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So My Ex is Dating Someone New

January 24, 2012

It’s not the first time; he’s dated a handful of women since we broke up, it has been three years after all. The first time he told me he was in love with someone else, I missed work for a week, because I couldn’t stop crying. A broken heart is normal, it happens all the time, but to make you really understand why it hurt so much I’d have to write the whole story from beginning to end and that might take forever, so for now I’ll leave it at that. The first time he told me he loved someone else hurt like hell. The second time wasn’t as bad, although I pretty much forbade him to tell me anything about her.

It might not be cool to censor your friends like that, because that’s what we are, friends, but I didn’t want my mind to turn against me with thoughts of how amazing she was and how nice he was to her when I felt like I had never had that privilege.

We have a strange relationship this ex, this friend, and I. We live in different parts of the country, we haven’t seen each other in over three years, but yet we love each other and we communicate all the time. On a weekly basis. We send each other presents, spend hours on the phone, and tell each other how much we care all the time.

A few days ago, when he told me he was dating someone… I wasn’t sure how to react. I joked and said: “I guess that means we can’t have phone sex anymore.” He agreed, but when I started to moan on the phone he didn’t exactly tell me to stop. I don’t know why I did it… maybe my ego was hurt and I wanted to test his resolve. See if I could seduce him even though we were miles apart. He didn’t participate, not exactly, but he stayed on the phone. I asked him if his dick was hard, and he told me he wouldn’t say, because that would be participating, adding that I probably already knew the answer to that question anyhow.

I was touching myself all the while reminding him about all the times we had shared together. The way it felt when we first kissed, the thing he said to me the first time he smelt my hair. I felt guilty and a little foolish, but he did participate, at least a little, he asked if I had just taken a shower and if I was all groomed; my hair long and sleek the way he likes it. Then he said something, I’m not sure what, I can’t remember, but it upset me and stopped me in my tracks.

I was silent over the phone, wondering what the hell I was doing and how I could change my mood so we could have a normal conversation and move past it all. I prompted him to talk about something, anything else, so I could stop feeling like a rock, because that’s how I felt; closed-up and hard.

He started talking about the book he’s reading, and we laughed and regained some sort of flow in our conversation, but I couldn’t let it go, not really. You see, I want him to love me, to want me, even though we’re not together. It’s completely selfish, but it’s true. I don’t begrudge him his relationship, like he said he has needs and I’m happy for him, and I’m glad he’s with someone even though he likes her music just to be nice and he hates the way she talks during movies. I just want him to like me more. How sad, how fucked up?

It’s completely selfish, and vain, and fucked up that I derive pleasure out of the fact that I think I’m more attractive than her (because of course I’ve seen her Facebook profile) and I feel like a wretched person for even thinking that. I’m sure she’s a nice person, that’s she’s great, and amazing, and nice and all that, but I don’t want to lose my place in his heart.

When we got off the phone, everything was cool. We were both in a good mood. He was going to take a shower and I told him he could think of me moaning while he was in there and since he was going to be alone it wouldn’t be “participating” as he put it. Clearly, it was an attempt on my part to stay on his mind, but didn’t mind, he laughed and said he would think about it.

It’s confusing, because he’s dating someone else and he loves her, I assume, but then some days he sends me an email out of the blue telling me he hasn’t had a good laugh since he’s talked to me, or that I’m the person in the world who knows him the best and how special that is, etc.

I fell asleep after our phone conversation and woke up around 6am feeling wretched. All these emotions came up, I was practically crafting a novel in my head, so I got up and started writing him an email.

You know how they say you should never drunk dial? Well, I think you should never cry and press send. Anything you write in that state is bound to be over-dramatic and barely makes any sense. I feel like posting it here for you guys, but I’ve already written so much and I kid you not my email was basically a novella.

I did however forward a copy to my friend L., I’m not sure why, maybe because I wanted a witness to all my crazy and I knew that she would understand. Among all her good advice and commiseration, she threw in a little tough love (none of which I begrudge her):

Here’s a moment of a little tough love: he’s using you and has been for a long time. I think he’s an addiction for you.

It might seem like an odd thing to do, compare your feelings to an addiction, but I have yet to see anything that XXXXX offers you in return that remotely resembles what you offer him. In point form you offer him:

  • complete and total understanding, even if it’s at your expense
  • unconditional love
  • constant support for absolutely nothing in return
  • accepting his love life, even if it goes beyond you and to another woman

And he offers you:

  • conditional love, when it suits him
  • whatever is left behind after he gives himself to other women
  • a lack of compassion for your feelings
  • no support
  • sexual romantic feelings that are not supported by real-relationship things, like a physical presence, understanding, patience, sacrifice, pain, commitment, loyalty

Olga, you deserve so much more!

Her email was much longer than that, but in this context, I think those are the most salient points. I deserve more, that’s for sure. Not that I deserve more than him per se, because I maintain that we are good friends and he’s a great guy, but I do deserve to be in a relationship with someone who will give back what I’m so willing to give, which to put it plainly is unconditional love.

For those of you who are interested and have read this far (haha), my ex, my friend, responded to my long emotional tirade with the following email (again edited for length):

I’m not upset about your emotional tirade, it’s important to me. You totally do have a special place in my heart that no one else has, it’s true. It makes me sad when I read about how I disappointed you and hurt your feelings and confused you. I was confused too. It makes me sad…. all I can do is tell you that I will never let you go, and that our friendship means a hell of a lot to me. Sometimes I think that I made a bad choice and things would have been great for us, sometimes I think that our relationship now is something even more than what it would have been if I hadn’t made that choice….

Maybe that’s all I was looking for, some affirmation of my worth in his eyes, and maybe that’s enough, but I can’t help wondering how someone, anyone, manages this kind of friendship, where you’re so close to someone you’re friends and more than that all at the same time. It’s a strange relationship, and difficult to manage at times, especially when my ego and insecurities gets in the way, but I’m determined to figure it all out. Who knows what the future holds for any of us. You can’t just give up on someone because it’s hard sometimes. Like he said in his email, I hold a special place in his heart that no one else has and so does he in mine (it doesn’t have to mean anything beyond that). I just wish I didn’t need to be reminded of that quite so often.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. --o-- permalink
    January 24, 2012 2:50 pm

    DTMFA. Do you really need this kind of friendship? It costs you so much… In my experience, post-romance friendships only rarely work out. It took me a long time to get rid of mine but my life has been so free, easy, and open ever since. I have more time for my real friends. I made space for the love of my life to enter into it, and he is way more to me than my ‘good friend’ ex ever was…

  2. January 24, 2012 3:03 pm

    Ah, I had to Google DTMFA, thankfully urban dictionary came to the rescue. That made me laugh. In regards to what you said, I don’t know. Maybe you’re right. At the moment I’m determined to stick with it, I can’t bare the thought of ending a friendship when there are all these what ifs… and I don’t mean what if we get back together, because that ship sailed a long time ago, but more like what if by walking away I’d be walking away from one of the most meaningful friendships in my life? What if it gets easier? Bah, who knows… clearly I’m stubborn, and confused…

    It always amazes me how often people walk away from a relationship when it gets hard… I mean, aren’t you supposed to stay in it and try to make things work? Isn’t loving someone enough? But maybe those people have the right idea; loving themselves enough to walk away, but I can never figure out when that moment is. Think of all those broken hearted couples… what if they had stuck it out just for one more month and then everything would have been okay… or maybe I’ve just fooling myself to think that way. I don’t know.

    I’m glad things worked out for the better for you though and your particular situation.

  3. January 24, 2012 5:04 pm

    Oh my goodness, this sounds very unhealthy. I would urge you to break it off. It’s really not friendship, but a zombie relationship. Exes can be friends under the following circumstances:
    -There was a long break in contact (preferably years), which gave both parties the chance to really move on emotionally. It also helps if they’re a continent apart and at least one of them is married. Neither of the exes wants to be together any more, they just enjoy talking from time to time.
    – The relationship was never serious or damaging, and breakup was mutual.
    Just my two cents, I’m no relationship expert, but I’ve had some experiences with exes and friendship and I’ve found this to be true.
    Seriously, the more I read your post the more this relationship seems like a gangrenous limb that has to be CUT OFF.

  4. January 24, 2012 5:34 pm

    Yikes, that’s so definitive. Maybe you’re both right and I’m just deluding myself, but I keep wanting to find excuses. I know that a lot of what I said in this post is unhealthy, but some of those things, like insecurity, needing validation, jealousy, etc, are issues that belong to me and have nothing to do with him, but are manifesting themselves in this relationship. It’s not like what I’ve written here is a constant…. Bah, what do I know, I can’t see this situation clearly. If this were happening to a friend, I’d probably tell her/him/they to get as far away as possible from it all. Still I can’t help but feel like there’s something important and special that I shouldn’t give up on here.

  5. January 24, 2012 6:13 pm

    I sympathize, I really do. I’ve been in the situation of thinking I had something special, unable to cut it off even though the official relationship was long since over. That, your obvious suffering, and the evidence you present are why I’m telling you so strongly to give up. You’re blaming yourself for “having issues”, when really, the issue is that he’s making you feel like shit and you can’t let go. You analyze quite clearly what you give him and what he gives you. Like an addiction, every time you interact with him you’re pulling yourself back in to an unhealthy dynamic.
    You have strong feelings for him. Saying “just dump him and find somebody better” is a lot more easily said than done. But that’s exactly why a total break is necessary. I think you’re a good-looking, intelligent, fun gal who can find someone who makes her feel happy, loved and secure. Sometimes we ladies have so many bad experiences with men we think that’s all that’s out there. I’m glad I have a great dad, which always gave me a glimmer of hope for a decent relationship in the future. Now I have a guy who would never toy with me like Mr. Gangrenous Limb did. My only regret is the time and energy I wasted on that guy.

  6. January 24, 2012 7:00 pm

    You deserve so much more.

  7. January 26, 2012 8:59 am

    I’m sorry but it’s just not right that you struggle like this because of him.

    It may well be unintentional, I have no idea, but even though you two broke up (it sounds like he left you), through his words he is not letting you go. If he left you and you had a hard time letting him go, then that creates a vicious circle. It’s a blurred relationship.

    Maybe he doesn’t know how to let you go. Sometimes people have to ask to be let go. Sometimes you have to go cold turkey and say, you know what, even though I keep going back to it, this isn’t good for me.

    Maybe he’s taking so much room in your emotional self that the bar for someone else to take over the sweet spot in your heart is just too high. You have to create a distance, willfully, to make room for other things and other people to become meaningful.

    I hope all the comments help you figure it out.

    Take care.

  8. January 26, 2012 1:36 pm

    Thanks for all your concern and compassion everyone. It constantly amazes me how virtual strangers (or at least people I’ve never actually meet.. well I’ve meet some of you) can be so kind.

  9. January 27, 2012 10:48 am

    Olga, you are being held emotionally hostage by this person. That’s not a friendship, and you know it. You ask “What if it gets easier?” I would ask: What if it never does, because he likes the power he holds over you, manipulating the way you feel and stringing you along, even though he has met someone else? (Also, what kind of guy disses his new girlfriend to his ex? A MANIPULATIVE ONE, that’s who. Real men defend their lovers, especially to exes.)

    If someone is your friend they act like it. He is not acting like it. Maybe he never did, based on what you said about “how nice he was to her when I felt like I had never had that privilege.” Why would you want someone like that for a friend? He is only nice to you when it’s convenient for him.

    I agree with your friend’s point about him giving you “whatever is left behind after he gives himself to other women.” That is not cool. You are not the consolation prize! Like other commenters have said, you deserve more than this. You deserve someone who puts you first, and you’ll only be able to find this person by disentangling yourself from this relationship. It hurts to let go, but it’ll hurt more if you keep letting him have you wrapped around his finger with nothing but this crummy “friendship” to show for it.

  10. January 27, 2012 11:07 am

    Every time someone says something like you’ve just said Laura, and you’re not the first, I immediately think to myself that of course they would say that because they don’t know the whole story, they only know the stuff I feel sad about, and bitch about. And then I kind of feel like that girl who defends the guy who hits her.

    All I can say is that you make a good point and that I appreciate your care and understanding, but, and I hate myself for adding a but, that’s just not the way I feel about it or want to proceed right now. Sometimes, I feel like that takes away my right to talk about it with people, or blog about my feelings… I don’t know relationships are more complicate than that. This is just one version, right? That I wrote when I was upset.

    Not that this makes a difference of anything, but he didn’t exactly diss her, he told me she was amazing too, which I would rather not have heard.

    I did try totally cutting him out. I got ride of everything that reminded me of him, and we didn’t talk for a year and now we’re trying to be good friends. It’s just difficult. I think it’s just easy for me to obsess about it, because my life is not where I want it to be right now.

    Is he manipulative? I don’t know. I don’t think he means to be. I think we’re both doing the best we can given the situation. Mostly, I feel like I’m the one with fucked up issues and if I just got over them it would all be cool. Maybe, I’m just kidding myself. Who the hell knows. Gawd, where’s a good shrink when you need one.

  11. powderpower permalink
    February 17, 2012 11:48 pm

    Hi there, just got finished reading a few of your posts. I have been perusing pro-female blogs for a few weeks but this is the first comment I have felt compelled to leave. I have to say, it sounds very much like you have become trapped by the same misogynisic ideals that you are trying to battle so adamantly. The tone of your writing seems passive and submissive towards the ex boyfriend while spiteful and condescending towards a woman you have never met. To actively attempt to seduce him just to make yourself feel good? That is very unsettling and extremely cruel. There is nothing assertive or strong in those actions.. I feel bad for you, and for your ex and his new girlfriend who I suspect wouldn’t want this negative energy in their lives. It quite obviously has poisoned you.

  12. February 19, 2012 4:30 pm

    @Powderpower: I wasn’t quite sure how to take your comment the first time I read it. To be honest, it kind of upset me and put me on the defensive. It’s hard to judge tone and intent in one single comment, so I decided to give myself a couple days before responding.

    I have to say, it sounds very much like you have become trapped by the same misogynisic ideals that you are trying to battle so adamantly.

    Isn’t that why most of us fight against something? Or at the very least, one of the reasons why… We ssee things in others, in the world around us, and in ourselves that we don’t like and we fight against them… for a better world, for peace of mind….?

    To actively attempt to seduce him just to make yourself feel good? That is very unsettling and extremely cruel.

    Unsettling? Yes. Cruel? Yes. Was I trying to defend my actions? No. Was I trying to say that it was healthy behavior or even something I would like to perpetuate? No. Did I say it was assertive or strong? No. Was I trying to work through some emotions and determine for myself what would be assertive and strong? Yes.

    I feel bad for you, and for your ex and his new girlfriend who I suspect wouldn’t want this negative energy in their lives.

    Out of everything you said, this upset me the most. Like I previously wrote, I have no idea what your tone or intent was, but this felt condescending to me. The first part, anyhow. I don’t feel bad for myself and certainly don’t want anyone else to. As for the rest of it, nobody wants this kind of negative energy in their lives. That’s quite true.

    It quite obviously has poisoned you.

    True enough. I don’t need anyone to point that out to me. What I would like is maybe some constructive criticism on how to let go, change the situation, or “un-poison” myself. Now, that would have been helpful.

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