Why I Would Never Date Someone Who Stayed Friends With Their Ex

I think wanting a relationship that isn’t muddied in past lives is not too much to ask.

I think wanting a relationship that isn’t muddied in past lives is not too much to ask.

I was at a very posh dinner for one of my more glamorous friends. Her ex-girlfriend was there — a girl she often refers to as the “lost love” of her life. As the wine flowed, so did my friend’s feelings for her ex.

“You know we’re going to be married one day, right?” she said, a champagne flute dangling from her hand. She pulled her ex onto her lap and hugged her. “You’re my best friend in the entire world. I love you so much.”

This would have been a rather silly drunken exchange, but for one detail — her current girlfriend was present. As in sitting right next to her, watching all of this go down. I don’t know if this declaration was lost in the fuzziness of alcohol or what, but I don’t drink, and I felt deeply uncomfortable. I couldn’t take my eyes off the current girlfriend. Her jaw was tense, her smile unwavering. I wanted to know how she felt about this “friendship,” but wasn’t about to ask.

I wouldn’t even consider dating someone if they were close with their ex. 

If I’m going out with you and you tell me you have a tight relationship with someone you used to date seriously, I am out. That is too damn awkward for me. It makes my skin crawl.

Now, I’d like to preface the following by saying this is my personal opinion and if you don’t share it, that’s perfectly fine. We all have things we’re willing or are unwilling to deal with when it comes to relationships. No judgment here. This is how I feel, and that’s all. 

For some, a bad habit could be a deal breaker, an inability to text back in a timely fashion, or an affinity for Coldplay. For others, these things aren’t a big deal. Some people can forgive cheating; some people cannot. Some people can get over snoring; others can’t. We’re all different and have a different set of criteria for what is and what is not going to work for us.

If you want to date someone who nuzzles their ex at dinner parties in front of you, be my guest. If that doesn’t irk you, party on.

I’m a pretty confident lady, and yet, I would never date someone who stayed close friends with their ex. I just wouldn’t. I have healthy self-esteem, I really do. This is one of the main reasons I won’t date those with close ex-factors; it feels like they have unfinished business and I do not have the time for that shit.

For me, being friends with your ex is messy and complicated. It leaves so many stories unfinished and ends uncut. I prefer to have my romantic relationships centered around me: the new love interest.

How can I possibly focus on strengthening a new relationship when I have an ex dangling in the background? 

I don’t know, maybe it really is all centered around my own personal insecurity, but I can’t deal with it. 

Staying friends with someone you’ve had a lot of sex with, shared multi-tiered emotional mountains with, woken up on Sunday mornings with, and (possibly the most important) someone you were once in love with doesn’t sit well with me. It reminds me too much of Ross and Rachel (and many, many other TV characters like them): two people break up, but still deeply care for each other, so they stay friends. 

How is someone supposed to compete with that level of intimacy? 

Can you even fathom the amount of inside jokes that “friendship” has? You love your ex so much as a person that you can’t let them walk out of your life? 

In my view, it’s like wearing a sign that reads, “I’m not at the right time in my life to love my ex, so I’m learning a lot of lessons with you, and then I’m going to wind up back together with them so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

It’s not right. Not to me. I can’t be there competing with someone. I know that I’m not supposed to think of it that way, but I would, and I have. The delicacy of a new relationship is too evident for me to start it off with feelings of jealousy or distrust. I don’t want to start something new with a gut feeling of fear. 

Don’t get me wrong, human emotions and histories are complicated and messy. Expecting a clean slate isn’t realistic (or even desirable) — many things that happen to us are not within our control. Your past relationships, history, and mistakes won’t break us up, but your voluntary friendship with an ex will. 

I think wanting a relationship that isn’t muddied in past lives is not too much to ask. 

I don’t want to be like my friend’s girlfriend — tightly smiling, pretending her girlfriend’s relationship with her ex was no big deal, pretending the touches, sweet nothings, and caresses are flatly platonic. 

I don’t want to be that person who is plagued with jealousy and discomfort. That isn’t for me. If you want to be best friends with your ex, you go ahead and do that. You just won’t be in a romantic relationship with me.

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