Friday, July 18, 2008

The semi-annual awkward fest

Every six to nine months, The Ex and I decide that a catch-up coffee is in order.


This time around was brought about by a text message I sent after seeing his apparent twin on the street... something akin to "Were you just on Main Street?"

When his (tres, tres jealous, as some of you may remember) girlfriend texted me back from his phone, I knew he was in trouble.

And in trouble he was, as I found out from him the next day, when he told me that my clearly salacious text had led to her accusations of our secret plans to get back together.

I guess he assumed we might as well meet for coffee in the aftermath of her regular bouts of insecurity, rather than face another round at a later date.

Meetings with him are always rife with an odd contrast of sorts. A lot about him is familiar-- the smell of his car, or the way in which he orders his coffee. Yet the talk always feels so shallow. We are usually able to make it about an hour by virtue of sheer catch-up-- the lives of ourselves and others-- marriages, babies, houses purchased, job changes, holidays, and so forth. At around the hour point, after we've gotten down to the updates on grandparents, things start to get a little slow, and we veer into "Are you excited about the new Batman?" territory. 

There is also a contrast in our manner of tackling conversations about our current partners. I circle around it a little bit, using terms such as "we" to describe my life. He asks me no questions. While talking about the city's rental market, I mention nonchalantly that the Duke and I are living together, he winces almost automatically, and tries to cloak it by an artificially casual "oh yeah". He avoids the relationship small talk, and jumps head first into the deep end, going into the same story he tells on each of our biannual meetings about her jealousy and their arguments. I feel as though I am being baited, and thus bite my tongue, though I can't help but retort "She does know that women make up 51% of the population, right?" when he tells me she was angry about him going to a beach without her because there would be girls there.

We end things before we cross the uncomfortable silences line, with a smile, and a vow to meet up again in the next six months or so. He adds in "... which should be the next time I'm allowed to see you."

And although I do appreciate the light level of contact that we have been able to maintain, as I ride the train back home, I can't help but wonder what we talked about for six years.

38 comments:

the almost right word said...

i run into similar situations with girlfriends, people who i once considered to be a "best friend." we catch up about the general stuff and, when that's done, what's left?

there is certainly more to be said when two people are sharing their lives, right? i mean, as far my relationship goes with these girlfriends -- we certainly had a lot more to talk about when we lived in the same city, went for dinner, coffee, etc. i think the same goes for romantic relationships.

i love this post. you tell it well.

Rachel said...

I have a close guy friend from college that is also good friends Dan. All of his girlfriends get jealous over how close we are, but nothing had ever happened between us, so it seems like they are over reacting.

Your ex's girlfriend needs to relax. You only see each other a couple times a year.

Elaine said...

Ha, as i am sure you have gathered from my post, my ex is one of my closest friends. If the man I am with can't handle that... then he doesn't trust me. I wouldnt give up my close friend for some guy i barely know but just happen to be attracted to.

I vow never to date a jealous man.

Dexter Colt said...

I was good friends with one of my exes (emphasis on was). We'd do the same sort of thing...meet semi-annually (more often annually) to chat about life and what not. Her husband-to-be didn't like it one bit, and eventually put an end to it.

I dunno. On the one hand, I can understand jealously. It is a normal human emotion. But, trusting your significant other is paramount to a good relationship. I guess I'm more trusting than jealous.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Tell me again why you still meet like this?

Ant said...

I was just going to ask exactly the same question as the comment above: why do you meet up with this guy?

There's clearly little in it for either of you but stress and angst, from previous descriptions he sounds like a bit of a twat anyway, plus the mental girlfriend would be a factor that I'd want to minimise if I were you...

Is it nostalgia? A need to maintain all friendships no matter how draining? And... you sent the original text! What's up with that? You know my thoughts on the whole ex-thing: jettison the relationship, such as it is, and put your energy into the good thing you've got now...

(Sorry, rant over!)

Princess Pointful said...

I spent six years with the guy... that's a lot of life to share together. We had the blessing of ending of good terms, but we don't force the pretense of a close friendship. Yeah, his current girlfriend is a nutcase, but is it really such a horrible thing that I want to know what is going on in his life (including getting to see the pet that was once mine, too) once or twice a year?

I don't mean to come across as bitchy, but I like to think I actually have a pretty decent balance worked out. Most people, after that long of a relationship, either remain too overinvolved, or never talk again. I like the fact we can drift off while not needing to remain utter strangers.

twentysomethingandclueless said...

I think it's nice that you see each other every once in a while. :) His gf sounds like a bit of a nutcase. haha

I hope one day my ex and I will be able to, well, be semi-friends at least.

Crushed said...

I think its good to keep on good terms with your exes.

It's not always possible, but there's no reason why it should be.

When you spent this much time togeher, obvuiously you form a major part of eachother's life history, and that will always matter.

Dan Mega said...

That's pretty interesting. If you feel like its almost forced, why bother? Is it just to see what he is up to?

Alexa said...

once the pleasantries are exchanged and it veers into how's the weather conversation it is always a downward spiral. soooooooo awkward.

also, why is his girlfriends responding to his texts?!? pus*sy.

Arielle said...

Sounds like he's dating a veritable psycho!

wee-h said...

im good friends with 2 of my exes and when people ask why, i think about why i spent such a significant amount of time with them in the first place. those reasons are why they are still in my life right now. when people stop contributing something thats when its time to move on.

Ant said...

Oh man, I've just read my comment back - sorry to overcook the rant (I promise it's only cos I care... :-) )

Your reasons are fair enough, and yeah, if you can keep a friendship like that civil, it's all to the good. I suppose I'm just suspicious because based on what you've written about this guy previously, I don't think he's quite seeing things the same way and that at some stage there'll be problems...

Right, I'm now going to retract my large and ungainly nose from the whole affair.

Princess Pointful said...

No worries, Ant. While writing the post, I already knew that you were going to be calling me on it :). I also know that you are pretty much my longest reader, so you have been witness to some frustrated posts in the past.

brandy said...

Man! Girls like that give the rest of us a bad name. It's always awkward when you spend time with someone and realize that you no longer have anything to say to them. Especially when they are someone who in the past you could never say enough to. I always hate those moments because I feel like they are thinking the same thing. And then we are just two people sitting at a wobbly patio table wondering what we ever used to talk about.

And I'm with the first commentor- you told this all so well.

chasinglibby said...

that so bittersweet...retrospect is so odd! In that moment of time...even if it's years, it's like you can't stop raving about a person, thinking about every little thing.

then...you emerge out of the bubble and only then you start to wonder!!

oh and ps. why are we not fb friends yet? add me lady!

distractedspunk said...

Hm. I'm friends with all of my significant exes but one, and I chat with many of the boys I've hooked up with in the past as well.

My guess is he still speaks of you highly, and that threatens her. Girls usually require SOMETHING to go off on, and he probably says or does something to imply he thinks you were the best he ever did.

I guess sometimes, it's nice to keep tabs on your past.

IMFB said...

Oh I love the awkward ex meetups. Fan-tastic.

Silverstar said...

Kudos to you, I have never been able to be friends with exes, just too frickin' awkward.

So@24 said...

Absolutely love this entry. I thought I was the only who blogged about my sporadic meet ups with the ex.

You nailed everything perfectly; through the slightly-awkward, tip toe about relationships and "what's there to talk about when both have caught up?"

And some on that jealous? Red flags all over the place, I feel bad for the guy.

captain corky said...

I met up with my ex a couple of times after we broke up, but after a while I felt like it was time to sever ties. Your reasons for wanting to have somewhat of a relationship with him make sense, but I'm not so sure that his do, especially since he's complaining about her to you.

lissa said...

great post. i felt myself nodding my head through a lot of it. i've never really been able to make it work the whole friends with an ex especially when there's so many topics that are too awkward to even broach. i think it's great that you try and that you do catch up even if it falls flat.

Beth said...

It's amazing how things change when you're no longer "in" someone's life - you do end up questioning all that time you were together.
"The past is another country."

deutlich said...

ugh. his current gf sounds like a fruit tart. I just can't get down w/that kind of stupidity.

NamesAreHardToPick said...

Six years? Holy Science that is long. But I could not agree more that when you look back sometimes you can only wonder, how did that every happen. His girlfriend sounds like a nutcase; steer clear in that territory.

Bayjb said...

I give you a lot of credit for doing that. I'm not nearly as friendly with any of my exes and I can't imagine having a "regular" touch base with them.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

I felt the same way when I last tried to converse with my most serious girlfriend. She is still on good terms with my mother, so civility is in order. I too cannot really fathom what we talked about for the same amount of time as you.

With my next serious girlfriend, I made sure that I broke up with her in the most offensive way possible to avoid any further contact.

Job done

lspoon said...

I haven't seen an ex in over 3 years, but I'm sure our encounters would be very similar!

Crashdummie said...

wow.... he is totally whipped isn't he? Gosh.

I have actually never heard of that, catching up with your ex every six months. But i do think it is a very healthy approach, cuz u do realize what u have now.

Carrie said...

I don't get the jealousy thing. At all. If you can't trust the person you're with, then why are you with them??

Yoda said...

By golly! I would never even attempt to meet with my ex, let alone every six months. If we did, there'd be only one person standing at the end of the coffee!

Funny, how when we began dating, we used to have extra long coffee dates and we played scrabble at the coffee house. And now ...

Paula said...

Man, their relationship is soooo not gonna last . . . she is WAAAAYYYY too jealous and he clearly ain't enjoying it!

SMARTBuddy said...

But are you loooking forward to the new Batman???...!

longredcape said...

Ugh, jealous girlfriends are the worst. I dated this one guy for about a year and a half, and we didn't have a bad breakup. We remained cordial to each other and we say hi whenever we see each other. His (now ex) girlfriend, though? Every time she saw me, she gave me the ugliest look, like she wished I would die right on the spot. She didn't EVEN try to hide it.

I wanted to say, "Honey, you can HAVE HIM. I do NOT want him. He's YOUR problem now."

eric1313 said...

Sorry. I feel like a stalker now. I've read and commented on all the front page stories now in one night.

But I am downloading a bunch of movies in the background (shhhh! Don't tell Viacom!), and you have provided me with vast amounts of entertainment in the process. Sure I could have read a bunch of blogs. But something about your writing always gets me. It's just the perfect combination of true wit and high intellect. Delicious, as you would put it. very few single words could describe it better than that.

Awkwardness comes natural to me too, as you can see.

Glad you understand me. And sorry to have been gone for so long. Just know that I did miss your writings and our lively if brief correspondences.

Thanks for being you. Yep, I know, it comes natural.

Peace out

eric1313 said...

Ahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

For shame--I didn't hear about Hossa coming here! But that was on my wish list, to be sure. He was dynamite against us in the finals. He could have been our undoing, if his teammates had risen to the challenge with him.

You're a bigger Wings fan than I am, lady! I was unaware.

I hope your team can lure Sundin out west, that would be awesome to team him up with Naslund and the Sedin twins. You'd have an exciting team for sure.

And you know what? I posted promptly. Why put it off? I have tons of old stuff that you all have never seen, and it's perfectly acceptable to publish that stuff, Benji does it all the time, and it works great for him.

I'll be back to writing more soon enough--heck I wrote a doozy tonight at Sing's blog, a weird poem, but good in spite of that.

I'm so glad you dropped by. Yes, I'll always keep in touch. I told you I would. You're a sweet friend, long distance or no.

I'm the one in the wrong for neglecting all of you.

But I'll make it up, you'll see.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

It's funny how quickly things can change with a bit of time and perspective.