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March 27, 2019

Should I Date My Ex’s Friend?

Hey, Bonita…

Hey Bonita,

Upperclassman gay Dawg here. I'm originally from South Carolina, live in Athens and have been in a long-distance relationship with a guy in Chattanooga. He broke up with me over the phone last month, so I could use a new friend right now. I hopped on Tinder while home on spring break, matched with a guy, and we've hit it off. We have great conversations that aren't shallow. Then, he mentioned he was only visiting from east Tennessee. I did some social media investigating, and realized this guy is personal friends with my now-ex, but he apparently doesn't realize who I am.

I need new people to hang out with, and was looking forward to meeting up eventually, but I don't want to look like a crazy ex. Do I owe my ex-boyfriend anything here, or are there other reasons this might be a good, bad or neutral idea?

Yours,

Confused by Societal Codes

Hey Dawg,

Sweetheart, you don’t owe anything to a person who would dump you over the phone. What a jerk! And so what if he’s your ex’s friend? The idea that you “owe” an ex anything is a slippery slope for all kinds of shit. If you deem this guy off-limits, then your ex’s proximity to other things could begin to influence other decisions you make.

Is ghosting this guy a self-care decision to spare yourself drama and tension, or is it a reaction to the general idea of being near the memory of a past mortifying relationship experience? I’ve done both, but the latter is what I want you to avoid. I still steer clear of entire restaurants and businesses just to avoid the ex-adjacent people in my cypher. It’s because I don’t know what they know about me or about that experience, and I don’t know what picture of me has been painted by my ex’s words. It’s easier to just avoid the self-doubt and humiliation that gets stirred up by those questions, but it’s no way to live, and it feels terrible in the moment.

I think you should go out with this guy. Some will say that it’s weird to date an ex’s friend, and I’m sure that if the cutie in question knows who you are by now, he’s probably wondering how appropriate it is for him to date a friend’s ex. I understand why we ask ourselves these questions, but I think they’re rooted in a very monogamist notion that assumes some level of ownership over our partners that never expires, even after a breakup. We should not be calling dibs on each other. I’d only mention the ex if he mentions him first, but besides that, I hope you have fun on your date.


Hey Bonita,

I work a very stressful job in a health-care setting. I have a colleague who is more like a friend for me—we chat and vent to each other regularly, go out to lunch, etc. It's a work relationship that I value immensely. A recent issue is that this friend/co-worker has been having some pretty tense conflict with another member of our team for the past month or two. I am very supportive of her, generally, because this other team member—a doctor who has, let's be honest, a pretty intense superiority complex—is controlling, impossible to talk to or reason with and downright rude at times.

So, what's the problem? In their most recent head-butt, I kinda agree with the doctor! I don't wanna get to specific about the issue, but it has to do with "staying in your lane,” which my work friend isn't always good at. Ugh—what do I do? I don't think I'm gonna be able to support her on this, but she's super upset!

You don’t need to agree with her to offer her comfort and friendship. Instead of speaking to the specific situation, speak to her feelings. Say, “I’m sorry it went that way,” or comment on the doctor’s unprofessional communication style, as opposed to vocally taking a side on the issue. That’s a tough position to be in as a friend, but you can avoid upsetting her further by providing comfort, as opposed to backing up a position you don’t agree with.

Need advice? Email advice@flagpole.com, use the anonymous form at flagpole.com/getadvice, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.

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