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Saturday, June 18, 2011

{Significant Other Saturday} Xing out the Ex.

I'm not friends with any of the men I used to date and that is not by accident. I think it's bad business to maintain ties with people you used to crush on, lust for, or sleep with. I mean, what's the point? They're an ex for a reason. Once I've moved on from a man that I'm seeing, I make it a point to get rid of all evidence of them. (All pictures, trinkets and social media ties included) I go so far as to save their number in my phone but I delete the name and replace it with random symbols.

Now, this advice isn't really applicable if you were in a long term relationship with someone because maybe you memorized the number or because it would be the only number in your phone that has symbols instead of numbers but if you're just dating or talking to a guy; and you've had your number for a while; it works well.

The only legitimate reason, I feel, that you should maintain ties with an ex is if you have a child in common. Ironically, the people that we share children with tend to be the people with whom we have the most tumultuous relationships (at least, that has been my experience). I don't know what it is about divorce that causes such bitterness and disdain between two people who once promised "to love, honor and obey... for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part [I do]". Perhaps it's the intensity of that commitment and subsequent reneging on the vow that causes the strife. I would argue that because they are an ex (and as such, all ties should be severed) that maintaining contact (albeit for a worthy reason) is the source of the strain.

Months after leaving my now ex husband, I started seeing a guy that I thought I would marry. He was perfect! 

I met him at work, doing security. He was a great guy. He and I talked all the time about relationships and love. It was harmless because I was married (and committed) and he was in a committed relationship with a woman that he planned to marry. Even back then, I didn't believe that men and women can be just friends but that's really what he and I were; friends.

While working the security job; I discovered that I was pregnant. Word trickled down to my co-workers and I soon learned that chivalry is not dead. This guy; lets call him Harry, worked the midnight shift, 10-6. I worked 6-2. My duties began at 8:00; opening the dock doors that led into the building for shipping and receiving and a building tour to unlock the rest of the doors. Harry would carry my bags from the parking office where I relieved him to the dock office then sit and talk with me until 8:00 so that he could open the dock and other building doors. Once complete, Harry would usually stay for another hour or so chatting with me before heading home to change clothes for his day job.

I remember thinking back then how much I respected his hustle. He worked 40 hours a week at a job that paid the bills and worked a second job in the industry that he hoped to one day break into; real estate.
Meanwhile, on the way to work, I was leaving a house where my husband slept until I got home, calling himself a business owner in spite of knowing that his "businesses" had only cost us money.

Naturally, when things ended between Paul and I; Harry was in the forefront of my mind as a prospect for someone to date. He had long since left the security company and taken a job at the bank that I patronized. He and his girl were on the outs and before long, he and I were together everyday. Going on dates, meeting one another's family; the whole nine. We talked about our future together, about the company we would start, about moving to Chicago.I was falling for this dude. He respected my decision to be celibate so our relationship was completely PG. I was on cloud 9. I felt like I was getting my comeuppance. I had put so much into a doomed marriage that God was answering my prayers.

Then, reality hit.

We took a trip to Chicago for Valentines Day. I booked a room (double beds) and we mapped out a weekend of shopping, food tasting, relaxing, and, hanging out with my brother.

We got to the room late and didn't settle in until 4am EST. I had been up almost 24 hours and passed out on the comfy bed within minutes. I was awakened by him talking on the phone. To a woman. He was just calling to let her know that we made it there safe and apologizing for being 'out of it' the night before. I was incredulous. I got up, went to the bathroom and sobbed. I took a long shower, trying to give him time to finish up his conversation but after 20+ minutes; he still wasn't done.

I laid back down, anxious and heart racing, still crying into my pillow. He eventually got off the phone but ended up texting for the next hour or so. The next morning, I got up and conveyed my disdain as to what had happened the night before.

What came out was that he "didn't even like me like that". He tried to make me feel as if I was misconstruing what had been going on. I searched my mind, our conversations and everything that we had said to one another to see if that was possible.

I wasn't crazy. He had been leading me on. Saying just enough to give me hope, but not enough to tie himself down. I would later learn that he was dating a woman who lived about an hour from Detroit. He'd met her online and she knew who I was. He'd had her convinced that he and I were business partners; that I liked him but that there was no interest on his part because I was still, in fact, married (I was but had been separated coming up on a year).

To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. I felt like a fool. All the while I was thinking that we were establishing a foundation for a future together, and he had a long distance girlfriend right under my nose.

When we got back to Detroit, I ended things. I deleted his number from my phone, blocked his emails, changed my main email address and deleted my profiles from the social networking sites we were on together.

About four months went by before I heard from him again. In a strange twist of whatever, he showed up at my house unannounced just hours after the man I broke my celibacy vow with had gone about his day. He sat across from me with no reason as to his being there. He talked about everything except what still haunted me; why he behaved the way he did.

His phone rang and he scurried to leave, asking me for me number since he'd given his old phone to his little sister. (Meaning his girlfriend added him to her phone plan).

After months of games; him texting me from a number I didn't recognize, flirting incessantly with me, and showing up at my church I began to take him seriously when he said that he wanted to try again. So, I pulled his card; I gave him an ultimatum. Having walked away from the aforementioned 'relationship', I wasn't going to settle for anything less than what I was looking for; a committed, celibate relationship that would lead to marriage.

I explained to him that there was no way that I was going to invest the kind of energy and time into him as I had done before without commitment. He seemed oblivious to why it was such a big deal. He didn't understand why we couldn't be friends and "just see what would happen." He had such an inflated sense of self that he called himself "the King". In his eyes, other men were inferior to him in all respects and to turn down this opportunity would be MY loss.

I politely explained to Harry that I was looking for something permanent and that merely having him around meant that I was taking my energy away from that effort. When it was all said and done, he wanted to know if we were still going to do business together. (He was still trying to find an angle into the real estate business and my best friend's company has a direct line into cash properties. He knew that by severing ties with me that any prospects of that connect would leave with me.) "No chance." I told him. And I meant it. I unfriended him on facebook, symboled his number on my phone and activated a feature that allows me to shoot that caller directly to voice mail when they call.

It's over a year since all that went down. He's tried calling from other numbers. I know this because he'll always call asking for my business (I've long since gotten a dedicated number for the business) and, upon Sly Dialing him, it's his voice mail.

I'm glad that I ended things with the finality that I did with him for a number of reasons but the biggest one being that I had to be sure that I was completely available, not just in my relationship status, but emotionally when the man of my dreams found me. It hurt, it wasn't easy. And yes, I cried. But it was totally worth it.

"Best Thing I Never Had" - Beyonce 

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