I’m not really friends with anyone I’ve seriously dated for … reasons. Bogart, on the other hand, is pretty good friends with his ex. As someone with relatively little adult relationship experience, facing down someone else’s six-year history can be
terrifying a smidge daunting at times. I’ve never committed to anything for six years, let alone paid it frequent visits once we parted ways—unless you count my Rainbow Brite pillow that I’ve had since childhood, and that’s been threatening to grow legs and walk right out of my apartment for years.
I remember exactly when we really got into the details about his previous relationship. He had mentioned her enough for me to dive right in over brunch one day (thanks, mimosas!), peppering him with questions about who ended things and how long ago—you know, the usual breezily-positioned inquisition that’s anything but.
‘It doesn’t bother you that I’m friends with her, does it?’ he asked, so earnestly. ‘Of course not,’ I replied, hoping my voice didn’t reveal the hesitation I already felt creeping in. Even now, it still creeps in. We’re moving in together, something they never did. Why? What makes me/this so different that six months goes places six years didn’t? I want to know all the answers to all the things.
I attribute it to a lovely mix of PTeXD from relationships past (as well as extra shitty exes my friends have had to deal with—we’re talking evil-plotting, evidence-planting, soap-opera-level shit from not-so-lovely people), combined with the fact that I’ve not met her. Instead of having the chance to see her as another friend, appreciate all the ways she helped him grow and mature and prepare for the treat that is me, I just have a whole bunch of tiny Steph freak outs™. ‘It’s not a competition,’ my rational self says. ‘Yeah, but if it were, she’d totally win at being taller/younger/fully vegan/liking his dumb music,’ my asshole brain replies.
To combat this insanity, I gently suggested I would like to meet her (he had mentioned it previously, but much like many things he suggests, this was my first reaction … I like to come to things in my own time, jeez). So we made quasi-plans, I brought homemade vegan granola bars, but said plans fell through. B and I ended up having a good conversation instead, and I basically said that I want to meet her in a location that isn’t our (future) home before she comes over. Not that she’s not welcome, but if I’m meeting someone who regularly used to touch mouths with my person, I want to be on neutral ground. (And what do you say to the person who used to be your person’s person? ‘Thanks for keeping my side of the bed warm,’ or ‘Hey, any advice?’ No, no, methinks neither of those will do.)
It came up again this weekend, while I was giving him a guided tour of my own sordid past. He said it’s basically in her court now, and hey, I will definitely meet her at an upcoming punk show where he’ll be super wasted and she’ll know all his friends and I’ll be way outside of my element (perhaps not an exact quote) trying not to get a Doc Marten to the head as I weave my way out of a mosh pit. I chewed it over, and finally mentioned I’d prefer a more relaxed location, which he totally understood. He came up with another option: she can give us a ride to his mom’s this weekend. Right about there is where I started to question my sanity, since that also seemed … awkward to me. Do I really want to risk being that difficult, the crazy girlfriend, and require yet another solution? Spoiler alert: Yes, yes I do.
As I tend to do, I sought an outside opinion to make sure I wasn’t just fucking nuts. My friend Cinderella summed it up perfectly: It needs to be a place where we’re both comfortable, or both equally uncomfortable. So I went back to poor, patient Bogart and suggested we meet for coffee instead of asking her for a ride like a 15-year-old without a driver’s license (pre-Uber). He agreed that would make it seem less ‘transactional,’ and we’re doing that this weekend. It’s totally acceptable to Irish up my tea in the middle of a Starbucks, right? I am a quarter Irish, and it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, so I think it would really be wrong not to.