Ms. Behavior©: Ex on the Brain

Dear Ms. Behavior:

Everyone has one ex they still think about, right? I’m not obsessed with mine, but mostly I regret that we didn’t end up at least being friends. Kris was smart, interesting, and very funny. Our chemistry was strong but we weren’t together long, mainly because of bad timing: I was involved in a sticky breakup and there was a period of overlap before it was over. I told Kris from the beginning that I was too raw for a serious relationship and needed some time, but she didn’t understand why I couldn’t jump right out of the relationship I was in and into one with her. Ultimately, it all blew up into a big dramatic mess with the woman I was with, and Kris also felt that I’d made promises to her that I didn’t keep. She was hurt and I felt bad about it, so even though I broke up with girlfriend # 1, it soon seemed too complicated to remain friends with Kris.

Seven years have passed and I’ve happily settled with another partner. A few weeks ago, I saw Kris from a distance in a public place. I didn’t approach her, but I later sent an email apologizing for my having cut off from her during our breakup. I also said that I hope we can some day be friends. She wrote back a harsh note about how our whole relationship was a joke and I wasn’t ever available, and she was never really in love with me anyway.

That hurt my feelings and I also know that it wasn’t true. I’ve composed many more letters in my head, but I don’t know if I should actually send them. I’d like to write back and acknowledge that she’s right that I wasn’t available to be in a relationship at the time, but now I’m available to be friends. (What is there to lose?) Should I also argue with her statement that she was never really in love with me? I know she was. Or should I try to let it go and forget the whole thing?

—Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Dear Should I or Shouldn’t I?

Look deep inside for a moment, please. You say you’re “happily settled” with your current partner, but what if you’re actually bored? What if you harbor a secret wish–hidden from even yourself–to stir things up with Kris? It’s easy to reawaken dormant chemistry, especially if Kris is as smart and funny as you remember.

Here are some clues to the fact that you may be off-kilter here: First, Why do you care that Kris says she was never in love with you? If you just want to be friends, why does it matter how she felt about you back then?

Next, historically speaking, it sounds like you like to triangulate. So if you don’t want to end up creating a whirlwind of drama, at least pay attention and be conscious of your choice. Make a decision about your level of commitment to your current relationship and honor whatever that is. If you want to leave, that’s fine, but make a decision; don’t just blow things up again.

Also–unless you’re a polyamorist in a relationship with another practiced polyamorist–here’s some advice that will probably be useful to you in the future: If you want someone you’re dating to believe that you’re not available, you must align your actions with your words. Think of it this way: What would you think if your girlfriend were to tell you that she’s not actually available while she had her hand inside you? Okay, so maybe the timing would be slightly better and she’d disclose her unavailability slightly before or after the act, but either way, if you’re both female, this type of behavior can produce cognitive dissonance. Especially if she looks into your eyes (or your vulva) and tells you that she loves you, but then somewhere between 10 minutes and 24 hours later, tells you that she’s not ready for a relationship.

Which reminds me, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least make the occasional corrective attempt more general: Lesbians, please align your actions with your words. Yes, yes, you’ve given all the protective warnings that that exist in this land: “We are just friends who have sex. In fact, we are Fuck Buddies! We won’t get emotionally attached!” Blah blah blah blah. But in reality, you are made of flesh. Lesbian flesh at that. So don’t go jumping in front of a train and thinking you will bounce off of it like a rubber duckie. You’re gonna get squashed.

Your honesty won’t make her see you as “damaged and gross.” It will more likely make her feel tender toward you.

Ms. Behavior doesn’t think she needs to tell you not to fake any more orgasms, but it will also help if you make it a practice to not lie about anything. In fact, if your girlfriend asks you if you like her hideous new shoes, say, “No, I think they’re hideous.” If she asks if her snoring awakened you, don’t pretend it didn’t.??If you’re lucky enough to have found The One, don’t blow it. Be kind and clear and truthful, and she’ll probably insist on staying with you forever.

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