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October 13, 2005


wilted.gifI've learned to mention it by the second date. Just so ya know, some of my closest friends are ex-girlfriends. There's nothing whatsoever to be concerned about—if we wanted to be together, we've had plenty of chances—but some women find it off-putting. So if it weirds you out, please let me know sooner rather than later. Dategirls are never offput by this early on. If anything, they misinterpret this as evidence of a loving, forgiving nature that I do not actually possess. So why give the little speech? To set up the speech six months down the road, when Dategirl's traumatized by, say, Maddie knowing that the chicken masala gave me food poisoning. To me, this is a no-brainer. What good is having diarrhea, after all, if you can't graphically depict the symptoms to your appalled ex-girlfriend? "But that's so intimate..." Dategirl will say, suddenly feeling threatened. And then I launch into the 6-month speech: "Look. I was straight with you from Day Two about this friendship. You have no right to have a problem with it now..."

• • •

Allie and I have long looked for a project we can write together. I thought I had a pretty good idea: a he-said/she-said guide to being friends after a breakup. She gently declined. "Why on earth would I wish this friendship upon another living soul?"

So I guess I'm writing this on my own.

First of all, much as most relationships shouldn't happen, so is it with ex-ships. Most exes should just go away. Far away. I know it feels good to know that this person doesn't hate you, but that's no reason to invite the unique strains of ex-ship into your lives. I personally think the strains are worth it. I like that these friends know my every last wart and button; that they turn up my thermostat without asking; that they decide that the vase looks better there and presume to move it; that I can make them scratch that spot on my back I can't reach; that they know they can criticize me with impunity. I don't enjoy this level of platonic intimacy with any other friends—they haven't earned it, and neither have I—and I've yet to meet a Dategirl for whom I'd even consider giving it up. I'd sooner be alone for the rest of my life.

But it ain't easy. I've tried ex-ships and failed. I don't pretend to know all, here, but my experience is that the following ex-ship scenarios are doomed:

posted by john at 9:21 AM  â€¢  permalink