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Dear Breakup Girl,
I've recently gone through a turbulent experience and would like your
perspective on what sort of boundaries exist among a person (me), one of my
closest friends, and my ex. This is a rather turbulent tale, so please fasten
your safety belts. I broke up with Ross about 10 months ago, after dating for
about 4 months, for a variety of semi-neurotic reasons (primarily, I wanted to
be single again, felt claustrophobic, we were better off as pals, etc). So Ross
and I remain close friends, both of us knowing that Ross is still carrying a
wee torch for me and would happily rekindle if the opportunity ever arose.
Ross and I are excellent friends with Beatrice, who is one of my best girl
pals, my confidante, the Cagney to my Lacey. Beatrice, although smart and
attractive, doesn't date much and is -- like the most of us-- a bit insecure
about finding someone, what lurks in the future, etc.
Recently, I ran into Ross at a restaraunt on a date with another woman,
which, of course, he's entitled to do. At first I felt, OK, my ex is with
someone new. I can handle this, no big deal. But 24 hours later I was on
Beatrice's living room floor sobbing my confused little heart out. Seeing Ross
with someone new really shook me into re-evaluating my feelings with Ross. I
realized that Ross had grown up a lot since we'd broken up, and that I wanted
to be with him.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Beatrice, apparently, thinks I'm just upset that Ross is
moving on, does not realize I'm rediscovering feelings for Ross. I hear the
words that will alter my universe come from Beatrice's mouth,"Honey, we
have to talk."
It turns out that Ross and Beatrice had been clandestinely messing around
for the past two months. It wasn't an exclusive relationship, Beatrice says,
but now Beatrice is crying and upset because I've just told her that Ross is
out with another woman and she, too, now has intense feelings for Ross. I can't
believe one of my closest friends has been lusting after my ex behind my back.
This is where it gets sticky: The relationship between exes, I think,
establishes certain boundaries of privacy, as in, I don't and he shouldn't feel
accountable to share every romantic news flash that occurs. But, my girlfriends
are a different story. Am I wrong to feel completely betrayed that one of my
best friends has been hiding this from me, even though Ross and I were broken
BG, it only gets muckier. Knowing how Beatrice felt, knowing how I felt, I
called Ross and told him we needed to talk. I presented him with three options:
you can date Beatrice, you can date me, or you can go out into the brave world
and chart new territory. After some discussion about how he didn't want to hurt
anyone or lose our friendships, Ross told me that he wanted to be with me, that
he had tried to get over me (obviously!) but to no avail. I am ecstatic,
except, now how do we deal with Beatrice?
Again, I have to stress that when I was agonizing on Beatrice's floor, I
thought it was clear that I was not over Ross. Apparently, in her own
tear-filled universe, Beatrice though I was just having post-breakup trauma.
She didn't know the depth of my affections for Ross. So when Ross sat her down
(we agreed it would be too intense if we told her together) and explained that
he wanted to be her friend but he was back with me, Beatrice immediately thinks
that I just wanted Ross so she wouldn't have him. She doesn't realize I had
these feelings before she disclosed all and probably thinks that I'm just being
possessive over my ex. She now thinks I'm a backstabber and doesn't acknowledge
at all that what she did may have been a little suspect.
BG, I don't want to throw away a friendship over a guy. Ross and I are HAPPY
but we know that Beatrice is hurting right now. I'd like to sit down with her
and hash things out, since I think there is a certain degree of fault among all
parties involved, but I don't know if I can do that if she's not prepared to
admit that sneaking behind my back was not OK. Can this friendship be salvaged?
Will yet another set of gal-pals be driven apart by that thing called love?
PS In her latest book, Judge Judy writes that if one hundred women were
stranded on an island they would set up a democratic system of rule, divide
labor equally, and form a near-perfect society. But if you put one hundred
women and one man on that island, the women will eventually kill one another
off until the one living victor ends up with the guy. I'd like to think this is
not true. Please restore my faith in the fairer sex.
Of course you're not wrong to feel betrayed. How are
you supposed to feel, psyched?
But. I can also see why she didn't rush to give you
the news flash. They were basically "messing around." Nothing
exclusive. Not like they had a formal announcement to make about a more formal
arrangement. I'm not saying her hookupage was a supercool How to Make an
American Quilt thing to do-- and I know her feelings did become more
significant -- but I can see why she'd think it was worth sparing you full
So: can this friendship be saved? I think so. But your
willingness to sit down and hash things out absolutely may not depend on
her willingness to admit anything. Forgiveness is not a contingency, Vicki. By
definition. Hey, if Mrs. Buttafuoco can do it, so can you.
PS Your faith in the "fairer" (?!)
sex? How about Judge Judy's? (Good thing she's impartial, being a judge
and all.) I'm not even going to dignify that with further response, because the
Smurfiest society of all would be the one where no one uses insulting
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