead on, even if the other person isn't doing it on purpose. There are billions of other people in the world, so you can make new friends, and you probably should.

Note: I'm going through my own ruff spot (and have been for about 3 years now) but as i see myself falling into the same pitfalls and traps of "just friends" "benefited friends" and other stupid "lying to ourselves so we can get off" or get beyond the situation sort of shit that, unless by some horrendous coincidence you are dating his brother and half to try and be friends with him (and even then, stand your effing ground, you don't have to see anyone you don't want to). But i may be bleeding my own life into your question a bit.

Just my suggestion is if you think there may be feelings on anyone's end, leave it. Otherwise you are a bitch for leading him (not that you really are a bitch, but, try making yourself a third party (someone is doing this to your brother for example) and tell someone else, and see what they call the girl). I feel like i have been on almost every side of something like this in the last three years and it sucks to lead someone on when you don't mean to, it sucks to be lead on, and everyone just ends up hurt. Or maybe i am being a little too emo.

If this is a derail or a thread coup, sorry. (also if you were wondering, i just like typing out "effing" and i think it sounds funnier).
posted by djduckie at 2:48 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just tell him you met someone. He should be cool with that.
posted by kathrineg at 3:26 PM on October 16, 2009

"Sure, love to. I'm seeing someone now, but if you just wanna hang out and do friend-stuff that's cool."
posted by rokusan at 4:05 PM on October 16, 2009 [4 favorites]

If he's really your friend, just be honest, right? I'd send an email and just say:

HEY - just so you know - and I'm a bit embarrassed - because of course I don't know if you were even thinking of hooking up, but I'm seeing someone. That said, I wasn't lying when I said I want to really be friends, and if you feel the same way, I'd love to hang out.

there's a slight possibility that he won't be interested after that, but then you know! And if he still does want to spend time together, there's no risk of him embarrassing himself or any unpleasantness.
posted by moxiedoll at 8:24 PM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Please tell him as soon as possible, right off the bat. It will spare you a lot of drama.
Personal anecdote:
My ex neglected to tell me that he was seeing other people until after several 'post-breakup' hookups. In fact, he didn't even explicitly tell me; I found a condom wrapper in his trashcan.

He was my best friend, and if he'd told me about his other relationships beforehand, we'd probably still be friends. We're barely on speaking terms now.

I wasn't mad because he was seeing other people; I was mad because I felt that he was leading me on.

Give your ex the respect he deserves and tell him. It's not fair for him to have inaccurate information about the state of your relationship.
posted by chara at 9:50 PM on October 16, 2009

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