How do you deal with seeing your ex with their new lady/dude?
September 17, 2014 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Me and my ex are still friends, we still talk and we're friendly with each other but he never gave me a reason not to be anyway. We just started talking again a few weeks ago after being broken up for 2 years.

I pretty much stopped hanging around a lot of the same people he hung around so we wouldn't see each other and my feelings wouldn't come rushing back. But since we started talking he's told me i should come to game night's on Tuesdays and i did last night but i kind of got a surprise i didn't want to see.

We were playing a game and my ex joined us after awhile and the only chair that was open was the one next to me. About an hour later some random girl i've never met came in and walks up behind him and puts her arms around him and hugs and him and kisses him all right in front of me and starts going on and on about how unbearable this is. This is just kind of new to me, should i just do my best to ignore them when they're together and all over each other? I don't want to just stop going because i enjoy everyone else's company.

And maybe it's just me and my way of thinking but i never got into the whole pda thing besides holding hands or if no one was around hugging and kissing sure. I was always shy and awkward with that sort of thing anyway though.
posted by earthquakeglue to Human Relations (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think that if, after two years, you still don't like seeing your ex with someone else, this friendship is not meant to be. And that's perfectly OK. You don't have to be friends with your ex.
posted by Sara C. at 2:26 PM on September 17, 2014 [32 favorites]

When you say she started going on and on about how unbearable it was, what are you talking about?
posted by corb at 2:29 PM on September 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

I had a bit of a come-to-jesus talk with one of my own exes about his own PDAs with/mushy talk about his subsequent girlfriend, but that was only because a) he and I were now co-workers, b) I was kind of hung up on him still; but most importantly, c) because he and I both were invested in making a friendship work, and trusted each other enough to have those kinds of conversations.

It worked out for us - but it was NOT easy for a while. And he and I had a much more stable friendship than it sounds like you have with your ex.

If you want to be with the rest of the gang, maybe take him aside and ask him to talk to this girl to ask HER to cool it a bit, and if that doesn't happen then maybe take someone else in the group aside and ask them to give you a heads-up when your ex is inviting his girlfriend along. But you don't necessarily have to just sit there and suffer in silence.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:31 PM on September 17, 2014

i never got into the whole pda thing besides holding hands or if no one was around hugging and kissing sure.

It's totally fine if this is where your comfort zones are, but it's worthwhile to differentiate "This makes me feel weird." to "My feelings are normative in this context." I also don't understand your statement. What was unbearable?

I'm basically with Sara C. I know that this is a new friendship with you after a long time of not really anything after some time of being a couple there may be some adjusting but part of the adjusting is figuring out how it's going to work. If this was him saying "I want to work on a friendship with you" then it might be worth saying "Hey maybe game nights with your super demonstrative gf are not the way to get started with this" If this was him being more passively "Come on by if you want to hang" then you sort of have to play it like it lays and decide if you are okay with this or not.

Again, your feelings about people being publicly affectionate are fine, but shouldn't have a lot of bearing on anything other than your decision if this is a thing you think you'd like to continue. My feeling, based on nothing other than what you've written, is there may be some weirdness on her part too (if you guys had a long and.or serious relationship she might feel weird about meeting you too) and that may have been part of the heavy-pda that you saw. Or they're just like that in which case if you like the group I'd just ignore and keep attending if it's not a dealbreaker discomfort for you.

One of the hardest things to deal with, for me, about not being in a relationship with someone, besides just the general companionship, is not being a team with that person in working out differences like this and figuring out where those boundaries lie with friends-not-lovers. Only you know what your current relationship with the guy is like but I'd try to give it some time and see if it gets easier and see if you can sort out what sort of friendship you want and what the two of you want to see if it can work.If you had a bad breakup or a past bad experience, you may decide that this isn't worth it. If he's someone who has things you find valuable as a friend, you may find it more worthwhile.
posted by jessamyn at 2:39 PM on September 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

You have already gotten some really good feedback. Additionally, I want to address this remark:

I pretty much stopped hanging around a lot of the same people he hung around so we wouldn't see each other and my feelings wouldn't come rushing back.

It sounds to me like you aren't really over him. I think you should start a journal and work on that.

My oldest son once said something really insightful to me. He said that my divorce was amicable in part because I had already gotten over my marriage/ my husband before I filed for divorce. He said most people get divorced and THEN start trying to make their peace with the fact that the relationship really doesn't work. I got resolution first and then filed. A few years ago, when I casually learned my ex was remarried already, I was pretty meh. She can totally have him. I wouldn't want him back if he were the last man on earth.

It sounds to me like you are still kind of protecting your feelings. Let me suggest you do the opposite and kind of seek to actively hunt them down and murder any remaining warm fuzzy romantic feelings you have leftover. Letting these residual feelings live on is not going to make your life any better.
posted by Michele in California at 2:43 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: @Sara C.: Maybe not, but then how do i tolerate seeing him with other ladies when we have the same friends and there's always that chance she'll be there too?

@Corb: To be honest i'm not even really sure, i'm just assuming she was waiting until the game night was over so they could go do something maybe. I wasn't positive on the context of it since i was playing a game and half listening to what she was saying.

@EmpressCalliygos: I may end up asking someone to give me a heads up but even then she may just come randomly if she knows he'll be there.

@Jessamyn: I don't think he's even told her we used to date since she asked him what my name was. But, i'll do like you said and just give it some time and figure out what i want out of this.
posted by earthquakeglue at 2:45 PM on September 17, 2014

Well, she's not "some random girl" if she's his girlfriend.

I think you're suggesting that you had no clue this girlfriend existed. How good of a friend is this guy, if he 1) didn't tell you about his new girlfriend, and 2) decided the best way to deal with imparting this info, was to throw you both in a social situation where you'd both be staring territorial daggers at each other?
posted by Coatlicue at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

If you really don't have any residual feelings for him, then this is just a natural normal situation that will get better when you get used to it. If you are really truly just friends now, make sure you get a chance to get to know her a bit and the awkwardness will fade after time.
posted by greta simone at 2:53 PM on September 17, 2014

If you really can't tolerate seeing him with anyone else in a casual social situation where you guys aren't interacting directly, it is time to get some new friends.

Alternately, why not create your own gathering or outing where you invite only the people from that social circle you want to actively maintain friendships with? That way the two of them are guaranteed not to show up.
posted by Sara C. at 3:12 PM on September 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I also don't understand how it is this guy's girlfriend shows up and he's never mentioned her to you before!

I'm calling shenanigans.

That should be the last time you see him. Or talk to him. You have nothing to prove, but man, is he a jerk.

Sometimes people do stuff like this, and it makes no sense, but yep, they definitely did it.

There is ZERO chance it was OK for him to invite you to a game night without somehow casually mentioning he has a committed girlfriend.


That he did not politely introduce you w/out being asked is 100% yuck.

You know you're cool. You don't need to jump through these emotional hoops.

Go find other friends and other activities.
posted by jbenben at 4:32 PM on September 17, 2014 [7 favorites]

This is all kinds of fucked up. First of all, this guy doesn't want to be your friend. A friend wouldn't put you AND his new girlfriend in a situation designed to make one or both of you uncomfortable.

This guy is playing a game, and he seems to thrive on drama. Was your relationship full of situations where your emotions were in upheaval and your BF tried to make you feel like you were over-reacting about things? Because, guess what, you're right back in it.

WHO plays kissy-face with their girlfriend, in front of an ex at fucking trivia?

I'd do a fast fade with Mr. "I've got a new girlfriend and she's AWWWEEESSOOMMME."

If he texts you, ignore. If he calls, answer but get off quickly, "I'm late for an appointment, I've got to run." If he asks you out to other events, be busy. Don't confront him, he lives for that shit.

You are much too amazing to be bothered with a dude who hasn't progressed beyond high school.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:48 PM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Honestly i was taking up for him at first since he usually was an okay dude and he must have a reason for all this but you've pointed out the obvious here. I wouldn't think it would be that hard to briefly mention to both of us that i might be showing up to these board game gatherings, and to me saying he's started to see someone and she'll be there. Heck, he could have just texted it to me.

To be honest here he looks a lot worse off now then when i was dating him. I'm not putting his gf down i just mean he doesn't have a job, he wears sweatpants every day, stopped going to school, and often looks like he hasn't combed his hair in weeks. He looks like a train wreck, i don't know what happened to him.

I just hope she doesn't find out i'm his ex through someone else, if it was me i'd feel pretty bad having to find out through someone else and thinking it was just a friend all along.

@Ruthless Bunny: He never did crap like this when we were dating, he acted a lot better around me and didn't do all this kissy stuff in front of other people. We may have held hands on the way to the car but unless we were in his house away from everyone else we didn't do anything like that.
posted by earthquakeglue at 5:55 PM on September 17, 2014

Not sure why you think he should not have a gf after 2 years or that you should have the option of tolerating him with her. It is his life, you need to figure out why you are so disturbed about seeing him with another woman and are still focused on that.
posted by jellyjam at 9:32 PM on September 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

"Not sure why you think he should not have a gf after 2 years or that you should have the option of tolerating him with her. It is his life, you need to figure out why you are so disturbed about seeing him with another woman and are still focused on that."

He invited the OP to an interactive event, then blindsided the OP with info he casually could have relayed AND acted like he did not invite her once his current SO arrived.

I can't think of a bigger "mind fuck" for the OP. His behavior was ridiculous at best, but more likely, extremely narcissistic and purposefully hurtful.

Please don't turn that back on the OP. She doesn't deserve it. Going through it and having to parse such unexpected weirdness at a friendly social gathering was bad enough.

I would not want to accept any further invites from someone so damaged that common politeness failed them where I was concerned.

And that's without the backstory of these two being ex's.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 PM on September 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

What your ex did was perfectly planned cruelty. In the awareness that you still have feelings for him, he acted deliberately to hurt you. He invited you, not the other way around. It was a setup. Why would he do that? Plainly he still has feelings for you too, feelings which have resolved into resentment. What you say about his looking like a "train wreck" would seem to support this view.

Where is all this coming from? Why did he set out to hurt you, and why were you hurt? It could well be that one of you has, or both of you have, unspoken hopes of getting back together. Do you still want him, or not?

That's something to think about, but either way, I would suggest you forget about being friends. Cut him out of your life, completely. Never see him, never speak to him, never email him. Don't speak to mutual friends either. Wait for what life might bring you elsewhere.
posted by Pechorin at 2:39 AM on September 18, 2014

"Me and my ex are still friends, we still talk and we're friendly with each other" and "We just started talking again a few weeks ago after being broken up for 2 years" seem incompatible to me. The two of you didn't speak at all for two years, and you've just been talking for a few weeks, so you aren't still friends, you very recently decided to try to start a friendship. Did he get in touch with you, or did you get in touch with him? Because if he initiated contact, then told you to game night, and then completely blindsided you by making out all over the place with a new girlfriend that he never mentioned, I don't think he's really trying to be your friend, he's just wanted to throw it in your face that he has a new girlfriend. That's not the recipe for friendship. Do you want to be friends with someone who behaves that way?
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 5:48 AM on September 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

You guys haven't spoke for two years. You have started talking (very causally it seems) a few weeks ago, and he invites you to a gathering. I'm not sure when or why he was obligated to tell you he had a girlfriend, but, it's been two years. Did you really need him to alert you to this possibility?

Sorry, but the outrage above makes no sense to me. He didn't do anything wrong. You didn't even speak for two years, you're not friends, you are friendly.

He never did crap like this when we were dating, he acted a lot better around me and didn't do all this kissy stuff in front of other people.

Every relationship is different. It doesn't mean there is a problem with his current relationship, or that he wasn't really into his one with you. If you are judging how he conducts his current relationship in this way, you are not actually over him and should stay away.

Maybe not, but then how do i tolerate seeing him with other ladies when we have the same friends and there's always that chance she'll be there too?

You didn't speak to each other for two years, so avoiding him is obviously not an actual problem.

You stumbled into an awkward situation. That's part of life. Stop figuring out how to blame someone and just move on. This towering outrage people want you to feel is no good for you.
posted by spaltavian at 6:05 AM on September 18, 2014 [16 favorites]

Any reason to think he assumed you knew about the girlfriend? Do you not hang out with but talk to the game night friends and other friends?

He may be playing games. But he may have spent two years being aware that OP was getting information about him here and there from mutual friends.

So, OP, I think seeing the actual fact of him having a life without you was rough. If you think he could reasonably have assumed that you knew had had a GF, or could have honestly thought that after two years you wouldn't care, you can try again and see if seeing him as a completely separate person becomes easier as you become accustomed to it.

It might not, though. And if you think he's a drama lama, just don't be friends with him.

Are there other people in the game group who you are not particularly friendly with? Make him one of them.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:40 AM on September 18, 2014

Response by poster: @ Pechorin: I'm honestly not sure on why he's doing it but i think i just decided to forget about all this stuff with him and me for so long it's finally catching up with me. I would like to give it another go but not like this.

@ Enchanting Grasshopper: I got in touch with him first just asking how he was via email, then we saw each other for the first time about 2 weeks ago hanging out with mutual friends at the park which is where he said i should come by and play some board games.

@Lesser Shrew: Nope, i didn't know he had one until the other night when she showed up. Oh yeah, i mean i see them once a week just to play games depending on my work schedule and i have a few other friends outside of them i do things with sometimes. I actually never asked anyone about what he was doing from mutual friends.
posted by earthquakeglue at 9:28 AM on September 18, 2014

For all the people saying he should have said he had a girlfriend... they've been broken up for two years. I think that's way past the statute of limitations for needing a heads up from your ex that they might be dating someone. After two years you just ASSUME they're dating someone. OP, if you're still hung up on him romantically after that long, that's on you, not him. You're still framing things as you + him, when at this point it's her + him and you're the one who is "some random girl." If it's uncomfortable for you that he's dating someone, you might need to step back again, because if you were really ready to be friends with him seeing him with someone else wouldn't bother you any more than seeing any of your other friends with a girlfriend.
posted by MsMolly at 10:12 AM on September 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

There's also at least a fair chance that her actions were performative. She shows up, doesn't know who you are, but knows he's sitting next to you and talking to you. Her doing the PDAs maybe had more the flavor of pissing on her territory rather than anything else.
posted by corb at 2:36 PM on September 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

If it's been two years, and you see mutual friends weekly when your schedule permits, he could reasonably think you knew he had a serious GF.

You know him better than we do. From the facts you've given, it's entirely possible he thought you either knew or no longer care about his romantic situation and thought that by reaching our you were signaling that you are ready to be friends.

If you think that may be the case, perhaps you can ease back into seeing him around and being friendly.

If you think he interpreted your contact as a sign that he still has power over you and orchestrated the whole thing so he could enjoy being the center of attention, then avoid him and be glad you are not with him.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:19 AM on September 19, 2014

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