Q. I could really use some advice with a situation that involves my ex, whom, once all the dust settled, I count as one of my closest friends. We were together for a few years and lived together. I broke it off and moved out early this year for a lot of different reasons. It was rough for a little while, but we are clearly in a place where we can be friends now. We started off as friends before the relationship.
We’re both exploring the dating world and he recently started dating someone exclusively who seems great. The only problem is that she doesn’t like that we still talk or hang out once in a while (a couple times a month). Recently, he joined me for drinks with some mutual friends, and the girlfriend found out about it and was very upset. I get that it also means he didn’t tell her about the plans, and I can understand how that would feel, but at the same time I would never tell my significant other who he could be friends with. I’ve been friends with most of my exes, as well, and was always upfront about it with him and vice versa. Their relationship dynamics are none of my business anyway!
I’m not a threatening ex-girlfriend here. My work and social schedule will make it so that I can’t see him very often anyway, but am I doing anything wrong here?
Trying to Be a Friend,Boston
A. You’re not doing anything wrong. He’s in charge of his social calendar, and it’s up to him to be honest with his girlfriend about what he’s doing on any given night.
All you can do is be a friend and maybe ask some questions. As in “Why didn’t you tell her where you were?” (I’d like to know the answer to that one.) You can also ask, “Do you think you need space from this friendship? Is it working for you?”
Please prepare yourself because he might decide to set some boundaries with you. And that wouldn’t necessarily mean that his girlfriend is an irrational jerk, by the way. It would just mean that they both need some time to strengthen the relationship.
The thing is, it’s not like your romance happened five years ago. It was still alive in 2013.
For now, just be a friend and follow his lead. And if he decides he needs to limit his exposure to you — or to bring her along — be a friend and understand.
I think there is a little bit of jealousy on your part as well. . . . You state that you’re “exploring the dating” world while he has already become exclusive with the new girl. Make sure you’re not looking for something to be wrong with her by blowing up this one story.
You’re not the problem here. You seem more than willing to back off if you need to. It’s his problem.
Not your problem. But I like Meredith’s advice about asking your ex if he’d like a little more space. He may feel some loyalty to you to not shut you out at all when it really would be OK to set a bit more distance.
GMV2Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.