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Turn the Hose on an Old Flame: The 4-Way

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Dear 4-Way,
A few years ago, I traveled with a guy and became close friends with him, then started to date him. Even though we fell out of touch when we stopped traveling, I’ve always felt connected to him. Since then, I’ve become happily engaged. Recently, my ex moved to the same city and got back in touch with me—and he now has a big crush on one of my best friends. Even though I act like I’m fine with it on the surface, I’m secretly jealous. I’m not sure if she’s even that into him, but is it wrong to not want her to date him, even though I’m about to be married in just a few months?—DD, Los Angeles, California 


The Gay Man’s Perspective: Darren Maddox
If you’re “happily engaged,” be happily engaged and then be happily married. Move on from whatever happened in the past. While I’ll agree that his timing for coming back into the picture sucks, you moved on and found someone you love enough to marry. If you do in fact love your fiancé that much, don’t let the distraction of a past flame interfere with your next step. Life has a strange way of reminding us of our pasts; it also has the ability to open doors for what may lie ahead. 


As for your ex’s having a crush on your friend, how do you know? Did he tell you? Did she tell you? Is it just a suspicion? Either way, you’ve moved on from when you dated him, and he has the same right to do that. Several of my gal pals have experienced feelings of being attracted to other people just before—and even during—their weddings. I think it’s natural for both men and women to have “what if?” on their mind before agreeing to spend the rest of their life with one person. My advice is to take a good look at the person who has come back into your world. Is he the person you want to spend your life with, or is it the person to whom you are engaged? 


The Gay Woman’s Perspective: Jody Fischer
Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It’s great that you found the guy you want to share your life with—that’s not an easy thing to do. It requires a big commitment and big changes in your life. One of those changes is that you now need to let go of any and all claims over your exes. 




Whether your best friend thinks that your ex may be the one for her is irrelevant—it’s not your issue. Married people don’t get to pick and choose who their exes date.


Now that you know the rules, let’s look at your feelings. While you don’t get to choose, your feelings of jealousy are real and won’t be that easy to push aside. So, while you can’t change what goes down between your friend and your ex, you can acknowledge to yourself what you’re feeling and then work with those feelings. 


Sounds to me like you have more letting go of this guy to do. Do it before the wedding. Walk down the aisle knowing that you made the right choice and that you’re ready for all your friends to find the loves of their lives, too. 


The Straight Man’s Perspective: Chris Kennedy
When we travel, every experience is heightened and we have loose agendas—and sometimes loose morals. New experiences are around every corner, and there’s no job to worry about or work to do. We’re more open to the world than we normally are, and hence more open to feeling and learning. Unfortunately, that’s not how most of us usually operate. 


The fact is, there was no relationship with this guy as a boyfriend, or even as a friend, outside of your vacation. That’s reality. Another reality is your happy engagement. Let’s give attention to that and not worry about the other stuff. 


You’re asking if your jealousy is wrong. I don’t think the right-or-wrong question has anything to do with what you need to do. What you do need to do is get over your selfish feelings of jealousy and focus on what’s important and what you can control—your life and your relationship. Both are plenty worthy of your effort and attention. Do that, and you won’t have any jealousy fuel left in the tank—and you’ll be able to leave your vacation baggage behind. 


The Straight Woman’s Perspective: Rebecca Brown
A funny thing happens when you’re about to get married: you start to panic about “forever” and about never having another first date, first kiss, or first roll in the hay with someone ever again. Then, adding insult to injury, the universe starts tempting you. About two months into my engagement, for example, the heavens opened up and dropped good-looking man after good-looking man in my path every day. I actually remember one fateful day specifically: I swiveled around in my chair and saw a handsome, hard-bodied window washer hanging outside my fourth-floor office window, every muscle in his arm rippling from the sheer effort of washing our very dirty, dirty windows. So dirty! (Sorry, I lapsed into fantasy mode there.) And I wondered to myself, Why am I getting married?  




My point is, just because you’re about to marry someone doesn’t mean that you suddenly become blind to other men’s charms and good looks. You also don’t erase the memories of people you cared about before you met your fiancé. I’m certainly no expert on this topic, but I believe that marriage is a choice you make every day, starting the day you say yes to the proposal and right on through ’til death do you part. It’s not all going to be one big, flowery bed of delightfulness; you’ll have to make choices big and small every day. (“Do I throw his underwear in the hamper for him? Or just set the whole effin’ pile on fire to prove a point?”) 


So right now, you have to choose: your fiancé or Vacation Boy? Is Vacation Boy someone you’d really want to be with long-term? Or are you just a little tweaked that he’s showing up and expressing interest in your BF, and that because you’re engaged you can’t do anything about it? It’s okay if that’s the case, by the way. (And I’m guessing it might be.) You’re human and that’s normal. But I think if you and Vacation Boy really wanted to be together, you would’ve found a way to make it happen. So choose your fiancé … and let your friend choose whether she’ll have the pleasure of burning Vacation Boy’s underwear. 


Read Part Two of the November 4-Way.
Read the previous 4-Way column.
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