SL Letter of the Day: Friendly Fire

Comments

1
I love happy hour answers.
2
Is this like one of those experiments to see if anyone will notice the double standard?
3
@2: The difference between "we're still in contact" and "he buys her gifts" is PRETTY FUCKING HUGE.
4
I had one of those boyfriends in college. His ex was named "Kitty", which made it that much more amusing!

He and I moved in together as I started grad school and he finished his undergrad, it was mutually pleasurable (and mutually beneficial in financial terms), but I knew it wasn't going to last and was glad to wave him off to his new job in Cali after 8 months.

We can laugh about it now as friends, which is one of the true pleasures of middle age.
5
@4: I CAN'T GET THAT KITTY FORMAN LAUGH OUT OF MY HEAD.
...good...coffee!
6
@3, I agree, except for the part where Dan said that gay men could be best friends with their exes while straight men can't. I actually pretty much agree but I think it might make me a hypocrite.
7
I was wondering how he knew that it was a guy and a gay guy, so I went and checked out dudesnude.com.

Now I have a question. Do you think that gay guys are as uncomfortable with straight girls looking at naked pictures of them as straight guys are uncomfortable having gay guys look at them?
8
@7 - I think there's a spectrum. Some guys are very sensitive about who looks at them naked, and some guys just like being appreciated. Seems to be pretty much the same no matter the orientation.
9
I thought "friendly fire" was something else.
10
@5: at the time, Kitty Forman was not even a gleam in Mark Brazill's eye (hell, he might've even slept with my ex, who was a bit omni-slutty).
11
@6, gay guys usually get a lot more practice in differentiating between the two kinds of attraction. For straight guys, the "people I would fuck" group and the "people I want to hang out with" group don't seem to overlap as much.
12
And then there's the "softball team" mode of serial monogamy...

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
13
Spoiler alter - I've seen this one before, and the boyfriend eventually dumps his girlfriend to get back together with his ex.
14
Seandr

Beat me to it.

Seen this many times.

dtmfa
16
There is a Hufflepuff joke just lying there waiting for someone to pick up, but it ain't gonna be me.
17
That is the best Harry Potter reference I've seen all week.
18
This isn't double standard advice. A guy can be best friends with his ex, gay or straight, but I don't know any guys (gay or straight) who buy their best friends nice gifts and meet in secret.
19
Personally, I think this has nothing to do with gender or orientation. In the second letter you have a basic friendship with an ex - extremely common and no big deal. In the first letter, you have somebody lying about interactions and hiding information from their partner. Now, either they are doing some awful things or they are protecting themself from an abusive and controlling partner, but either way, that relationship is unhealthy and not okay. In both of them, the problem is that they do not trust each other, and a relationship without trust isn't much of a relationship. But siding with the person engaging in the innocent activity in general, as in the second letter is right. And siding against that person in the exceptional cases where they are showing red flags of addictive behavior (lying and engaging in the activity in secret) is also right. Calling it a double standard is like calling it a double standard to side with the letter writer who is upset that their partner complains if they have one beer now and then, while also siding with the letter writer who is concerned their partner is spending lots of money on alcohol and regularly going on binges and lying about what they were out doing. Different situations simply are different.
20
@TWIMOR - trust me, I speak from experience. Walk now. Really. It's hard, but it only gets harder to walk later. This will only get worse with time. And he will never empathize. Leaving you in the loony seat.

...but you're not loony. You're aware of your feelings. And you will serve yourself well to walk. Now.
21
Ms Eagle - I am curious as to why you are more interested in what people (and which people, by the way?) think are the relative opinions of ogled men than in the actual opinions of the ogled men themselves. It reminds me of why I can't read much yaoi, as it is just too depressing to see what all those authors and readers either think male same-sexerism to be like or else want it to be like.
22
M? Persimmon - I've bought my best friends very nice gifts for decades, though I don't run to meeting in secret. If I weren't anti-wedding, I'd even be open to chipping in for that of my Positively Last Boyfriend; his pursuit of me did cost him whatever his parents might have contributed, and he's now in the situation Anne Elliot would have been in had she not relinquished her first engagement to Captain Wentworth. It almost reminds me of Mr Woodhouse reproaching himself for not paying the customary post-nuptial call on the new Mrs Elton, and Emma trying to persuade him in vain that his showing attention to a bride would be encouraging people to marry, despite his always being opposed to anybody's intention to commit matrimony.
23
stop making all these literary references, venno. most of these people are hard core philistines.
24
@ 13, I've seen this too and the boyfriend actually stayed with the new girlfriend. (He was later caught cheating with a third woman... but he's still with his girlfriend.)
25
Even those of us that aren't philistines may find the constant name-dropping of Jane Austen quite as assuming and ill-judged as Frank Churchill finds Mrs. Elton's condescending familiarity with another Jane.
26
@7 First of all, I'm sure there are plenty of gay dudes who are uncomfortable with straight women looking at naked pics of them...but I don't think you'd find a lot of them on DudesNude.

And second, you're not giving some straight guys enough credit. I work in a field in which the men are gay at a MUCH higher rate than the normal population (musical theatre), and I know a lot of straight guys in the biz who LOVE getting ogled by gay guys. Just goes with the attention whoredom of being an actor, I suppose...
27
@7 and @26 I think it has to do with the level of threat. Guys are generally more dangerous, so people in general tend to be a little more leery (get it?!!!!) of being seen naked by them. Nobody seems to mind women looking. I think it would carry over into the virtual world too, though of course everyone there can be a lot braver.
28
Am I the only one who thinks he may be meeting in secret because he's sick and tired of having his GF giving him trouble about spending time with one of his best friends? I'm a straight guy and one of my best friends (also a straight guy) has taken to spending time with me, and his other guy friends, in relative secret because his GF is so controlling.

I don't have an explanation for the gifts ... though I've known some people who give lots of gifts to their friends. I just think we're missing a perspective here and that the conclusion doesn't need to be he'll eventually leave his GF for his ex.
29
Wow, this one's easy. Straight men don't invest very much time/effort/money into women they aren't interested in fucking. And the fact that these two occasionally meet in secret already constitutes an affair regardless of whether or not they're fucking. DTMFA.
30
@28, yes, you are probably the only one, because the situations are completely different.

And no, he probably won't leave his GF for his ex. Because he probably enjoys being sought after by two women, and having at least one of them jealous of the other.
31
@30 Care to explain why "the situations are completely different"? The only difference I see is that I haven't fucked my friend ... but I don't consider that particularly relevant if it's his "girlfriend from many years ago".
32
Okay, Devil's Advocate time: My ex-husband and I are still very good friends. As in, we call each other up to describe the funny bumper sticker one of us saw, we lend movies, books, audio files, etc. We help each other out when asked. We sometimes go to the movies or to a lecture together. We have bought each other some pretty significant nice, pricey gifts since we stopped being married: we know each other and each other's wants, needs, and financial limitations pretty well. We laugh at the same things, we share children and their attendant concerns, we have common history, and we will always be good friends. We are emphatically not getting back together romantically or sexually.

He has had two girlfriends who couldn't handle it and that ended their relationships. The first one broke up with him because she couldn't understand his not hating (!) his ex-wife; he broke up with the second one when she started to get unreasonably jealous and extremely possessive. His attitude has been this is a friendship I am not going to give up. It's important to me. I will never leave you for her (me), but if you can't accept it, we are through. I appreciate his attitude, though I would have to understand and accept it if he decided that giving up the friendship with me was the price he'd have to pay to be with someone really great. He happens to feel that anyone who'd demand that price is not worth it. (I feel likewise, but haven't met anyone who expects it of me, and furthermore, haven't had a serious long-term relationship since we split up.)

So sometimes you can and should take someone's avowal at face value.
33
@6: "except for the part where Dan said that gay men could be best friends with their exes while straight men can't."

Except for when he didn't.

"while I tend to take a dim view of current BFs or GFs or SOPATGSFs* who insist that their BFs or GFs or SOPATGSFs have nothing to do with their ex BFs, GFs, or SOPATGFs (see the letter below), the amount of time and money your BF is spending on and with his ex-GF seems excessive. "

@28: "Am I the only one who thinks he may be meeting in secret because he's sick and tired of having his GF giving him trouble about spending time with one of his best friends?"

Yes, because if you think that's a good idea you're broken.

@32: From way outside that scenario, sounds like it's not just a friendship he's holding onto :I
34
@32 - ex-husband and co-parent is very much not the same as ex-girlfriend/boyfriend as I'm sure I don't have to tell you.
But this is also only tangentially about it being an ex: In a hetero relationship, it's entirely reasonable for your partner to expect some reasonable limits to opposite-sex friendships. You don't meet secretly, you don't make expensive gifts, you don't go on weekend getaways together _unless_ your current partner is entirely OK with those things.
36
NoCuteName - Do you think you haven't had another serious relationship because you are still enmeshed in your old one? People only have so much time and emotional energy, and past intimacy can increase a feeling of closeness. Perhaps the girlfriends, however wrongheaded their approach, were not wrong. He might simply not be emotionally available for a new relationship, because of his emotional commitment to you.
I wouldn't say this is bad or wrong, because I wouldn't elevate romantic relationships as necessarily more important or valuable than platonic ones. Just something to ponder on.
37
@36 - This. But the LW also needs to speak up for what she wants. Does she want to be the boyfriend's primary emotional connection? Does she want the boyfriend to take symbolic action to show the ex (and her) that they are never, ever, getting back together? Does she want the boyfriend never to have any female friends ever?

Whatever she wants, no matter how reasonable or unreasonable, the LW needs to own it, and the boyfriend needs to tell her how far he's willing to go to meet her. Otherwise, how are they going to get over any disagreements in future?
38
Ms Cute - The price-of-admission framing from the other side does seem closer to spot on.

(as for other things, I spare the assembled company a reference to Elizabeth Elliot that I don't think I've used yet)
39
@33 - Matchgame never said he thought it was a good idea. And he's not the only one who considers that possibility - it crossed my mind as well. We don't know how often the LW's BF meets with his ex, we don't know on what occasions he gets her gifts, and we don't know how she initially responded to finding out that they were friends. Was he always secretive about it or did this develop over time? I'm phrasing it as a question because I don't know. And neither do you.
40
LW, really, this is all it takes: " he tries to hide their meetings from me" to know it's time to DTMFA.

@25 - well played! Still...love 'ya mr. venn.
41
Mmm...ok, the convo got more substantive...and I want to play the overshare game as well...

@28 - While it may be true that he wants to hide it from her because she is an insecure controlling twit, that is not a valid justification for hiding it...it is, however, a perfectly valid justification for him to dump her.

@32 - I too have an ex-wife with whom I'm on friendly/decent terms..we do not call each other up to share funny bumper stickers but we are in infrequent contact. It's been a useful filter for driving away possessive, clingy and insecure women, but the level of involvement is also very minor. And whatever interaction/involvement there is, I'd be the first one to pull it out front and center right where the GF could see it to demonstrate that there is no threat, or to push her over the edge with her own issues. I agree that it's a price of admission issue for sure, and when I felt less confident of myself and was more susceptible to pressure over it, I had to work through recognizing that this (not being enemies with exes) is a part of who I am and what I like about myself, so any partner must accept it about me if they are gonna be a good match for me. The better partners saw it as a positive attribute, not a negative.

All that said, in the LW's case, it's an ex-GF, not an ex-wife. None of my ex-gfs is nearly as involved in my life as my ex-wife (which is to say, basically, not at all). A few are peripheral almost acquaintances now...but not people with ongoing regular interaction (no 'dates' or presents for sure!!!). My ex-wife (and I dunno about your ex-husband) isn't someone I regularly meet with or exchange gifts with. These just really aren't comparable situations.
42
@41 "whatever interaction/involvement there is, I'd be the first one to pull it out front and center right where the GF could see it"

Exactly. And nocutename, it sounds like you two don't hide your interactions either.

I have an ex I'm still close with (we dated for 4 years and broke up because the sexual chemistry faded). He comes along with me and my husband to concerts or what-not. Fun guy -- obviously not a threat.

Maybe we should mention sexual chemistry. Even without lying, I can see why a new GF would be anxious about obvious sexual chemistry between her guy and an ex. Maybe that's what "she wants him back" reveals. It could indicate a guy who won't want to be limited to monogamy after the first year of exciting new relationship sex fades a bit.
43
Also, Mr. Ven, I took on your question about "preventing" suicide over in that other thread, if you're still up for that discussion:
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…
44
@nocutename: I think the situation is different with two people who divorced after a long marriage. If I ever got divorced, my ex would be the last woman on earth I'd want to hook up with. Been there, done that, didn't work, no interest in repeating.

That said, I'd be patient with any new girlfriend who felt threatened by my ex. Seems pretty natural. (Then again, I seem to have a high tolerance for crazy.)

45
@32: The only thing that I think is really objectionable in your list of things that your ex and you do is the buying of nice, pricey gifts if it's happening between you two and not through the kids. Like, if you give him a nice Christmas gift and it's "from the kids" that makes sense. If you're giving him nice gifts completely out of the blue, especially gifts that wouldn't make sense if they came from your kids, that's a little weird. Maybe that's arbitrary, but in my experience, gifts are one of those things that most people only give to absolute intimates- family members and romantic partners. If you're giving him gifts like he's a family member (since he's the father of your children) that makes sense.

You might also want to consider whether a reasonable new partner might also have a problem with the amount of time and involvement that's dedicated to your coparent relationship, because even if the unreasonable girlfriends might have been crazy, they might've had a point.
46
@28: I think the reason most of us aren't thinking that is that she didn't write like a crazy, controlling person. We might be wrong, but her objections seem to be about the fact that he seems to be having secret outings and buying gifts for a woman who wants him back, not about his hanging out with an ex at all.

Also, your friend needs to DTMFA. That's crazy stuff there.
47
@32 : You should really read your comment to yourself out loud, and ask yourself, if you were someone else reading that, would you agree with your conclusion that "sometimes you can and should take someone's avowal at face value." Because, as someone who has never met you or your ex-husband and has no reason to be jealous or insecure, I don't take your avowals at face value, especially given the (pretty critical) evidence contained in that (pretty critical) parenthetical you make every effort to bury.
48
@30 hit the nail on the head. This dude has two women in a tizzy over him. If they're both putting up with it, why should he change?

Dump his inconsiderate ass, and soon you'll be the one getting gifts.
49
@7 -- I hope gay men don't mind being ogled or sighed over by straight women, or Zachary Quinto and Neil Patrick Harris are in for a world of angst. :-)

50
Hanoumatoi at #3 took the words right out of my mouth.

51
I have my own theory that could explain why the bf is spending time and lavishing pricy gifts on his ex-gf, especially if we are to take the LW's statement that the ex wants him back as the truth.

He may be trying to avoid (at the least) drama or (at the worst) a bunny-boiler incident if - as I believe - his ex resents the fact that they're no longer together, well not officially. So this (the time with her, the gifts and most likely an occasional fuck) is how the bf manages to keep whatever she's threatening to do at bay.

Or else the ex-gf has laid such an enormous guilt trip on him ("I'm all alone, nobody likes me, I miss getting nice things....") that he feels sorry for her and is trying to give her some of what she's lost.

Even if ALL he's doing is damage control, he is of course being totally unfair to the LW who has the normal expectation of being the #1 priority in his life. She shouldn't have to settle for sharing him. Time for "It's not me, it's you ... because you're behaving like a boyfriend – just not MY boyfriend!"

If he can't restrict himself to having only one girlfriend (whether official or not), then the LW should show him the door. Boot to the ass optional.
52
@51: "He may be trying to avoid (at the least) drama or (at the worst) a bunny-boiler incident if - as I believe - his ex resents the fact that they're no longer together"

He's a total moron if that's the case. The only solution with those people is to never ever talk to them again. Anything less is just perpetuating the situation.
53
Just to clarify, I was rewarding the point for its framing, even if I disagree with it. An author who would hold that opinion of my little efforts would not have made such a major passage of Three Things Very Dull Indeed, or any of a number of other things I could cite.
*********

Ms Erica - Well, there may be a point to that (I don't keep up on such statistics, but am willing to grant some sort of good faith), but it doesn't change that the message is the sort that, if I had the foresight of Muriel Fisher in The Time of the Angels and had prepared a little Exit Bottle, would likely drive me right to it. I suppose they should make it more clear that the organization is entirely for the welfare and benefit of those who view suicide as Something They Can Prevent, then at least it will make it clear to the suicidal people that the group isn't there for their benefit except indirectly.
54
That seems about right.
55
@52 is exactly right, and is even more reason to DTMFA since in this permutation, he's not really shielding you from the bunny-boiler.
56
Anyone who coos over a bunny-boiler "for you" is just endangering you further by keeping them close and telling them what's going on in your life.