NOT to do list for new relationships.

A friend is visiting from back east this week. She met a man on a dating site. They had some online banter, and she requested more pictures from him, since the ones on his profile were mostly head shots. That’s a reasonable request, right? He asked for her mobile phone number so he could send the pictures. She complied. He sent (attached) a self portrait naked in bed. With the corny caption: “*Stretch, Yawn* Do I have to get up? G’ mornin’.”

What do you predict her reaction was?

  1. “Damn, that’s hot! Wish I were there to get you up.”
  2. A picture of herself naked.
  3. Lose my number, quick.

If you chose #3, you were correct.

This is a grown man who needs to be schooled on dating etiquette. He sent this picture to one woman. How many people does he assume have seen it? Probably one. In reality, she has shown dozens, and I just posted it here to thousands. Now, this guy quite possibly has a massive ego and is unfazed and flattered by the spread of his nonsense. If nobody calls him on it, he’ll continue doing it. I’m confident he will eventually find a woman who finds it sexy. Maybe he’s strong enough to shrug off the misfires until he meets that woman.

“Dude. I’m sorry, but it’s just creepy,” is what I’d like to tell him.

Another thing people tend to do early in relationships is mention an ex. Bad move–not sometimes, every time. If you trash your ex to your next, you’re showing the person you haven’t healed. How many times have you had boyfriend wind up back with the ex he trashed thoroughly? It happens all the time, Sugartoe.

“I can’t believe he went back to her.”
“How do you know he did?”
“He friended her on Facebook and is tagged in photos with her.”
“OK, that’s slightly stalkerish on your part.”
“It came up on my wall.”
“Bull poopers. Don’t go looking for dirt if you don’t want to get dirty.”
“He said all sorts of awful things about her, including how crazy, controlling, and sexually dull she was. Why would he go back to that?”
“Because she’s really not all those things. He described her that way to justify the split to himself and to disarm you in case she appears in the vicinity.”

If he speaks too highly of his ex, this also waves the yellow flag of caution. It could signal that he’s not over her. This puts the new woman in a defensive posture and ruins the game.

This, among other reasons, is why exes should not come up in conversation. Exes are like sewage treatment plants: We all know they’re around, but nobody wants to visit them.

Uh-oh, ex alert!

You run into people in the strangest places, don’t you? You’re just out minding your own business when you see someone who looks oddly familiar. Your brain scans the files of relatives, coworkers, and classmates. No matches. The person is closing in on you. You blow the dust of your cerebral “names of people I once knew” box and flit through the folders. Hurry!

It’s no use. You’re about to be reintroduced. Last-ditch effort: do the alphabet scan thing.

A – Albert: No. I would never date an Albert.

B – Brian: Hmm, I think I had a one-nighter with a Brian once.

C – Chris: He doesn’t look like a Chris. Maybe if he had lighter hair.

D – Damian: Scary.

E – Edward: My grandfather’s name was Edward. I wouldn’t have forgotten that name.

F – Oh, fuck … too late.

“Hi, Beth, how are you?”

“Fine. So nice to see you again.”

Here comes that awkward hug. Maybe I can match the scent.

“Nice to see you too.”

“Gosh, it has been so long.”

“Oh, silly, last spring isn’t that long ago.”

Time to recover. I wish my dumbass friend would introduce herself before I embarrass myself.

“To you, maybe. I’ve been so busy.”

“So, who’s your friend.”

Come on, girlfriend. God, she’s stupid. This bitch is buying the rest of the night.

“This is Allie.”

“Hi, Allie. I’m Franco. Beth and I met on eHarmony and went on a date last year.”


“Look at that: My glass is empty. Be right back. Anybody need one?”

It’s wise to remove yourself from the stressful situation to regroup and analyze. Search your phone. Nothing. No use signing into eHarmony here. I suggest you use humor to diffuse the situation. If that doesn’t work, lie.

“Oh, hey there, Beth. Welcome back. What are you drinking?”


“… and club soda?”

“… and more vodka.”

This is where your friend excuses herself to allow you to do some treading in the tears of your ex.

“So, I never heard back from you.”

“Um. Yeah. Sorry about that.”

“That’s OK.”


“I mean, I liked you and thought we were a great match.”



“I still do, in fact.”

“You’re sweet.”

“But, you never returned my calls or text messages, so I assumed you weren’t interested.”

“Right. Well …”

“You don’t have to explain. Jeez. It’s like almost two years ago. I’m over it. No biggie.”

“Ah, OK.”

“I’m still single. How about you?”

“Kind of dating someone.”

“Is it serious?”

*gulp* I’m going to kill Allie.

“Serious enough.”

“Do you think you’ll marry him?”

“I don’t know. Gee, where did Allie go?”

“She’s over there talking to the bartender.”

“Oh, maybe she needs a hand.”

“I get it. You’re trying to ditch me. That’s OK. I’m sorry I bothered you.”

“No, not at all. Look, Franco, you’re a great guy. I just wasn’t ready back then, I guess.”

“Well, if you weren’t ready you shouldn’t have been on eHarmony and you certainly shouldn’t have let me take you out.”

“Yep. You’re right.”


“Why don’t you make it up to me by letting me take you out tomorrow night?”

“Because I’m dating someone, remember?”

“You’re just making that up as an excuse to get away from me.”


“Be right back. Hey, Allie …”

As we toss bodies on the pile of exes, we’re eventually going to have to deal with the stench or find new landfills.

Three Sides

I make shit up–that’s what I do. Also, it’s how I am acutely aware when people around me are doing the same. Most stories are bland without the spices of exaggeration, drama, and cattiness. The storyteller pads the story to amuse. Granted, there’s far too much padding at times as I wade through insignificant details toward the disappointing punch line.

When the story has to do with a relationship, it always has three sides: his story, her story, and the truth.

Look, people, we’re each somebody’s ex, right? The older you are, the more exes you’ve accumulated. Your ex is an ex for a reason (good or not). Your ex probably isn’t your biggest fan, putting it mildly. So, when somebody asks your ex for a reference, it’s probably not going to be stellar. Even if the ex gives you some high marks, rest assured that a hairy “but” will follow, which will detail your most undesirable traits.

“You should ask her out.”

“No way, dude. She’s your ex.”

“So? It’s all good.”

“If it were all good she wouldn’t be your ex.”

“Don’t you find her attractive?”

“Very much so. My compliments to you and your fine taste. Feel free to pick out a fine bottle of red for me. As far as the girl goes: I’m not going there.”

“I think you’d make a nice couple.”


“Seriously. She’s smart. In fact, she’s also a writer.”

I look at this the same way I look at investment advice or which flat screen to buy or which movie to attend. The advisor may have good intentions, but in actuality; the intention is to make the advisor feel better about his own investment. If the adviser can easily persuade the advised to follow him off the bridge, he’ll feel more secure.

“Let me introduce you two.”

“No, thank you.”

“There’s nothing between us. Honest. It’s cool.”

“Not doing it.”

“Why not?”

“OK, tell me something about her you didn’t like.”

“Well …”


“Sometimes she could be overly emotional.”

“You just described every non-comatose woman I’ve met. What else?”

“She likes to drink–a bit much sometimes.”

“There’s plenty to go around.”

“See? She’s perfect for you.”

“You’re leaving something out. I know you are.”

“Nope. Meet her and find out for yourself.”

“You suck and I’m not doing it.”

“She’s great in the sack.”

“All right, that seals it. No fucking way I’m going anywhere your dong has been.”

If I took her out, the first topic of conversation after the normal pleasantries would be her ex-boyfriend. She’d first extract from me what he said about her. Based on her reaction to it, she’ddish on him. Of course, it would all be embellished bullshit from her as well.

Like with any investment, bet, or purchase, it’s best to do your own research and bet with your head, not your heart. I can’t recall any relationship with a friend’s ex that worked out, so my head says, Hell no.

Better Than Next

Picture this: You’re single again and back in the mating pool. You’re proudly wearing your positive attitude. You do not have a mate right this second and you may not need one. Still, you glance around to see what’s available. Then you spot your ex … with the next.

What do you do?

I investigate two things when this happens to me:

  1. Has she become more or less attractive since we parted?
  2. How does Mr. Next compare to me?

It makes no difference if we dated for one night or one year; this derails me and distracts me from my hunt for my Ms. Next. The worst scenario involves her noticing my investigation. Subtlety is vital. I’ll swing around behind her to see if that ass has grown. Flaws justify the split whereas enhancements cause reconsideration.

As far as the new guy goes, I’m guessing that this is different from each gender’s viewpoint. If my ex is with a man I rate as more attractive than I am, it’s easier to relent. If he’s a balding tool who is older, wearing faded Levi’s and a sheepish grin, I’m troubled. Why is she with him?

Various scenarios run through my mind:

  1. She’s just trying to make me jealous.
  2. I kicked a dent into her self-esteem.
  3. The guy is fucking loaded.
  4. He has a debilitating disease and she feels sorry for him.
  5. I was there first.

How juvenile of me!

What does my ex think when she sees Ms. Next? Is she tempted to follow her to the restroom and pee all over my résumé? Will she become slightly jealous and open up the possibility of rebound sex? Will she even care?

If Ms. Next is younger than the ex, there’s definitely going to be cat fur flying (ladies, cover your chardonnay). If Ms. Next had any kind of enhancement, the ex will pull a Nancy Grace by staring at it and angrily pointing it out to every friend of hers who ever met me. If Ms. Next and I get into any sort of PDA, she’ll probably insert herself between us and prompt an uncomfortable introduction. (When that happens, I retaliate by acting as though I forgot the ex’s name. All is fair in love.)

Ideally, the one who was last to arrive should leave, to avoid unnecessary conflict. That won’t happen. What will happen includes smirks, sighs, and slurs. As the bucket of exes fills, some animosity is bound to spill. Fortunately, time and alcohol heals all.