New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.
Six months ago I broke up with my boyfriend of four and a half years after it became clear to me he had emotionally checked out of our relationship months earlier and had no desire to try to improve things. It’s been a long road but I’ve been trying to put it behind me, avoiding drunk dials, deleting him from Facebook and basically trying to move on without him. The problem is, now he has gone out of his way to become friends with everyone I’ve ever introduced him to and I have to hear about him every two weeks. I’m not generally a jealous person but I don’t understand how/why he’s all of sudden hanging out with people he never contacted on his own during the four years we were together. I’ve counted at least 11 people (that I know of) who are now hanging out with him when they never did without me before.
I told my friends how I feel and they seem to sympathize but the situation isn’t getting better. I’m really ashamed to admit it, but this is driving me bonkers and I don’t know how to make it stop! Should I confront him? Cut out the friends who are clearly playing both sides and/or favoring him over me? Run away to a new city and a new life? Fight for my territory? Grit my teeth and try to ignore it until it doesn’t bother me anymore? (And if it’s the last option, please provide pointers on how to keep my crazy under control.) — Feeling Single White Femaled by her Ex
If you dated your ex for four and a half years, it’s safe to say that your friends, the ones who hung out with the two of you as a couple of a regular basis, probably developed a relationship with him. If they all liked each other, then there were likely some genuine friendships made over the course of those several years. Just because “your” friends didn’t hang out with him one-on-one when you were a couple doesn’t make their friendship with him any less genuine. If you were their friend first and foremost, and probably the social planner too, then it makes sense that you’d be the go-between. Even if your ex genuinely liked your friends, there wouldn’t have been reason to contact them on his own if you were the one making the plans for all of you to get together. But now you don’t fill that role anymore. And is he supposed to just drop all of these people he’s spent the last four and half years getting to know and build friendships with just because you broke up and they were your friends first? Do you really think of your friends as “territory,” or property to be divided in a breakup? That in itself might say something about why your friends seem to suddenly be favoring your ex over you…
Look, you’ve already told your friends how you feel about them remaining friendly with your ex, and through their actions they basically told you it’s not your place to tell them who they can or can’t be friends with. I happen to agree with them. Unless their friendship with your ex is directly compromising your friendship with them or making your life or breakup much more traumatic than it has to be, you should probably drop it and MOA. If it helps, try temporarily deleting your Facebook account so you aren’t tempted to check up on the communications between your friends and your ex. Tell your friends you don’t want updates on him anymore. And if you really feel that there are people in your life who are “choosing” your ex over you, it might be time to re-evaluate those relationships and cut back on your investment in those people. The truest friends — the ones who know how much you’re hurting right now — not only won’t favor your ex, but they’ll be sensitive about your feelings and will be selective about their contact with your ex and sensitive about the information they share with you about him. Those who aren’t might need to be dropped.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.