Q: My girlfriend’s best friend is
her ex. They broke up six years ago (upon mutual agreement). She swears
she’s much happier being his friend and says they both feel they
weren’t meant to be romantic partners. Well, she clearly adores the
hell out of him, and he’s her go-to guy for her problems (family,
career, and probably any issues with me). She respects my opinion, but
sometimes I feel she only asks for it so I won’t feel second banana to
him. We’ve only been dating eight months, and I feel she believes what
she says about their friendship, but part of me worries that she’s
still in love with him but not aware of it. During one of their long
phone chats, if he said he wanted to be with her after all, I suspect
I’d be dumped fast.
A: If this were a chick flick, you’d be the plot device —
the guy the girl’s with just so she can figure out that she should
marry the other guy. (Start worrying if you roll over in bed and see a
couple of prop men unplugging your lamp.)
Of course it’s hard for you to believe
that a guy who once wanted her body now just wants her ear. Their
insistence that they’re just friends does run contrary to the wisdom of
the noted therapist Billy Crystal, who warned in his seminal work,
“When Harry Met Sally,” that “men and women can’t be friends because
the sex part always gets in the way.” Sure it does —
mainly when they have yet to have sex with each other. But, these two
have been there, done each other (and done each other and then some).
Chances are, the thrill of the chase really has given way to the thrill
of getting on the phone so they can cluck like two excitable hens.
People commonly think love is only supposed to come in groups of two, like on the ark. But, this “two-topia” —
the notion that one person will meet your every emotional, sexual, and
career counseling need (while leading you in a killer ashtanga workout)
— is actually an
impossible ideal. The truth is, in addition to your romantic partner,
you can have another deeply important person in your life — a friend-plus! — who you love more than a typical friend but who you don’t love naked (or don’t love naked anymore).
And sure, if your girlfriend has a BFF,
you’d prefer it to be somebody named Melanie, whose interests run the
gamut from shoes to shoes. And yes, she could suddenly decide to “put
the ex back in sex.” But, six years post-breakup, it’s likely her
attraction is more therapeutic —
having a longtime friend to lean on who’s probably helped her dust all
the skeletons hanging in her closets (home, office, and beyond). Don’t
get all wound up in trying to compete with him or meet her every need;
you just need to meet enough of them and keep getting to know her.
Throw yourself into your relationship instead of obsessing that it will
end, and try to focus on the merits of their friendship. This guy
enhances her life, and if her life is enhanced, she’s enhanced, and so
is her life with you…even if that flies in the face of everything
you’ve ever heard about how love is “supposed” to play out.
(Shakespeare wrote “Romeo and Juliet,” not “Romeo, Juliet, and Bob.”)
Q: Two male friends who know I’m
happily married have made a pass at me recently. One’s kind of a
player, so…whatever. The other I considered a very good friend (of
seven years), and I find myself remarkably angry with him. Some friend.
I feel like posting a blog item, “I have never been unfaithful to my
husband and never will be.”
A: When one dog tries to hump
another, it generally isn’t because he finds the other dog ethically
sketchy. I get that you aren’t a chihuahua with computer privileges,
but there’s a good chance the thought process for these guys was
dog-humpingly deep. I had you send me your photo, and you’re gorgeous.
Men make passes at women who are blindingly attractive —
and not necessarily because they devalue them as friends or think
they’ll be quick to toss their wedding ring on another man’s night
table. Sometimes, impulse, dirty martinis, desperation, and seven years
of a woman’s hotitude just come to a head. This isn’t to say you should
excuse what these guys did or continue being friends with them if
that’s painful, but it may help to understand that the calculation here
may not have involved a comprehensive risk/benefit analysis…beyond
you’re beautiful and they’re drunk, and if they’re going to be
relegated to meaningless anonymous sex, they’d like it to be with you.