Dating a friend’s ex has never seemed like a big deal to me.
I had listened to discussions on the radio about why people would either choose to date or reject a proposal from a friend’s ex and none of them made sense to me, especially claims that this may ruin the relationship between the friends. “Why should it be so?” I would ask.
I believe it is a very necessary “evil” anyone could perpetuate provided he/she is not the cause of that breakup and the interest in the ex is genuine.
In spite of this perception I somehow strongly felt that dating a friend’s ex was also a sacrilege. Well, I couldn’t explain why, but it felt like what the Bible said about coveting a neighbour’s property.
I perceived it as betrayal, hence, I never intended to commit such an act. In the end, though, I dated a friend’s ex.
Now, I know how it feels and what is involved not just what I thought about dating a friend’s ex.
My experience started in my final year at University (Uni) when I moved in to live with Peral. Peral was my friend. We had known each other from our Senior High School days. We studied the same course and sat through the same classes during our three-year stay in school. After school, we lost track of each other for a while but reunited when we both gained admission into the same University. Though we pursued the same course, this time around, we found ourselves in different classes.
We were in Uni for over three years but we barely made contact or checked up on each other until our paths crossed one day. We accused each other of being a bad friend, laughed over that, reminisce over the good old times, updated each other with news about our former mates in SHS, bade farewell to each other and that was it till we met gain on campus, and the same routine followed.
Later though, in our fourth year, we happened to live under the same roof. I joined her in her apartment when my rent expired and I had to find another place to live. I desperately needed a place to rent and she also desperately needed two people to join her since her roommates had graduated and left. Our early days living together were all fun, peaceful, and full of love and care for each other – in fact, we lived like sisters- until Peral introduced me to Dave, her ex. Well, I didn’t know they were “exes” until later.
I wasn’t the cause of their breakup. They had both introduced themselves to me as each other’s friend and that was what it was to me.
Peral told me he was “this good looking, rich and caring dude who was earnestly looking for a girl to date.” She also told me about how he always lamented over how girls dated him only for his money and left after they got what they wanted and the fact that, that is not the kind of relationship he wants.
I was single too and Peral “wanted to solve a problem [as she put it].” She felt I would be a perfect match for him so she willingly introduced us. Besides, she wasn’t happy about how I was only focused on work and school and I always got stressed without anyone being there for me.
This generated a little banter. I contested her claim because I didn’t see the correlation between not having a boyfriend and stress. But she stood her ground. She argued that I always walked in very late all the time and always felt so tired and that the many times I had complained about headaches and body pains was all because of loneliness – that the complaints were all signs of extreme fatigue coupled with loneliness and the only solution was to get a boyfriend.
I laughed so loud that I woke up Debbie who was taking a nap when I walked in. She asked why we were disturbing her sleep. After Peral fed her with the ‘gist’, she joined the conversation.
“Young lady that’s the truth. You’re always tired. If you had a boyfriend he would have given you a massage by now and all your nerves would be relaxed. He’ll also ask how your day went and would provide all the support you need,” she said.
“Girls, you are always there for me,” I protested. “I tell you everything. Moreover, each time I need help, I confide in you and you help me get over anything. What’s more therapeutic than having your friends by your side?”
They both laughed, but Debby insisted, “I honestly think you need someone to help you deal with the stress. You need a boyfriend, someone you can call and talk to when you’re in your low moments… and he’ll do a better job than we can ever do.” I interjected with claims that I’m doing very well and that if I needed a guy, I’ll let them know. I said, brushing aside the topic and dashing to the kitchen to fetch something to eat. But that was not the end of the discussion.
I walked in another time from work and met Peral glancing through pictures on her phone. Immediately she saw me, she called me to her bed, showed a picture to me and asked if I could recognise a certain guy she was sure I knew. She told me we had met him during one of our Interschool Sports Competitions (what we call Inter-co) but I couldn’t remember him.
She vividly described him but I honestly couldn’t recall who he was. He showed me another picture but I still couldn’t make him out. That did not seem to discourage her. She kept talking about him; how good looking he had become as well as how rich he is. Peral went on and on and on but to no avail – it all seemed like noise in my ears. I was just not interested. Then she said something which I thought I could use to end the conversation: “The only problem is that he is still short.”
In as much as she thought he being short was a problem, I didn’t mind dating a short guy. Not at all. So far as he is responsible, hardworking and had some of the qualities I look for in a guy, we were good to go. Nonetheless, sincerely, a guy or anything about a relationship was nothing I was interested in during those days. a steady relationship with a man never crossed my mind two years after my last breakup.
My last relationship did not end on a good note hence, I didn’t want to have anything to do with a guy ‘relationship-wise’ at least for that period. I only wanted to focus on building myself and that was the only thing I prioritised. Besides, I was in my final year at Uni. I needed a lot of time and attention for my books. Love was not on my mind and a relationship was nothing I wanted to have anything to do with. So, while she pressed on, trying to convince me about her male friend, I told her I wasn’t interested. Besides, “I don’t even like short guys.”
This statement was made in jest. I just said that to kill the conversation but the statement did not discourage Peral. That day, she continued singing sweet songs about my “soon-to-be-Prince-Charming,” and our conversations had since then been lectures on why I needed a boyfriend, how to keep one, and everything she and Debby knew about dating.
The introduction and life thereafter
One evening, Peral received a call and handed over the phone to me. I wondered who it was so I asked but instead of responding she hushed and in a whisper asked me to “talk to him.”
It was Dave, the guy Debby had been blabbing about. We spoke for a short while yet gelled immediately and he asked for my contact. It seemed we were going to get along very well. I willingly gave my phone number to him – after all, I knew nothing and besides my friend had been pressurizing me with getting to know him.
Little did I know that this would be the genesis of all the problems that would later come up between me and Peral.
After talking to Dave, I handed over the phone to Peral and life went on. We were still very good friends, we ate each other’s food, talked about everything, used things from each other without any problem – and we remained friends until few weeks after Dave started calling to check up on me.
Debby suddenly developed hatred, a lot of that, for me. Everything about me annoyed her. I just didn’t understand WHY. The Peral who would willingly give anything even when you haven’t asked for it, now literally complained bitterly about me touching anything of hers, including her study lamp which we all used to study. Her attitude felt very strange.
Sometimes I spoke to her but she would not respond. In fact, it got very worrying. I never knew her reaction had something to do with Dave.
The unintentional mistakes
We started well; Dave and I. He asked me to groom him into the kind of man I wanted and we were doing just fine: our regular calls, the regular checkups, our rare but memorable dates, the nights he would sing for me, and the nights I would read to him.
He confided in me and told me everything I needed to know – his family [how his dad disowned him because he wanted to study law but his dad wanted him to practice medicine] etc. This continued for a while and the bond was growing stronger. Then he suddenly changed.
His regular calls stopped and he wouldn’t answer mine. Neither was he texting nor responding to my texts. It was so obvious there was something wrong. There were days I was lucky enough to reach him. His reception, very cold. Dave would snap at me for checking up on him and just hang up. I didn’t understand what was going on but it continued for a while, until he opened up one day.
He outlined my “unintentional mistakes,” highlighted below:
My claim that I don’t like short guys
This statement was the root cause of all evil in the relationship. As I stated earlier, I didn’t mean this statement – it was made in jest. Somehow, it found its way to Dave (I don’t even know how) and he never forgave me for that.
This was a real awakening. Apparently, that was one of his biggest weaknesses since girls who dated him used that as an excuse to ditch him, and hearing that I had said same, felt like scratching his old wound. I didn’t know about this and the statement was not meant for his ears either. I learnt to be very mindful of my utterances. You know, they say some jokes are expensive and this joke cost me an arm and a leg. Actually, it did a lot of harm.
I gave my contact to Dave without Peral’s consent
The first time I spoke with Dave, he requested my contact and I willingly gave it out. I didn’t know there was any harm in doing that since it was Peral’s idea that I dated him. Somehow, Peral said I had betrayed her by doing so. I didn’t understand why. What I didn’t know was that she had it all planned for Dave and me.
Unbeknownst to me, she wanted to use this as an opportunity to extort money from Dave and I ruined all her plans when I gave my contact to him without her knowledge.
Her first request to Dave was a lunch date. The second was money to fund an initiative she was working on. She had started a charity organisation and wanted to support young girls in deprived communities with relief items (books, clothes, food, etc) and she urgently needed money to fund the project. That was chicken feed for Dave. Unfortunately, how to get him to cough out that money was the Challenge. So I became a willing bait.
Apparently, they had brokered a deal that Dave would support the project if Peral gave him my contact but Dave breached his side of the deal and refused her all her requests since he had already gotten my contact and this infuriated Peral a lot.
Later, when Peral and I reconciled, she opened up about this and confessed that this was one of the reasons why she hated me so much. She said I had broken the “girls code” with this act of mine thus, she didn’t know how she could forgive me.
My response when Dave asked to remain friends with Peral
One evening during a chat with Dave, he asked, “considering how close I am with your friend, do you mind if we still stayed in touch?” The answer to this should have been an OUTRIGHT NO. However, I said “no problem” – I innocently said I didn’t mind. (That was before I found out that they had dated before.)
I didn’t want to be guilty of being an ingrate. What…? That my friend introduced her male friend to me and I forbid them to remain friends? What would that be; selfishness, ungratefulness, or what? Besides, as far as i am concerned, they were just friends.
I trusted them and I let matters end there. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would have screamed a very loud ‘NO’ to his question. In fact, I would have cut and broken all communication links they had with each other and issued a very stern warning to Dave that if I found out that there was any form of communication between them, that would be it for us.
It’s too late now. Everything has gone down the drain. But there is a bit more.
Stay tuned for Part II.
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