Dear Carolyn: I’ve been dating a woman steadily for four months. Late last year, she dated another man for about six weeks, and they were quickly intimate. Then he broke it off with her because he supposedly was still hung up over his ex. Then he contacted her with a phony apology and they again were intimate until he broke it off with her again.
They’re still in touch regularly, and she has gone out with him at least twice in the last four months. He’s not involved with anybody else, and I think he’s just trying to keep her around to satisfy his sexual urges. She insists they’re just friends and won’t let anything happen. She has numerous other guy friends and that doesn’t bother me, but this guy makes me particularly uncomfortable. I would appreciate any insights.
Friendships with exes make the most sense when there has actually been a friendship — when there’s a broken-in companionship worth preserving — and when the physical connection either never sparked or sputtered out.
Neither seems true here and, since I’m going off your description, you apparently agree. They have a few months of apparently good sexual chemistry that would have continued if he hadn’t abruptly split. If you wanted to have unfinished business with someone, that’s a splendid way to get it.
So, yeah, I see being “particularly uncomfortable.” If this explanation makes sense to you, then by all means, say so to her.
Just know the best-case scenario is that she stops talking to him because you want that, leaving unchanged the fact that she wants to stay in touch (best case) or leave her options open (what we’re all thinking, no?).
It also won’t change the fact that, analysis aside, she has every right to be friends with anyone she wants, even a recent sex partner whom she apparently didn’t choose to stop dating. Your corresponding right is to stop dating someone who stays in touch with a recent sex partner whom she apparently didn’t choose to stop dating.
I should also mention, though we’re in I-don’t-believe-it-but-do-believe-in-being-thorough territory, that just because a guy and a friendship seem highly and obviously suspect doesn’t mean they are.
So. If you can accept that being in the early stages of any relationship means having to outlast various rivals, exes and ghosts, then keep dating her and see where things go. If instead the presence of this ex has you constantly looking over your shoulder, then it’s probably time to move on.
Dear Carolyn: Two years ago, I told my nephew’s girlfriend I don’t drink. She insisted, “Come on, one won’t hurt.” I told her I am a recovering alcoholic and thought that would be the end of it.
And yet at every get-together she offers me a glass of wine. I have heard people tell her I don’t drink. Can you give me any insight? I just say “no thanks” and walk away.
A Little Whine With That?
You can ask her point-blank what gives — not that she'll admit she’s oblivious or cruel, the two possibilities I’m seeing. For what it’s worth, both warrant pity more than anything else, since neither the clueless nor heartless enjoy much emotional depth.
After that, “No thanks” and walking away sounds just right.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.