Alarming News

November 15, 2005

Could Ken Wheaton be more wrong?

It’s not even his Condi for President delusions this time, it’s his love advice:

This hapless soul had been wronged in a relationship, been treated questionably, then unceremoniously dumped. Not only that, but the dumper wanted to . . . wait for it . . . remain friends.

Yes, the old “remain friends” gambit.

Ken is against remaining friends noting ‘I guess it’s only natural. And by natural, I mean stupid.’

I disagree. Ken mocks the whole idea of being an adult about the situation but that’s exactly what should happen. I’m a big fan of staying friends after a relationship ends.

Yes, circumstances matter and I wouldn’t want to stay friends with someone that had been bad to me but then if someone was bad to me I wouldn’t be the dumpee, but the dumper. That’s the first problem I have with Ken’s post. In it, the dumpee is this loser who stayed with someone that treated them badly and then got dumped. If you’re being treated badly in a relationship, I don’t care if you’re old, fat, bald, ugly, poor and smelly- get out. It’s the simplest advice that is so often ignored. Put yourself above all others and you’ll be ok. You’re the best, you deserve the best, is the person you’re with the best? If they’re not, there’s the door. Settling is just about the saddest thing you can do in your life.

And yes, I’m a mere mortal and haven’t always been treated the way I should’ve been. Well, this is where my constant theme of vengeance comes in. I advise to get revenge then get out. It’ll make you feel better about the whole thing and will level the playing field between you and your now ex-mate. Not everyone is good at vengeance, though, so if need be, forget revenge just go.

Sometimes, the person you’re with is great but they’re just not into you in that way. Well, you liked them when they liked kissing you, do you not like them now that they don’t? Of course you still do. So why not stay friends? If you need some time off before you can become friends, say so. There’s nothing wrong with a break. Staying friends with people you’ve had relationships with is something very special. They know you in a very profound way, you don’t need to explain your family situation or why you do some of the things you do. They already know. I know this isn’t the most unique statement but the best relationships have a solid grounding in friendship. When the romantic side fades and it’s time to go, there’s no reason why the friendship would have to go too.

It all comes back to how you treat yourself and the level of self-respect that you have. If you are good to yourself, you’ll be unlikely to choose mates who will treat you badly. And if things just don’t work out, it won’t be because they were jerks so friendship will be more than possible.

Posted by Karol at 02:10 PM |
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Comments

Ken’s right, you’re wrong.
First of all, who has the time for someone like that? Who needs the reminder of rejection?
On the flip side, if you meet some chick, start dating her and she finds out you and your ex are still “friends”, any chick worth her psycho-salt is going to assume you’re still boinking and be an insecure wreck. It’s hard enough to convince women that men have platonic female friends to begin with, to say nothing of those friends that they’ve previous violated in airplane bathrooms.
There is nothing to be gained from staying friends with exes.
I know nothing of any woman I’ve ever dated. They could be dead or president of some country. Couldn’t tell you, and my life is no worse because of it.

Posted by: Sean at November 15, 2005 at 3:48 pm

Sometimes, the person you’re with is great but they’re just not into you in that way. Well, you liked them when they liked kissing you, do you not like them now that they don’t?

It’s not a question of still liking them. It’s a question of trying to be friends with someone who knows you better than most people and yet has come to the conclusion that you’re not good enough for them to date. There’s no more egregious insult than that. It’s much worse than any rejection you’ll experience in a bar or club.
Totally agree with you about revenge, though.

Posted by: Allah at November 15, 2005 at 3:54 pm

I’m with Sean. I would love to be great friends with ex’s but their current girlfriends are just not down with it. Not that I blame them. I wouldn’t want my boyfriend occasionally having a drink with his ex.

Posted by: Jessica at November 15, 2005 at 4:16 pm

If you’re being treated badly in a relationship, I don’t care if you’re old, fat, bald, ugly, poor and smelly- get out. It’s the simplest advice that is so often ignored. Put yourself above all others and you’ll be ok. You’re the best, you deserve the best, is the person you’re with the best?
See, that’s the difference between you and me. I’m living in reality while you’re dwelling in some fantasy world where people act rationally in relationships, treat themselves right, pick the right people, etc.
That’s why your advice sounds like a cross between Oprah and Stuart Smiley (or whatever his name was). And my advice is practical, something that pathetic dumpees can actually use.

Posted by: ken at November 15, 2005 at 4:40 pm

Karol and Ken are both right. It depends on the situation.
Ken’s motive of “Taking the high road” for why people would stay friends with the person that dumped them is not the reason for the desire to stay friends.
If “taking the high road” is the reason, then I agree with Ken and screw being friends. Taking the high road is not necessary.
But as Karol pointed out some people stay friends because they actually like that person as a friend and just because the romantic relationship did not work doesn’t mean you have to burn all bridges.
If that person REALLY screwed you over then staying friends shouldn’t be expected by the dumper and the dumpee should start plotting revenge.

Posted by: PAUL at November 15, 2005 at 5:33 pm

Argghghgh. Miss typed my last comment.
It’s supposed to read:
Ken’s motive of “Taking the high road” for why people would stay friends with the person that dumped them is not the only reason for the desire to stay friends.
If “taking the high road” is the reason, then I agree with Ken and screw being friends. Taking the high road is not necessary.
But as Karol pointed out some people stay friends because they actually like that person as a friend and just because the romantic relationship did not work doesn’t mean you have to burn all bridges.
If that person REALLY screwed you over then staying friends shouldn’t be expected by the dumper and the dumpee has no obligation to take the high road and instead should start plotting revenge.

Posted by: PAUL at November 15, 2005 at 5:37 pm

And my advice is practical, something that pathetic dumpees can actually use.
Ken,you’re right, in a way. Your advice is definitely practical and easy- keep doing the destructive things you’ve always done that have never led to happiness. Choose people all wrong for you, put your happiness second to pleasing someone you’ve known for just a few months, be shocked when they dump you and be bitter and angry afterward. Repeat. I’m not saying that my way- respecting yourself enough to not tussle with people who don’t deserve you (no matter how hot they are), being mature and staying friends with someone that mattered to you, is easy, but it’s the better way for a happy life.
Sean, As long as its brought up early in the relationship, your significant other should really not have a problem with you being friends with your ex. It’s healthy and normal.
Allah, It’s also not about rejection, they just didn’t like you for a life partner, there are other roles to play in people’s lives, and they in yours. Holding bitterness or anger makes people unlikable. Stewing over someone that didn’t want you isn’t good. Moving on and appreciating the person for whatever they are to you is the better way.
Jess, I understand that. Actually, I’d be more weirded out if my boyfriend went for a random drink with an ex than if he had a normal, regular relationship with her where they email or call and are totally open about the contact. Sure if tomorrow some ex I’ve never heard of called him to go for a drink- no good. But if it’s someone he has a friendship with, who comes to our house, who knows about me, who I’m friendly with, I think it’s a good thing.
I’m friends with everyone I’ve ever dated. Hell, I can right this second find every single person I’ve ever kissed. It gives me a very good, ego-boosting feeling to not have negativity with anyone with whom I’ve swapped spit. It wasn’t immediate. It’s not like my exs and I broke up and were immediately civil to each other, much less friends. But it’s important to me so I work at it until we are.
The main reason I disagree with Ken’s take on this is because it seems like he celebrates dysfunction and insanity. I don’t. I believe it’s most important to be happy in yourself in order for others to be happy with you. It may sound Oprah-ish or whatever, but it’s a fact that people are drawn to genuinely happy people. I’m not talking about those empty smilers, everybody goes through tough times and I’m not saying fake your way through it. Just that if you live your life exactly how you want, people will like you for it. If you nurse grudges and feel negativity for people you’ve dated, it’ll show and no one will like you and you’ll be reading Non Dating Life and agreeing with it.

Posted by: Karol at November 15, 2005 at 6:55 pm

Hell, I can right this second find every single person I’ve ever kissed.
But that’s only because you finally ran into that guy bartending.

Posted by: Not Dawn Summers at November 15, 2005 at 7:35 pm

It’s also not about rejection, they just didn’t like you for a life partner, there are other roles to play in people’s lives, and they in yours. Holding bitterness or anger makes people unlikable. Stewing over someone that didn’t want you isn’t good. Moving on and appreciating the person for whatever they are to you is the better way.

It’s better to be so concerned with being liked that you’d sublimate natural feelings of anger or bitterness in furtherance of it? I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree on that. Also, where’s the limiting principle? If a friend steals $1,000 from me, should I choke down my rage and go out for beers with him on Friday anyway? Because hey, if I hold a grudge, I might come off as unlikeable.
You’re going to say that’s not a fair analogy because the thief acts with intent to harm while the dumper does not. But the issue here isn’t culpability; it’s friendship. Friendship depends upon a power equilibrium between the parties, and in both cases I’ve described, that equilibrium has been damaged beyond repair. How do you look someone in the eye after they’ve told you they think they can do better? Why would you want to? Who wants to hang around with someone like that?
It seems to me that your and Ken’s positions represent pragmatism and principle, respectively. Essentially you’re saying, “No one likes to eat shit — but at least you’re eating.” Ken’s saying he’d rather have his pride and starve than eat shit. I’m with the cajun.
And for the record, I’d far, far, far prefer to have a friend steal a thousand bucks from me than tell me they don’t love me back.

Posted by: Allah at November 15, 2005 at 7:58 pm

It’s not that they could do better, just different. Why take it so personally? You’re just one person they’ve met and they’re just one person you’ve met, compatability isn’t guaranteed. And, again, just because someone isn’t your soulmate it doesn’t mean they can’t be a great friend.
I don’t see any pride in what Ken describes, because telling someone you can’t be friends with them admits that they have a power over you that you can’t shake. And this ‘So get dirty. Tell your ex to piss off. Let them see you cry or punch a wall, hear you scream. Call them while you

Posted by: Karol at November 16, 2005 at 12:49 am

It’s not that they could do better, just different.

Please. Every rejection implies that the dumper thinks he/she can do better than the dumpee. You don’t throw away a bird in the hand because there might be something “different” in the bush. There might not be anything in the bush. You reach the dumping stage when you realize you’d rather risk being alone than being with the dumpee, your supposedly wonderful friend who, alas, isn’t quite wonderful enough.
The one time I experienced something similar to (but not exactly the same as) this, I had to break off contact with her for several years. Eventually we reconnected. By that point my feelings for her were gone, but even so, the friendship was impossible just because the power dynamics between us were so fucked. The elephant in the room was always there, and before long the smell of elephant shit was overpowering. For instance, how could I chat with her about women I was interested in, the way I might do with any other friend? Any enthusiasm she might express would come off as patronizing, as though she were patting me on the head and saying, “Aw, did you find yourself a little girlfriend? Someone more your speed?” If a guy patronized me like that, I’d punch him in his fucking face. Why should I swallow my pride and put up with it under these circumstances?
And it really is all about pride. The way I see it, you have nothing to lose by cutting the person off: you’ve already lost any power you had by virtue of being the dumpee, so it’s not like ending the friendship is going to make things worse. On the contrary, cutting them off is an act of independence, a way of showing them that you don’t need them. Maybe they’ll be sad to see you go, in which case, good — the feeling of loss on their part gives them a taste of their own medicine and restores a little bit of power to you. Or maybe they won’t be sad to see you go, in which case, good — fuck ‘em. They weren’t much of a friend in the first place. It’s win/win.
Now, riddle me this. Every time I read an article or talk to women about what they find attractive in men, it always comes down to confidence. Assertiveness! Backbone! Chicks love a guy who doesn’t eat shit — that’s the lesson that’s drilled into every man’s head from the time he hits puberty unto death. So explain to me how that squares with a guy who behaves like a mewling pussy, smiling when his girlfriend breaks his heart then offering to be best buds forever with her?

Posted by: Allah at November 16, 2005 at 3:22 am

I’m with Karol on this to a certain extent, though I don’t think anybody should go out of their way to stay friends with exes. I’m friendly to my exes, but most of them, I don’t even know where in the U.S. they are now. I moved and they moved to completely different states from when we had dated — I love American mobility.
I certainly don’t see the use in being friends in the immediate aftermath of a breakup. I would wait until I had a better boyfriend before I would talk to my previous one (I was always the one who got dumped). I’m of the “living well is the best revenge” state of mind — especially since I managed to get a new SO before the dumper did, so I had fun with that.

Posted by: meep at November 16, 2005 at 5:22 am

I think Allah is picking up on the little bit of seriousness I had in the post. But Karol, you seem to be responding to the post sort of like a humorless Dawn Summers reader.
The main reason I disagree with Ken’s take on this is because it seems like he celebrates dysfunction and insanity.
Have you READ the other entries in the Nondating Life?
Also, I’d venture that all those exes your still friends with YOU dumped THEM. And some of them just MIGHT go to sleep at night thinking they can still win you back.
And, for the record, with maybe two exceptions, I’m still on friendly terms with everyone I’ve ever hooked up with.

Posted by: ken at November 16, 2005 at 11:01 am

I have friends that I have know since highschool and still keep in regular touch with. They are the ones that I expect to back me in in almost any situation.
Girlfriends come and go (you know excpect the one i have now, that is forever), friends are for life.
If a girlfriend betrayed me once, then that invalidates the basis of friendship, and that means that I cannot be friends with her.

Posted by: cube at November 16, 2005 at 11:03 am

heeeey, why you gotta pick on my readers?

Posted by: Not Dawn Summers at November 16, 2005 at 11:38 am

My only question is, is Karol’s advice meant only for that 5% of the population for whom being dumped isn’t extremely painful and humiliating? I can understand staying pals with your ex if you’re just naturally stoic about break-ups. Since it’s not costing you anything emotionally, there’s no sense throwing away a perfectly good friendship. But if you’re like me, and Ken (I assume), and 95% of America/the world, why on earth would you want continued exposure to a person who caused you such agony? It’d be like revisiting the old schoolyard every day to reminisce about all the times you got your ass kicked. “And here’s where Billy Jenkins kicked me in the kidney…. Good times!”

Posted by: Allah at November 16, 2005 at 12:28 pm

“As long as its brought up early in the relationship, your significant other should really not have a problem with you being friends with your ex. It’s healthy and normal.”
Although your sexual orientation might preclude this, but try dating a woman and attempt to pull that off for yourself. See what “healthy and normal”.
Come to think of it, I don’t think I know ANYBODY who still has much contact with any of their exes. Those that do reserve that contact for late-night, post drinking “get togethers”.
Karol, I’m with Allah and Ken. You’ve created a hypothetical world that bears little resemblence to the one most of us inhabit. In fact, I think your world is called “NBC, circa 2000″.

Posted by: Sean at November 16, 2005 at 12:30 pm

“My only question is, is Karol’s advice meant only for that 5% of the population for whom being dumped isn’t extremely painful and humiliating?”
I would bet dollars to donuts that Karol has never been dumped by someone she really cared about, but instead has been the dumpee most of the time
“Staying friends” is in itself some kind of power trip over the other person and your own emotions.
It says to the dumpee “you were sooo not significant to me that I don’t think of you any differently, in my heart, than I do [insert random friend here].”
To the dumper, it is a futile attempt to protect yourself from the pain that the above sentiment brings, and trying to save face in front of the person who dumped you.
Either way, I think staying friends with a formerly significant other is far less healthy than just cutting them off. They are a “significant” other for a reason.
To be relegated from “significant” to “insignificant” is pretty harsh, and if it doesn’t hurt, well, you were really just f*ck buddies anyway.

Posted by: Sean at November 16, 2005 at 12:45 pm

Allah view on break up seems to be limited to one person rejecting the other. This is a far too simplistic and superficial explanation of a break up and post break up feelings for many relationships.
In cases when you weren’t deeply involved and only went out a few times, then yes rejection (your not good enough) is the logical and natural emotion. So in this case I agree with Allah.
But in long term relationships, people break up for complicated and heavy reasons. It’s not as simple as not liking someone and then dumping them. In this case you don’t have to get all bent out of shape about not being good enough for them.
Staying friends with this person might be tough because I agree with Allah about the post break up dynamics but it’s not impossible.
Cube writes:
“If a girlfriend betrayed me once, then that invalidates the basis of friendship, and that means that I cannot be friends with her.”
I agree with this. This is what I meant when I said REALLY getting screwed over.

Posted by: PAUL at November 16, 2005 at 1:16 pm

“Staying friends” is in itself some kind of power trip over the other person and your own emotions.

Yeah, and Karol suggested as much in her last comment (”telling someone you can’t be friends with them admits that they have a power over you that you can’t shake”). So is that the answer to my question? Even if you’re one of the 95% who are tormented by break-ups, you should grit your teeth and stay friends with your ex because it’s a more effective power play than simply cutting them off?
I can’t imagine anything less psychologically healthy than that. “We’re still best friends — but only because I hate her so much.”

Posted by: Allah at November 16, 2005 at 1:29 pm

There are different kind of breakups, but overall, I’m with Ken. I’m friendly with most of my exes, but none of them I consider true friends. When I got dumped, I sure as hell got in the girl’s face, and the more time passes, the more I’m convinced I did the right thing. I have a song about it, you can read an excerpt here:
http://ivanlenin.blogspot.com/2005/11/requiem-for-cunt-verse-3.html

Posted by: Lenin at November 16, 2005 at 1:55 pm

I don’t see my advice as what you should do in relationships specifically, but what you should do in life. Again, I’m discounting really bad treatment here, as that is just straight revenge and call it a day. I’m talking about good people that just don’t love you in that forever kind of way. Yes, being dumped hurts but it IS the adult thing to do to try to get over it and have some sort of relationship with someone that mattered to you so much. Otherwise, you’ll be writing songs called ‘Requiem For Cunt’. And that’s no good.

Posted by: Karol at November 16, 2005 at 3:01 pm

Karol, how do you know if I wrote that song because I didn’t want to ‘get over it’, or because I had actually been treated like crap?
And as for my Requiem For a Cunt, perhaps you’ll be surprised to know that a lot of people really like this song – perhaps more than any other of my songs. I think it’s one of my best, and it did help me get over some pain, because at least I have something fun to show for all the pain the cunt caused me. What’s not good about it?
People who abuse my feelings and take me for granted me don’t belong in my life – isn’t that an axiom in your philosophy of happiness?

Posted by: Lenin at November 16, 2005 at 3:37 pm

I don’t know about “friends,” but I’ve always been able to remain “friendly” with the exes even if it took awhile. It’s far easier than holding a grudge.
As yes, even with the bad relationships.

Posted by: Lauren at November 16, 2005 at 7:56 pm

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it depends on the nature of the relationship and the break up. As PAUL points out, there are a lot of different types of break up or reasons for breaking up, and sometimes the decision really is mutual. In such a case remaining friends, especially if there was a long friendship preceding the relationship, seems reasonable and possible.
But I’ve also seen cases where, like Allah points out, one person is swallowing an unhealthy amount of rage in order to maintain a friendship. In such a case, the rage filled individual should cut off contact as it benefits no one involved to have a friendship based on repressed rage and pretense.

Posted by: Bunni at November 17, 2005 at 3:19 pm

How about if the relationship was great until he suddenly dumped you in a nasty way? You weren’t being abused until the second to last conversation, and you couldn’t see it coming, and your friends couldn’t see it coming, and everyone is walking around going “He said WHAT?” “He did WHAT?”
So in that scenario, we can be friends only after he apologizes profusely for dumping me in a shabby gratuitously cruel way.
And if he had just bowed out with some halfway sincere “I dont’ deserve you, I’m confused” shit, I would roll my eyes and think yeah sure, but we could eventually be friends.

Posted by: Yehudit at November 17, 2005 at 5:39 pm

The flawed premise, as I see it in Karol (and Paul’s for that matter) arguement is simply this, that a relationship doesn’t necessarily have to end badly.
While I will not discount that there is probably some minute percentage of relationships that end on reasonable terms, or by mutual agreement as bunni suggested for both parties , this is by and far the exception and not the rule.
When relationships end, they end badly, at the very least for one of the two participants. If things weren’t bad on some level, the relationship wouldn’t end.
This does not necessarily mean that you need to declare war and eternal hatred towards anyone who even looks in the direction of the other person, you may even be able to remain, “friendly” to some degree, but the inherent level of trust that you have in a true friend will forever be altered and/or damaged.

Posted by: An Ordinary Joe at November 18, 2005 at 12:28 pm

Put me down on the side that thinks friendships after relationships are unlikely, and quite possibly a bad idea. Despite each person’s most noble intentions, let’s look at how a break-up might work in the real world:
Let’s say Karol decides to break up with her boyfriend. She sits him down and gives him the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” and “Let’s just be friends” speech. He complies, because, well, his only other option is no contact with Karol, and he wants her back. So for the next couple weeks, he tries to act like a friend, despite not knowing exactly how to do that. He calls her up several times a week and asks her to dinner and other events.
After a few weeks of this, Karol starts to wonder, “Does he realize that we’re broken up? He’s not acting like it.” After a few more weeks, she finally loses patience, sits the guy down again and says, “Look, we broke up, we can still be friends, but quit acting like we’re still dating.” The guy doesn’t know what this means, exactly. To him, acting like friends is pretty much the same, just without the physical intimacy. So, not knowing what to do, he cuts down on calling her quite as often, perhaps twice a week instead of three times a week.
A few more weeks or perhaps a month goes by, he’s still calling Karol regularly to talk and asking her to spend time with him. Karol is getting increasingly annoyed. She finally recognizes that she is going to have to cut him off for awhile so that he can finally get over her, under the theory that ripping off a band-aid quickly is better than pulling it off slowly. It’s for his own good. So she stops taking his phone calls and avoids places where he might show up.
Eventually, he stops calling knowing that she’s not going to answer anyway, and after several months of not talking to her, he finally moves on with his life. He starts feeling like a fool and is a bit embarassed about how he acted right after the break-up. Because of this, he’s a bit hesistant to call Karol. Who knows if she’ll answer anyway. Karol doesn’t call him because she has no idea whether he’s over her or not, and doesn’t want to re-open that can of worms.
Then, perhaps, he and Karol run into each other six months or a year later in a bar, store, restaurant, or on the street. They exchange pleastantries, exaggerate a little about how great their lives are, and depart with promises that they’ll call each other and maybe hang-out sometime. They never do, of course, as they’ve both gotten used to life without each other, and are now likely involved in new relationships, possibly with people who won’t be too thrilled with them spending time with their ex’s.
The end.
This is how a break-up might work under fairly amicable circumstances, so I really don’t think that being friends is all that likely in most cases. Possible sometimes, but I would never bet on it, and I would never end a relationship with that intention.

Posted by: Jason at November 18, 2005 at 2:45 pm

Jason, Great job. That is a perfect description of how trying to stay friends might turn out.
I think it is very hard to stay friends with an X. I am not good at it that’s for sure.
I just don’t think the reason for not being friends boils down to rejection resentment; “Why would I want to be friends with someone who doesn’t think I am worthy”. in many cases.

Posted by: PAUL at November 18, 2005 at 6:48 pm
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