My ex-girlfriend and I were together about ten years ago—we dated for about three years—and remained good friends after the relationship ended. (We are both women.) We had been through a lot together, and I considered her my best and closest friend. Around April of last year, I had begun to develop feelings for her again. We ended up sleeping together about a month after that and I told her how I felt about her. She said she felt the same way towards me. Unfortunately, she said she wasn't ready to date anyone at the time, so I decided to stick it out and wait until she was ready for a relationship. I told her as much, and made it clear that I was intent on sticking around until she decided she was ready.

All I asked from her was that she was up front and honest with me about her feelings for me, and that if her feelings happened to change at any time, she would tell me. She agreed that she would and I trusted her.

This was in May of last year. Fast forward to last June, when I found out that she was seeing my brother, with whom I was extremely close. Neither one of them had bothered to tell me what was going on, and they had secretly been keeping in touch for two years. Mind you, I had to find out all of this information on my own; these two never gave me the courtesy of the truth, even after I found out about their relationship. I'm pissed because I was duped by two people whom I never thought would take me for granted and lie straight to my face, again and again.

To add insult to injury, my brother thinks there's nothing wrong with the fact that he's dating his little sister's ex (who also happened to be someone I still had feelings for) and she obviously has no problem with sleeping with me and then with my brother. I think it's wrong; my brother should not think it's okay to date my ex, and neither should she, no matter how long ago the relationship was. To me, a brother's or sister's ex (and an ex's brother or sister) is off limits.

So I'm wondering: am I overreacting in feeling that a romantic relationship between my brother and my ex-girlfriend is totally gross, or am I right to expect that both of them would respect that there is an implied boundary that comes with an ex-lover and a sibling?

Feeling Used, Betrayed And Repulsed

My response after the jump...


Sex can be a messy business, Cupid can be a total cunt, and sometimes our feelings for someone are so strong that we feel compelled to break rules and stomp across boundaries—and you know what? Other people's rules and other people's implied boundaries are the easiest for us to break, stomp, violate, etc.

I hear you, FUBAR, and I basically agree with you: you would never date the ex of a sibling or the sibling of an ex, FUBAR, and neither would I. But your brother and your ex aren't you and they aren't me. She's her and he's him and they're obviously willing to date people you and I aren't. Sometimes it feels like other people are free to make their own rules, choices, mistakes, determine their own boundaries, etc., so long as they're not breaking any laws, because... other people are free to make their owns rules, mistakes, choices, etc.

As for why they kept the news from you for so long, well... maybe it's just this one letter... and maybe it was a poor choice of words... and maybe you don't always come across this way... but in this particular letter you come across as just a bit intense/controlling/thick.

I'm thinking maybe your ex was afraid to tell you the truth.

Here's why I think that could the case: when you informed your ex that you had feelings for her, FUBAR, she brushed you off in the most obvious and transparent way possible: "...she said she wasn't ready to date anyone at the time."

Anyone old enough to have broken up with someone a decade ago—or seven years ago (the chronology is a little unclear)—should have been able to recognize that line for what it was: the little white lie the dumper tells the dumpee to spare the dumpee's feelings. It's meant to soften the blow, FUBAR, not prevent you from feeling the blow. But what did you do? Did you take that universally-recognized "no" for an answer bow out gracefully? No, FUBAR, you did not. You went all Les Parapluies de Cherbourg on her ass, i.e., "If it takes forever, I will wait for you, for a thousand summers," blah blah blah. Or as you wrote: "I made it clear that I was intent on sticking around until she decided she was ready."


She had just told you not to wait for her, FUBAR, and that she would never be ready—that's what "I'm not ready for a relationship right now" means, FUBAR, that's the only thing that expression ever means. When you made it clear that you weren't going to take "no" for an answer—when you made it clear you weren't willing to take "I'm not ready for a relationship right now" for an answer—your ex should've come out with it: "I'm sorry, please don't wait, not even for one summer, because I'm really not interested in getting back together—in fact, I'm actually seeing someone else... someone I think you know..."

Your ex can be faulted for failing to come clean; your brother can be faulted for hiding the romance. But look to your own actions, FUBAR: are you a little bit intimidating? Or are you just dense? Did you give them cause to hide this affair from you? Were they thinking it might be better to wait because, hey, if their relationship fizzled after a few weeks—like most relationships do—they could pretend it never happened and avoid a lot of drama?

And while you think about those questions, FUBAR, please enjoy this clip from Les Parapluies de Cherbourg.