Question: I dated my ex-boyfriend for six years and we broke up about a year ago. When we broke up we decided to just be friends and now we hang out with all the same people. Recently, though, I noticed my ex has been hanging out with this one girl whenever we go out. When we go to the bars, they are always dancing and hanging out together. I understand we are broken up but it is just weird for me. The other night, I drank way too much and completely bitched him out for hanging out with this girl because he was all over her in front of me. Now he is mad at me. I don't have feelings for him anymore (in that way), but I wish he wouldn't be all over her in front of me. I would like to continue to be friends with him but it is hard, can you help? (San Francisco, CA)
Social Shrink: Being friends with an ex is always hard. But get with it – do you want him as a boyfriend, as a friend, or what? You seem to be okay with your relationship ending, but you’re not okay with him flirting with other girls, yet you’re okay hanging out with him socially as just a friend...? Okay, we’re going to try and keep up with you…
Listen: of course you will have lingering feelings for your ex, especially if you’ve dated him for so long. It’s natural and understandable. What isn’t understandable or rational is for you to get mad at him for moving on and flirting with other girls. Do you think it’s reasonable for you to tell him to not flirt with other girls in your presence? It’s your choice to hang out with him as a friend and your choice to be exposed to that. It is asking for a lot, especially if you consider him as just a friend and that’s what friends do around their friends – they have fun, go out, and flirt… especially if they are SINGLE!
Remember, he is an ex for a reason and he deserves his own relationships – just as much as you do as well. If you were to be having fun and flirting with a guy, would you get upset if your ex requested you didn’t do that to him? Turn the tables and think of what your answer would be. If you aren’t willing to compromise with that request, you may need to reevaluate how you can hang out with your ex in social situations. Maybe it’s best you two only hang out in neutral places where flirting can’t take place: at dinner (when you both can have one-on-one convos), the movies (since interactions with others is limited), or someplace boring like the library (since you can’t talk in there and, let’s get real, no one else will be there for you to get jealous of)?
As time passes you will be able to accept the fact that your ex is moving on and finding other girls. You will do the same. The only thing we recommend is to no longer try to control your ex and his actions – you gave up that right when you both broke up! Hope this helps!