The Friend Code

Is it breaking the rules to be buddies with a pal's ex?

A couple years back, I went through a pretty traumatic breakup with my then-boyfriend of four years. We were pretty serious, and after the breakup I tried to separate my life from his and managed to carve out a good situation for myself. Recently, some of my close friends have become friends with him again. One is even going to be his roommate! This has been very hard for me to accept, and I hate hearing stories about how much fun they're having. Is it unreasonable for me to want to avoid the topic of my ex? Or should I be over it by now? To make matters worse, my ex is still friends with the girl he left me for, and my friends have now befriended her as well. Isn't that breaking a cardinal friend law?

Disgruntled Ex

A few years ago, I was out with my then-very-close friend—let's just call her Edna—on a hell-bent mission to find this guy I'd been crushing on for months. I mean, I had it bad for him and could speak of little else. She agreed to do reconnaissance with me, and because I'm a crafty gal, we ran into him (on purpose) at my favorite local bar. The three of us began chatting, and a few minutes later I walked off for a little bathroom break. On my way back from the loo, I see from across the room that his hand is up her skirt and she's giggling like a ninny. Until she noticed me staring at them. Only then did she swat his hand away.

They wound up dating for almost a year until his cheating, drunkypants ways became too much even for a treacherous bitch like her to bear. I wasn't around for the fallout because I crossed her off the friend list that very night.

Edna's behavior was a clear violation of the friend code: You do not make out with your friend's crush while she's urinating. As far as your pals go, a few years after the fact, the line is a little murkier. Yes, you should probably be over him. But with some relationships, it's just not that easy and the pain lingers longer than it should. (Note that I'm not the poster child for getting over it.) Nor is there any reason to forgive someone who treated you horribly. I don't buy this school of thinking that says you have to be friends with all your exes. You wouldn't keep a friend around who lied to you and betrayed you— why should you make an exception for someone you slept with? If anything, betrayal hurts more coming from someone who has seen you naked. As long as you're moving on in other ways and not being a mental case about it, there's really nothing you can do about it. It's like a physical ailment that you just have to learn to live with. And like an open sore, it hurts when someone pokes at it.

So yes, it's supremely annoying that your friends have adopted him and the skank he left you for as their new best buddies. Have you made them aware of your feelings on that matter? If you're one of those people who's really good at hiding their feelings, they may be absolutely clueless about how much it's bugging you.

After my most long-term relationship (six years) ended, I, too, was devastated. I didn't ask that my friends shun the heartbreaker, but they were sensitive enough not to talk about him in front of me. Or at least try, anyway. I'm not sure how it would have played out further down the line, but I didn't get a chance to find out because he died two years after we broke up. Hey, you could always pray your ex comes down with brain cancer—problem solved! (Kidding!)

But if I were in your shoes, I'd tell your friends that though it's been a while, the way you were treated during the breakup still hurts you and that if they insist on being friends with him, you insist that they respect your feelings and shut up about him when you're around. Then I'd start looking for some new friends to supplement the old.

Need a friend? Write Dategirl at or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

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