I have this rule, a hard and fast rule. The kind you set for what seems like a good reason but eventually just becomes the way it is- rote and fixed. I am not friends with my exs.
It wasn’t always that way for me. Most of the men I dated were first friends. I love men, black and white, straight forward, easy to figure out. So naturally it was simple to transition back to friendship at the end of a romance.
Let’s be honest. Most of us get together with an ex and hope at some point he’ll go “Damn, what in the world was I thinking?” Even though you don’t want to get back together, for one fleeting moment you hope they’ll ponder the “what if”, “maybe”, a flit of attraction, a dash of regret.
But this wasn’t the reason I set my NO-EX policy. One afternoon hanging out with guys from high school, their girlfriends, the ribbing began. They started poking my Ex about his manhood and his new girlfriend joked about his penis hooking to the left. I laughed instinctively. Suddenly I was the only person, other than her, in the room laughing. My firsthand knowledge revealed I was embarrassed. It felt as though somehow I entered a room where I did not belong and everyone knew it. These are the moments that come from intimate knowledge. Ever since that day I’ve tended as a general rule to steer clear of the business of Exs.
In fact, my rule is so strict that if an Ex is married or dating in real life it is the same in my dreams. I can’t even cross the boundaries in my fantasies. Which is really a bummer, trust me. I’ve dated some spectacular men.
Recently, I broke my rule. Okay in all honestly I broke it a year and a half ago when I began emailing an ex. I discovered he’d just taken off traveling the world. He’d always been someone I enjoyed communicating with and we had a lot in common. So far away, and over email seemed innocuous enough. But trust me emails count.
So after abstaining from men in general for 5 years, due to a very adamant understanding that dating and I are not the closest of fellows, I figured I’d go the easy route to get my toes wet, a night out with my old flame and email companion, including his friends of course. Baby steps people!
And 12 years later I am still attracted to him. Seriously! Grey temples only make him sexier. What is that with men and aging? They get more handsome, while we women…..well it is nothing but aggravating. Instantly reminding me why I’d created the rule to begin with.
It was never his looks that snagged me. It’s his mind. He is immensely talented, creative, has a huge heart and loves musical theater (No, he’s not gay). From the beginning of our relationship my attraction began through emails, words, a turn of phrase, a quick wit. He could make me laugh. He still does.
So am I sorry we met face to face? Hell no, you can’t have too many good people in your life.
I can hear DT² cheering from Israel. Having sworn off dating all together she is no doubt thrilled I was even willing to spend a night out where a man I’m attracted to is involved. And then to laud the ideals of relationship- her cup overflows. I swear when I finally kiss someone she will demand an Ussie.
Connecting with the first Ex was my doing. I may have opened the flood gates with our outing. Suddenly my Exs have been making appearances in my life and dreams. It as if the universe wants to test my readiness. Somewhere my rule around exs and pondering dating again collided.
Enter my first ex-Husband, stage far left field. The one whose mother informed him I was dying in hospice of cancer. He called wanting to touch in, know I’m okay. I said, “Not dead”. He wondered if I’d be willing to meet in person. I couldn’t for the life of me think why not. I’ve learned life is short. Why had I made such a stupid rule? We set up lunch.
This is the husband I had instant star-crossed, colliding, boom, and smash attraction with. We crashed and burned as spectacularly as we fell in love. Between us the attraction was palpable in a room.
I’m worried that feeling will still exist. I am worried it won’t- secretly I hope I’m still capable of that kind of passion. Regardless, the outcome will be the same. Like the boundary I draw in my dreams, I draw a clear line in real life. These are men I once loved and cherished. I am happy to know they found a match that works for them, that they are building their lives and I want them to find happiness.
The recruiter assured me, at 3am when my anxiety took over, that the feeling wouldn’t be there. And even if it was he would do something stupid to quickly remind me why we divorced and cause me to admire his wife even more. We shall see.
Well, they say things come in threes. As you know from my Friday post, my little sis facebooked ex-Husband #2 about my Big C. He of course won’t contact me. He has knowledge of the no-ex policy and frankly benefitted from never having to be in the room with another man who has shared my bed. But I’d be lying if I said this fact didn’t irritate me. It was immensely comforting to know that my death would impact Hubbie 1. His sadness served as testament that our marriage mattered, our love counted for something. I wanted this to be true for Hubbie 2 as well.
The rule of three satisfied I thought it was all over. But when it rains it pours. The universe and I had landed on the same wave length.
My mad move day loomed, a last second availability to get into my house and grab my stuff. This was a smash and grab folks. I needed more bodies and everyone was away for the Labor Day holiday.
My mind went to the Tinknocker. The last man I dated before closing the gates. When we broke up he’d said, “The worst part of all is I know I’ll never get to talk to you again.” That darn hard and fast rule. Well, as they say rules are meant to be broken. He is a good man and a phenomenal mover. His muscle and my eye for space made one heck of skill set when moving BFH (Bitch from Hell) & Hubbie (BFHH) from a three bedroom apartment to 800 Sq ft. And I knew if I asked he’d happily help. I also heard his new girlfriend would be a kick-ass addition to the moving party.
Just as I was considering calling him, he called BFH who was standing next to me. Talk about the universe conspiring. His father was visiting for the weekend so she didn’t ask him to help us move. But I couldn’t help thinking there is something much larger at work here.
In the end I think all my exs are showing up to remind me of what I love about intimate relationship and to clear the way for something new to arrive. My walls are coming down; my heart is opening up again to the possibility that love may still have a place. And once again, I feel free to call some terrific men friend.