ALW’s Five Guys Q. 9: When Your Ex Finds Someone Else

ALW’s Five Guys answer readers’ questions about the sometimes frustrating, sometimes confusing, always engrossing subject of modern relationships. Your questions will be kept anonymous, unless you wish them not to be. Ask your question here!

Five G! I write to you in a last resort to gain some understanding. My ex and I broke up right before the end of the summer a year ago as I was going abroad to teach English and we did not want to do long distance. He started hooking up with a mutual friend of ours about six months after and they became official a few months before I moved back to the area. No one ever told me that they were dating (which is not a big deal) but I felt deceived when he told me. I don’t think I have feelings for him anymore. We dated for a long time though so seeing them when we are all together does make me feel sick to my stomach. She seems to make him happy. I don’t really know much about her but did feel like she flirted with him when he and I were together. Anyway, I don’t know if I should continue to be in this friend group or just find new friends? I feel kind of betrayed by these friends and feel like they act like they are still in college. Thoughts? – P

Hi P!

This sounds like a difficult situation for three reasons: your break-up was mutual, but so is respect; he moved on with someone you know as well; you feel like you have grown out of this friend group and that feeling is compounded by the presence of your ex and his new beau. In my opinion, you need to ask yourself whether you still have feelings for him or not. Other wise, why would any of this matter?

I do think that there’s something magical about the lessons the world wants to teach us, over and over again, until we finally learn. When I was younger, I was incredibly possessive and I wanted to be the best, the hottest, the favorite of all time, always. So I kept getting schooled. My exes kept dating my closest friends. Nothing made me feel more threatened and worthless than thinking about these exes and my friends together. Their relationships meant that I didn’t matter at all.

But my torment (and my envy) grew out of my fixation on being the best (not to mention my tendency to prioritize my boyfriends above my close female friends). My delusions of grandeur and my gigantic, hungry ego made the existence of other exceptional women intolerable. Because the truth was, I didn’t really believe my own hype. Underneath my insistence on being AMAZING and SPECIAL, there was a festering scary void. I was secretly sure that no one would ever love me, because I was too broken. I had to be amazing in order to not be disgusting. I had to be special or I was nothing at all. If I wasn’t the one woman that everyone loved and admired the most, I might as well not exist.

I think that for you, it is a possibility that liking your ex’s new girlfriend would detract from your exceptionability. You are not any less for getting along with her or liking her. And maybe you have really grown out of this friend group and it is time to move on. A lot can change in a year and you never know how much things change until you stop meshing with people you used to mesh.

My point is – you can continue to fixate that your friends kept your ex and his new girl from you, that you thought someone should have stood up for you, and that your friends should not include your ex in your friend group. You guys broke up though. And as much as we all think there is such a thing as ex-etiquette, it’s really up to both of you individually how much you want to tell the other person about your new dating life. Although it would have been nice for him to say something, he technically does not owe you an explanation. At the end of the day, you can only control how you react, not how others act. I hope this advice helps you see things a bit more clearly <3 ~ M

M is a medical student from NYC who loves pasta more than life itself, beach vacations, and reading books other than textbooks.