I was actually helping my ex-boyfriend try to get his girlfriend back when somehow we ended up hooking up. Now he's back with his girl and he tells me we can’t be friends anymore. I'm really hurt because he is also one of my best friends and I love his presence in my life. I believe he feels the same way. I'm not trying to get back with him. I just want to keep the great friendship we've built over the past six years. I can't have a friendship with him because he has a girlfriend now? —A.C.
I get why you like your ex-boyfriend so much and would want him in your life. He sounds like a stand-up guy, who, when push comes to shove, makes the right choice. Unfortunately, a friendship with you—his ex, someone he hooked up with recently—doesn’t fall under the category of “a good idea” now that he’s back in a relationship. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do by ending his association with you.
To be clear, you and your ex are not friends. You are two people who used to be in a relationship; had dreams, adventures and sex together; and then broke up, for whatever reason. You began a relationship because there were things you liked about each other, and when you ended the relationship, you kept each other around to enjoy those traits without the headaches of being in a relationship.
I actually do believe that some exes (in some cases) can be genuine and platonic friends if they’ve healed from their relationship and enough time has passed. It’s been six years since you and your ex parted ways, but you two aren’t “just” friends. If you were genuinely friends, you wouldn’t have “ended up hooking up.” There’s clearly some sexual chemistry at play, and as evidenced, neither of you can resist it. This is not a platonic friendship.
Frankly, despite what you write, I don’t think you’re over your ex. The story doesn’t make sense. Why does he need your help to get his girlfriend back? Did he need your help to get her in the first place?
Maybe listening to so many dating and relationship woes over the years has made me cynical, but that sounds like a ploy to spend extra time with him when you know he’s vulnerable. That you “ended up hooking up” just makes me believe this even more. In addition, you still “love his presence” in your life and you’re taking his moving on six years later as a breakup. Again, this is not a platonic friendship.
There may have been a time when your ex was willing to play with fire—that would be you—but it seems that he’s quite serious about keeping his girlfriend now that he has her back, as he should be. Who knows? Maybe she sensed the chemistry between the two of you, and distancing himself from you was a condition that she set for taking him back. Or maybe he let you go as a pre-emptive measure because things have a tendency to spiral beyond the boundaries with you.
It could also be about appearances, because it doesn’t look as if he was all that serious about wooing his woman back if he was hooking up with his ex. (Technically, he didn’t do anything wrong, since he was single.) And when—not if—that story comes out, it looks better if he can say, “I knew it was wrong and I cut off all contact.” Your ex isn’t stupid.
What is clear is that he’s told you that he doesn’t want you in his life anymore. It doesn’t have so much to do with the girlfriend—he had one before and still interacted with you—as with the fact that he has decided he doesn’t want you to be a part of his life anymore. So as much as you think “he feels the same way” that you do, his actions say otherwise.
His girlfriend is his priority. And really, this should have happened a long time ago. Your reaction indicates that, despite the length of time that had passed since your relationship ended and he dated other women, you still had a pretty big role in his life. You’ve just realized that someone outranks you and he’s actually serious about her.
I know you’re hurt, and I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s time for you to respect his decision and move on. If you were in his girlfriend’s shoes, you would want your man to make the same choice.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “Why It’s Not Worth Throwing Dirt on an Ex”