Dear Uncle Slash,
I just broke up with someone I didn’t really know I was dating… until he told me we weren’t any more. My heart is a little bit broken… not because I thought he was “the one” necessarily, but it was pretty hurtful to learn that he was pretty sure I was not.
Nonetheless, I am convinced that once the sting of rejection wears off (36 more hours I think!?) I will still be missing his company and platonic companionship more than anything else.
We’d met on OKCupid and been UNdating for under 3 months: low key hang outs, chummy activities- watching hockey, riding bikes, playing dominoes and practicing our golf swings… (aside from the sex…which I guess, in retrospect, was a little more than chummy).
So my question is this- is it EVER ok to be friends with an ex? Is not wanting to be my life partner really such a horrific character flaw on his part (well, obviously… ) but… does that really mean we can’t ever share another sudden death overtime or sunny afternoon at the driving range? Am I silly to think we could make this “friend” thing work and I am sillier to think that he’d be interested in trying?
We’re currently at the “communication blackout/ radio silence” stage of this thing, but I noticed yesterday he checked out my OKC profile. So I was just wondering, Uncle Slash- Is there a way I can litmus test his interest in our possible friendly future without putting my ego and heart back out there for further stomping?
Little Broken Heart
Dear Little Broken Heart,
First of all I’m saddened by your message. It’s not because your question is full of Jedi mind tricks (it is, in case you didn’t know). It’s because when I read about your predicament, I couldn’t help but envision a windmill. Not the lone, dilapidated cedar-shingled kind that destroyed Don Quixote’s self esteem – though I can easily envision your little broken heart hiding inside with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s watching an Ashton Kutcher movie – but the contemporary horizontal axis wind turbine that looks like the “As Seen on TV” Vidalia Chop Wizard VOWR-2 Food Chopper.
The antiquated model is cute. The updated model is really dangerous. You can enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich under the former. Get too close to the latter and you’ll wind up in the sandwich.
Your query feels equally dangerous, Little Broken Heart and reminds me of a date I went on a few years ago.
I’d been single for a couple of years. During my down time, I’d developed a new relationship strategy. I promised myself that when I fell in love again I was going to do everything differently. You see, I used the same Jedi mind tricks most singles use too. It was typical for me to fall in love on the first date, meet the parents on the second and move my king-sized futon and my sock monkey into her place on the third. Like Woody Allen said, “I don’t go out on dates, I go out on relationships.”
When I met Sarah on the online dating site Plentyoffish.com, I learned, just like you, that I was a victim of my own Jedi mind tricks.
On our second date, we’d scheduled a time to go apple picking in the blue ridge mountains. But, my sister called me at the last minute and asked if I could babysit. Rather than cancel my date, we decided to bring my eight year old nephew.
On the way to the orchard, we made a quick detour to see Monticello, the plantation home of Thomas Jefferson. The third President (and progressive neoclassical architect) built it when he was only twenty six years old and over many, many years rebuilt it, added additions, and turned it into a unique fun-house of sorts.
As we lingered on Jefferson’s front porch waiting for our tour guide to lead us inside, I noticed that the bricks on the outside looked fake. While Sarah and my nephew continued ahead with the group, I stayed behind and touched the wall. My suspicions were confirmed – the bricks were made of some kind of sand-like wallpaper – the particles flaked away between my fingers.
Happy with my discovery, I turned to walk inside, but was stopped. Two guard’s in dark polyester vests pushed me around to the side of the house. “Watchu’ doing?” one said. “Yeah, why you feelin’ the need to be so close?” the other said.
I had no explanation. Instead, I stared at the ground in shame, shook my head and mumbled, “I don’t know.”
I was released after a short interrogation, but for the rest of my date I felt like a criminal. I kept hearing those two questions replaying over and over again. “Watchu’ doing?” and “Why you feelin’ the need to be so close?”
Those questions were the perfect metaphor for my dating life. I had promised myself I was going to do things differently, but introducing my date to a family member on a second date that lasted over six hours really wasn’t so different then the way I rushed into things on all my other dates.
I suppose this memory comes to mind Little Broken Heart because these are the exact same questions you need to interrogate yourself with now: “Watchu’ doing?” and “Why you feelin’ the need to be so close?”
The fact that you feel so hurt after three months tells me that you’re used to overdrive dating where you get really close really fast. My guess is that you’re not aware of the message you’re sending to your fragile heart with your dating behavior. Watching hockey, riding bikes, playing dominoes, practicing your golf swings and having sex is dating no matter how you semantically frame it to soften the hurt. This is why the dangerous wind turbine came to mind. I see your arms flailing around as if to hug someone, not realizing you’d chop any guy to pieces if he ever got close enough.
Do I think it’s I silly that you want to make this “friend” thing work? Absolutely, but, why you feelin’ the need to be so close? Is it EVER ok to be friends with an ex? Absolutely, but watchu’ doing? Is there a way I can litmus test his interest in our possible friendly future without putting my ego and heart back out there for further stomping? Of course, but how about making a new guy friend you don’t meet on an online dating website and one who isn’t an ex-boyfriend?
My advice to you is as simple and as dangerous as a windmill – From now on, if you have a good idea, don’t do it.
Your Interim Best New Guy Friend,