Editor’s note: Carolyn Hax is on vacation. The following are excerpts from summer 2004 live discussions on www.washingtonpost.com.
Dear Carolyn: How do you tell if a hookup with a longtime friend was a random one-night thing or the beginning of something? I suspect it involves actually talking to the other person (gasp), but I’m not sure how to begin that conversation. “Hey, are we cool?” sounds so very, very lame. – Gary, Ind.
“So was this a random one-night thing or the beginning of something?” If you’re feeling really bold, you can start off by admitting what you’d like it to be, instead of lobbing the ball to the other person. “I hope this was the beginning of something and not a random one-night thing”; or, “I hope this was a random one-night thing, because I’m not looking for it to be the beginning of something.” The former will open you up for rejection and the latter will make you sound like a heel, but both are better for their honesty than any alternatives. Happy trails.
Dear Carolyn: Friends with a guy for a year. He had a girlfriend. Broke up with girlfriend, said he was interested in me. We dated three weeks, then he said she wanted to try again. We didn’t speak much for three months. Now he wants to try again; says he’s done a lot of thinking. I said maybe, but I’ll have to see because I don’t feel ready to trust him again. Could this work out? I don’t trust my gut feelings anymore. – Philadelphia
What’s not to trust? Sounds like he kept you apprised of his feelings – though the “She wanted to try again” line is bull. He wanted to try, too, or he wouldn’t have tried.
Anyway, I read it this way: He was interested in you but still had feelings for the ex (both plausible and in fact normal); he chased down the old feelings (his prerogative); he came back to you (a compliment, if nothing else).
You certainly are under no obligation to go out with him, but if you like him, why get too hung up on the history? Plus I don’t see any violation of trust here, just some messy feelings, which is what feelings generally are. Take it slowly, ask that he please be honest with you about any new relapses and see what happens.
Dear Carolyn: One of my closest friends is now hanging around a guy whom I had a tremendous crush on and actually dated for a bit. I told her it makes me uncomfortable, but she is continuing to spend a lot of time with this guy all the same. It’s causing a lot of problems, and I am very upset about the potential loss of friendship. Am I overreacting and need to get over it? – Washington, D.C.
Yes. Unless she has a history of chasing your exes just to rub her success in your face, or unless he abused you, you need to accept that you have no say in this one. She’s your friend, so wish her happiness and then go out and bite on a stick or something.