A few weeks ago a guy took me on a date to the Mets game. We talked the whole way there on the 7 train, laughed our way through a couple beers and tacos, and before I knew it, it was the ninth inning. We took two subways back into Manhattan, he walked me all the way home across town, kissed me on the cheek goodnight, and told me he’d call me tomorrow.
It was a really fun night with a really great guy—he’s smart, fun, funny, good-looking, and has impeccable manners. By all accounts it was a fabulous first date. Except I already knew him. The guy I dated for those few months in college before I got back together with my ex? It’s his friend and former roommate. Even though it’s been almost nine years, I still got that icky feeling inside. I still talk to the ex-boyfriend, almost everyday in fact, and he’s more a close friend and confidante now than an ex. He even gave me his blessing and told me he didn’t mind if we date. But hanging out with his friend that night, I just couldn’t shake the stigma of their connection.
We have plans to hang out again, and I’m going to give it another chance, but I’m not convinced it’s okay to recycle an ex’s friend. To pick from the recycling bin of an ex’s friend, I think you have to be overwhelmed by the connection—like this is the perfect woman—to make your eco-friendly intentions worthwhile.
There was another guy I went on a few dates with who I really thought I liked. He was charming, with classic good looks, impressive job, and equally impressive apartment. One of my best friends had gone on a few dates with him a few years ago, but it was never anything serious. Naturally, when I had dinner one night with her and two of our other close friends I was gushing. Normally the best friend would be right in the conversation, hanging on to every detail about what he said, where we went, and when we were going to hang out again. This time, she sat staring with an uncomfortable look on her face—one I was neither used to, nor expecting. When she did speak up, it was to recount all the nasty reasons why he wasn’t right for her, and in turn, wouldn’t be right for me.
I thought because a few years had passed, because they were never boyfriend/girlfriend, and, most importantly, because she was now happily soon-to-be engaged that it wouldn’t—shouldn’t—matter. I was wrong.
Even though I’d just finished a delectable plate of ravioli in vodka sauce, I left dinner with a bad taste in my mouth. I never would have entertained this guy coming on to me if I thought it would upset her in any way. We hashed it out over email the next morning, and I took her warning in stride. We agreed that I had to see for myself. A few weeks later, I ended things with him. Everything she had told me about him was right.
In the end maybe recycling is best left to soda cans, water bottles, and old batteries. While there are no hard and fast rules about recycling in the dating world, I’ve learned that there’s usually a good reason why it didn’t work out the first time around.
REDUCE the amount of times you get hurt by doing your best to recognize a woman with bad intentions or bad behavior. REUSE an ex only when you trust she is genuine about how she’s going to do things differently the next time around. And let’s agree to only RECYCLE a friend’s ex after checking with them first.
Next Week: Jamie goes to dating boot camp and shares what she learned.