You Need Help: Your Friend’s a Tool But Your Other Friend’s Ex Isn’t, Also: Jealousy

Hello and welcome to another rousing installment of You Need Help! This has traditionally been done by way of individual Formspring accounts, Autostraddle’s Tumblr and a Formspring Friday column, which has all been very fun and insightful. But, because Formspring has a character limit and we’re wildly optimistic w/r/t our time-management skills, we thought we’d go one further and let you use our ASS private messaging to share advice-related feelings, too.

For more info on sending in questions, see the bottom of this post. Let’s get down to bossing people around on the internet! Today we’re gonna talk about exes, jealousy and drunk straight girls, which — let’s face it — are the best kind of straight girls. Here we go!

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Q:
My straight girl friend kept drunkenly kissing me at a party last night even though her boyfriend was there and I told her it was weird. Now I can’t stop over-analyzing it. How do I figure out what my feelings are doing?

A:
Your friend is a tool. That’s my first instinct. If this situation involved all heterosexuals — like the straight girl, her boyfriend and another guy instead of you — I would still think she was a tool. But! Because it does involve you and you’re a queer girl, I’m especially irritated by her. I guess there’s a chance that she didn’t mean any harm and would feel terrible if she knew that you were over-analyzing your feelings now, but I’m not giving her the benefit of the doubt. Nope.

Your friend is a tool. Tell her I said that.

Q:
Do I tell my girlfriend I am jealous of her new friendship with a girl she once said she found beautiful? This girl beats me in every catagery- she is beautiful and interesting and well-traveled. She has a boyfriend but she might be bisexual. 

A:
I normally think you should share every last feeling with your girlfriend, but actually that’s going to backfire at least 10% of the time. This would be one of those times. Jealousy is a thing that’s born entirely inside your head. That’s not to say that it isn’t sometimes valid and based in actual reality, but the feelings you feel — those come straight from your interpretation of things.

And sometimes your interpretation of things is the most relevant part of a situation, like “When you called me a wool sweater, it made me feel sad and itchy.” Because in this case, the person who hurt your feelings has actively done something — maybe they said you were as useless as a wool sweater, for example — and you don’t want them to do it again. You want them to understand why being called a wool sweater is offensive and in order to feel safe around this person, you need to believe they won’t say it again. This kind of exchange is useful for the future of your relationship.

Get it?

But with jealousy, it’s all you. You can’t say, “When your friend is beautiful, it makes me feel inferior.” Because what is she going to do? Only have ugly friends? Is she going to ask her beautiful friends to stop being so beautiful? No. There’s nothing she can do here to change the way you feel about yourself, because this isn’t about being called a mean name or someone dismissing your feelings — this is about YOU.

Wait, let me start at the beginning: sometimes girls are beautiful. One girl being beautiful doesn’t take away from another girl being beautiful. Smart girls don’t make other girls stupid. Funny girls don’t make other girls bland. One girl’s possible bisexuality doesn’t take away from another girl’s gayness, either. And if this girl finds a way to make her hair the softest and shiniest it can ever be, it won’t take away from how cute your hair looked yesterday. Your hair looked really cute yesterday! Mine didn’t, but maybe it will today. That doesn’t matter. She doesn’t matter. You matter!

Also ‘jealousy’ is a blanket term, like ‘anger,’ that doesn’t really explain anything or exist on its own; it never gets to the source. You’re not jealous, actually — your feelings are from something else. If I feel jealous of a person, it’s usually because I’m embarrassed about something in my own life that I know I could’ve done better. So I’m embarrassed, not jealous. Like if a girl has a great ass, and my gf happens to notice, my number one feeling isn’t that I hate this girl for having the great ass, or that I hate my gf for looking, it’s GOD I WISH I’D DONE MORE YOGA LAST WEEK. I AM LAZY. I SHOULD’VE DONE YOGA INSTEAD OF WATCHING DISAPPEARED ON NETFLIX. SHIT. Because really, I should’ve done more yoga last week, you know? The girl with great ass can have that great ass, I want my own great ass, which is subjective, really, and maybe I should’ve used an example involving cupcakes or something, but the truth is that I don’t really care about baking, so it would’ve lacked authenticity.

If you feel jealous, take some time to get to what you’re really feeling. If what’s bothering you turns out to be something about yourself that you can and want to improve, great! Get started! If it’s an inferiority complex about how close together your eyes are or how you wish your legs were longer, let it go. Just let it the fuck go. Your legs will never get longer and there are your eyeballs, right where they’re gonna be. The end! And guess what — this is the best part and that’s why I saved it for last — your girlfriend is dating YOU, punk. Not that girl or another girl, but YOU.

And yes, sometimes we date people who fuck with our heads and do shady things that make us crazy with self-doubt, jealousy and depression, and those people should be forced to squeeze lemon juice onto their yeast infections, but I’m assuming this isn’t your situation. If it is, break up with her. Head games that lead to jealousy are NOT your fault and if your girlfriend is fucking with your feelings like that, we think she’s a tool, too.

Q:
Do you think it is wrong to date a friend’s ex? How would you tell your friend that you’re dating their ex?

A:
Do I think it’s wrong? Have you counted how many gay girls are within a 25 mile radius of you? Not only is it not wrong, but it’s also probably not avoidable. I understand why you’d be concerned, though. There are ~three things that may cause your friend to have a difficult time with this situation and they are:

1. How/why their relationship ended. If the break-up was especially horrible or traumatic, just the thought of her ex might be too much for her to handle. If the ex did something really nasty, like cheat on her, your friend probably won’t want you to date someone who’s capable of such atrocities.

2. She still has feelings for her. This is a judgment call — you could either let her lingering feelings trump whatever you’ve started feeling and bow out of things, or! You could see where your feelings take you, based on the fact that you have but one life to live, etc. No two feelingsfests of this nature are the same and each will require that you take several things into consideration before making your decision, you know?

3. She wonders if either of you had feelings for each other while they were still together, or some other form of self-doubt. This is rare, I think, but sometimes late at night after we’ve consumed the entire bottle of $3.99 cab, we may start to wonder, “Were they planning this? Did [person] use me to get closer to [person]?? In what ways did I fail with [ex] where [friend] is now succeeding? Am I a failure? Should I make a list and take it to my therapist tomorrow?” This kind of thinking is usually just ridiculous and unfounded and typically only happens in movies or on soap operas. Also, it will probably pass quickly, unless A) she’s right or B) she’s crazy. If either A) or B) are the case, there’s really nothing you can do, I think.

I would say that you tell her face-to-face if possible. Wait, sometimes it’s better to relay information in written form, so the person has time to gather their thoughts and calm themselves. But also, having time to gather their thoughts can sometimes mean having time to drive themselves a little nuts with assumptions and misinterpretations, too. This will be another judgment call on your part. Take all that you know about your friend and this situation into consideration and determine which form of communication would work best! There, that wasn’t really advice at all, was it? You win some/lose some.

Ok, your turn! Have you dated your friend’s ex or spoken up about jealousy or kissed your drunk straight friend in front of her boyfriend? How did those things work out for you? What should these people do? What’s your favorite $3.99 cab? I like Green Fin!

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Laneia

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22 Comments

  1. I dated a lady friend’s ex-boyfriend, actually (the poor lad generally ends up with queer girls somehow). She had broken up with him a year prior, and I had been friends with him since before they started dating. I talked to her about it, but that didn’t help at all. She was okay with it at first and then flipped out. Four years later, the drama is ongoing, even though I’ve tried to mend fences on many occasions (and the lad and I split up!)

  2. Dating my bi best friends ex. It is troublesome some of the time, because said best friend is also my ex… It has worked out well though, she is a pretty understanding person, and is in a great relationship with a man she may marry. It was scary in the beginning, especially telling her that I had feelings for her, but I took it up a level and asked permission first, she gave it to me, though I don’t think she thought we would work out well.

  3. Drunken kisses with straight girls in front on any guy is BS! No joke, I’ve kind of had issues with this a couple times and well it led to nothing but issues. I say TOOL whether intentionally or unintentionally. Maybe my bad expierences but I have had so many issues where something like this happens and then it just got worse and I allowed my mind to wander through my emotions. Then I ended up with being all torn up and eventually having to distance myself or set boundaries. I guess let this one slide but don’t start over-analyzing because it leads to problems from my expierence.

    • Thanks… I was the person who asked that question.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that she was unintentionally being a tool.

      But I guess karma exists because she ended up tripping, falling, and fracturing her nose on the way home from said party. (Which I course I ended up cleaning her up because her boyfriend and everyone else was too drunk to get her home at that point). I think I’ve forgiven her since her nose looks like it hurts a lot.

      I think I should probably suggest to her that just because we’re the only two girls in our major doesn’t mean she needs to outdrink all the guys at every party we go to.

      I know this comment is rambling and no one will care but whatever.

      tl,dr: Alcohol leads to problems. Drink responsibly.

      • You could also suggest her that just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean kissing you “doesn’t count” and “isn’t serious” (would she have kissed another guy in front of her bf? nah but it’s ok with you because lesbianism is a joke!), and that you’re not interested in being her disposable toy she can use to give boners to her boyfriend and all the guys around.

        Sorry but I have a very low tolerance level for assholery and I don’t believe the cheap excuse that alcohol turns people into unintentional assholes, from experience it just brings out the closeted asshole they have always been.

  4. Sometimes when people date my exes, it helps me get over them even if I am cranky at first. This even works if it is a friend dating my ex!

    And sometimes there’s a weird creepy thing where I keep trying to vicariously have a relationship with my ex through their new girlfriend. That’s not the best. Don’t let that happen to you! I recommend…I don’t know.

  5. When I told my best friend of ten years that I was seeing her ex she stopped speaking to me (I told her over the phone and she hung up and that’s it). They had been together a year and a half and they were miserable. They’d broken up once before and I had been pining since they got back together, but I was good and did it quietly. Then they broke up and a few weeks later A and I talked about our feelings and then a week or so after that we talked some more and decided to tell N before anything happened. We did and voila, friendship over. But totally worth it.

    It’s now been a year and a half and I’m happily still in a relationship and am no longer sad/angry about my friend who is no more.

    The truth is – everyone does it.You can’t control your feelings or who you happen to fall for, it’s stupid to try. You kind of just have to accept that most people have an ex and somebody usually gets hurt when somebody else moves on. The best you can do is be honest and respectful because if she’s your friend she probably already knows that you have feelings for her ex. And feeling like the people you care about are lying and hiding things from you is the worst.

    And I tend to find that people who have post relationship rules and codes and ethics (you can’t go to my bar; you can’t hang out with my friends; you can’t date anyone within a ten mile radius of my house) that limit other people’s behaviours are just floundering in an attempt to control their feelings.

    That being said – I once had an ex who dated my housemate to make me jealous and that was just stupid and not cool.

  6. Your actions (i.e. conscious flirting) are controllable and will likely lead to your feelings. You can choose to go for the ex of a friend or you can choose to look past that option. Therefore, just for the record, pretending like you “can’t help it” when it comes to being with your friends’ exes is a lame excuse that your friends won’t buy.
    So anyway, I would say that dating exes of friends is not wrong, but weighing the consequences is important. If your friend matters to you and is going to be hurt by your choices, you should probably choose otherwise. In most situations, there are plenty of other people out there to date or hook up with, and so hurting the people you care about isn’t necessary and/or worth it.

    It’s almost always hard to see an ex with someone else, even if one is over them. So I generally say that exes of friends ARE off limits unless everyone has agreed otherwise. Chicks before dicks, chicks before licks, you know… friends should be the priority, not your impulsive interest in being wanted or playing games or having a fling or even a curiosity about the possibility of a serious relationship.

    Don’t act on what you want most (having your friend) based on what you want now (hooking up with / dating their ex.)

    • I think you have some really good points here, I just want to chime in that your argument probably only works for city-dwellers. If you live in a very small town or rural area, like I do, there are probably not “plenty of other people out there to date or hook up with”, so the dating etiquette guidelines need to be adjusted accordingly.

    • I don’t think you can control who you have feelings for – is that not the mantra of so many queer little kids?

      I don’t see the point of everyone being miserable. If you stay away from the ex, then both she and you are sad and your friend is still sad anyway because of said breakup (if she’s not sad, then it’s not a problem, right?). Of course, if you just want to hookup or make-out then it’s probably not worth it (but maybe it is, who knows?).

      Anyway, a good friend would love you and accept your feelings for what they are and want you to be happy. Or is that not how friendship works anymore?

      • I have to agree with you SO MUCH on this. I’ve been on both sides of the dating-a-friend’s-ex situation, and it sucks either way.

        However. Two of my friends (one of whom I was hooking up with/ kind of dating) fell for each other but they were too noble to date after the mess that was our break-up. It makes me sad because although it would have hurt like a motherfucker at the time, I no longer have feelings for the person in question. Ergo, they should have just gone for it, my feelings be damned. Now I feel like I may have denied them their happiness together by making such a fuss over it then.

        Watch the movie Atonement for a good (if extreme) example. It’s never a good idea to get in the way of two people who have feelings for each other.

  7. I dated my best friend’s ex for a little while. It was kind of awkward at the time, but in the end, the more important of the two relationships is the one that lasted – my best friend and I are still best friends; neither of us have spoken to our mutual ex-girlfriend in years.

  8. The “friend dating your ex” thing is SUCH A SHITTY THING.

    I really agree with the poster who said you CAN help it. There are people that you can choose to look past and get over. In the same way you can get over a girl that broke up with you, or a straight girl, or whatever. My matra as a queer kid was not “I fall helplessly in love with any and all chicks.” I ONLY fall in love with girls and can’t help what sex/gender I’m attracted to, but to some extent I choose WHICH girls I let myself fall for and/or fall for and GET OVER.

    That said there are a lot of complicating factors here at play. I think it does matter how traumatic the break up is, whether or not your friend is over it (or if she’s not over it but in a stable relationship with someone new, if she should b over it for the sake of her new girl), how many girls there REALLY are (if you are in a city there are a lot of girls ok…I hope to God there are a lot of girls…><), etc. It also matters how serious your feelings for the friend's ex are and how seriously those feelings are returned.

    You can choose to go after the girl while knowing you are killing your single/depressed/still in love with her friend inside, and then you can lose that friendship, and you can feel so happy about it if you want. I would hope I am never your "friend" though.

  9. But yeah you can and should tell me if you’re dating my ex, proverbial Friend, because if you’re being a dick about it (there are other girls, I trusted you, I’m hurting, whatever), I should reserve the right to hang up that damn phone and never speak to you again/focus on relationships where I feel like my friends actually have my back.

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