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Old Friend or New Love

Can you pursue a relationship with a mutual friend of an ex? What about an ex-husband? One reader turned to the 4-way panel for some advice on dating her children's godfather and close family friend.

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Dear 4-Way,
I will soon be divorced after fourteen months of separation and I’m wondering about the possibility of being pursued by a mutual friend of my ex’s and mine. I’m in my mid-forties and have always shared a close friendship with this man. In fact, he’s the godparent of my two boys. His relationship with my teenage sons is better than the relationship they share with their father.

I’m aware of the possibility of the friend being torn between loyalty to my ex and pursuing a deeper relationship with me, but I’m wondering, do you think he would consider a relationship with me? Do men do things like that? He’s known my ex for over forty years.

He’s called me throughout the divorce proceedings to check in on me. When I see him, even for brief moments, his body language is completely tuned in to me and I’ve caught him with strange looks on his face watching me. Does all this mean there is a possibility?BW, San Francisco, California

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
Well, stranger things have happened, BW. But I must say, I see your quandary. He’s more than just a friend; he’s really part of the family since he’s the godfather of your children.  I don’t get from your question that you’re attracted to this man except at the end when you ask if there’s “a possibility.” If you truly feel that he’s interested in you, he probably is. As I always say, your gut never lies. Whether or not he has the balls to admit it based on the long-term friendship shared with your soon-to-be ex is another thing.

I’m not aware of the circumstances surrounding your divorce, or how amicable you are toward each other at this point, but all that should come into play with your decision. If your relationship mutually ended, then perhaps your ex would be thrilled at the prospect of you finding happiness with someone that he knows and his children know. Keep in mind, we all only get one life. If you want to be with this person after giving it a lot of consideration, then I say go for it!

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
So BW, are you interested in this guy romantically? From the way you’ve written your question, I’m not sure if you have feelings for him or if you’re just interested in him being interested in you. That’s pretty common after a divorce or breakup; sometimes it just feels good to have people pay attention to you again.  That said, given what you’ve told us, it does sound like he could be interested in you. He could also just be concerned about the mother of his godchildren, too. Your radar after ending a long-term relationship can often be out of whack, erring on the side that no one’s interested in you, so if even in your recently-single state you think he has feelings for you, your gut is probably right.

Do men do things like that? Absolutely. But beginning a relationship with the ex-wife of a friend for over forty years who also happens to be the mother of your godchildren is a giant step to take. Actually, it’s more like jumping off the Sears Tower.  Consider this: why do you need to jump right into another romantic relationship? And why do you even need to know yet if this man is interested? You don’t need to find the answers or solve this immediately. I think you should just let this phase of your friendship with the new dimension of you being a single, sexy woman breathe as-is for a while and see how things feel as time progresses. If you absolutely think you’re ready to date right now, try it with someone where the stakes aren’t so high and keep it casual.

As someone who’s been through divorce, I’d recommend that you get used to—and enjoy—being single for a little while and not date anyone. Get acquainted with the single you again. It doesn’t sound like this man’s going anywhere, so you can afford to take your time and see what feels right once you’re out of that recently-divorced state of mind.

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
Your intuition here is probably right. His frequent checking on you and his body language indicate there’s some interest on his part. I hope he values his long-time friendship with your ex and his subsequent relationship with you and your children too much to put them all in jeopardy by pursuing something romantic with you. But more importantly I hope YOU value your current relationships enough not to risk a complicated, hurtful situation for all involved. He’s your kids’ godfather; please don’t make him their god-stepfather. That’s just too many hyphens.

Here’s your problem: you’ve been in a long-term relationship where you got settled and comfortable. That’s over now and you’re a bit lost. You’re probably afraid of being alone and don’t even know where to start over from here. This is all normal and to be expected.  This guy is familiar and is showing interest in you. Fine, that’s flattering and it would make moving on so much easier, right? Wrong. You’re taking the easy way out if that happens. You’re not allowing anyone else in the world to even have a shot at you. Use this period—while the divorce papers are still fresh—to take some time. Take some space. Date a little. Figure out what you really want, or better yet, what you really need right now. Why not get out and meet people? You know, where there isn’t so much baggage attached.

Your relationship with your ex may already be strained, but I bet it would be much worse if you started dating his good friend. No guy is really okay with his buddy sleeping with his former wife.  While a bit scary and unknown, this time in your life can be an exciting opportunity to move forward in a positive direction. So get out there and try something new, for God(father)’s sakes.

The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
I think you already have an idea about the answer. You see some signs. I don’t think you’re really writing to the 4-Way to see if there’s a possibility. After all, you know the guy and we don’t. I think you may want to know, where do you go from here? Am I ready for this and is it okay to be pursued by a mutual friend of yours and your ex husband’s?

Your situation has lots of layers of connection to it. You two have been friends for a long time and your kids are close to him. Plus, there’s the current tie to your ex. If you’re looking for the 100 percent right thing to do, I’d say don’t take the risk of asking him what he’s feeling toward you. After all, why risk breaking with social mores for the chance at real happiness? Yeah, better to play it safe and ignore the signs and stay away.

Sorry for the sarcasm there. I support you in taking the risk and going for it. I think you feel something for him, too. Yes, its uncharted territory, but it’s worth the chance. Is there a possibility? Go find out. You can do this!

 

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