Anna Pulley, @annapulley
RedEye's sex columnist
11:18 AM CDT, October 3, 2012
My ex is stealing my friends! Two months ago I broke up with my boyfriend; let's call him "Sam." We had a lovely, loving relationship, but I ultimately didn't see it going anywhere. So after much deliberation and heartache, I broke it off. We met through a longtime mutual friend; let's call him "Frank." Frank is my ex's best friend and my best guy friend. Now Frank is guilt-tripping me about the breakup, telling me I'm no longer on his "nice list" and generally acting like I'm a bad guy. This is in jest, but also not. It feels a little "bros before hos." I also found out that I'm not invited to another mutual friend-of-my-ex's wedding, which I was previously told I would be invited to. My best guess is that it's because of the breakup. How do I maintain these mutual friendships post-breakup? How do I feel less crappy about it all? Is it fair that I'm feeling a little mad at my ex for stealing these friends?
You're allowed to be a little mad. Of course, you are. Breakups suck. No one walks away skipping to my lou, except maybe Lou, that asshole. But don't stay mad. Instead, say something. This will be easier in the "Did I get disinvited from your wedding?" situation. I suggest you send a quick email to the betrotheds and ask for clarification. Sure, they might not write you back, but at least you tried. People are weird about weddings. They want as little drama as possible, so if they can avoid unpleasant ex run-ins, it's understandable that they might send you packing, as unfair as that sounds. If that's the case, then cut your losses, and consider yourself lucky you don't have to dance to "Funkytown" with the bride's weird uncle.
As to the "bros before hos" guy, that's a little trickier. As the dumper, it's commonly accepted that you have it "easier," regardless of whether this is true or not. Your mutual friend might feel like he needs to defend the dumpee because by virtue of the situation, he needs defending. (See also: how to cope with getting dumped.) Not that I agree, but I've been known to do it too, especially if a recently dumped friend is really reeling from the heartache. "You know what?" I'd tell them, in between whiskey sours drank from a measuring cup, "That guy was a loooooser. Not only was he afraid of commitment, but he also didn't blink enough. He couldn't even commit to blinking!" And then we'd watch 12 hours of "CEO Wives."
Regardless of whether your mutual friend is "jesting," it's still bullshit, and you need to call him on it. He probably doesn't know it's hurting your feelings. Make him know. You're not a bad person for ending a relationship. People don't suddenly become two-dimensional after a breakup. It's not like, "She was so sweet, and then she became Ann Coulter" (assuming you didn't sleep with his brother or something, which doesn't seem very likely). Give your friend a curt pep talk. He's certainly broken up with people himself. How would he like to be judged for those decisions?
Breakups do create rifts in friend circles; it's unavoidable. But in a way, it's a necessary social mirror. You hold it up and it shows where your real friendships lie. This is important to see, even if it's painful.
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