About a year ago I met a guy in my German language class. He was a 29-year old, quite attractive French law graduate named Adrien. We got along very well and after the course had ended, we kept seeing each other a lot. The night before New Year’s Eve we were out for a drink and one thing led to another and it eventually led to five weeks of dating. After those five weeks we realized we were not in love with each other and that we wanted different things from a relationship so decided to stop dating and continue as friends as that had worked better. We both travelled a lot after that and were busy with our jobs and life in general, so needless to say, we didn’t see each other quite as often. Invitations for different house warming parties and concerts were exchanged so I was not very surprised when he sent me a message the day after my birthday to congratulate me.
I was online when receiving this message so we started chatting and I asked him if he would be coming to my birthday party two days later. He said he wouldn’t be in town so he wouldn’t be able to make it. I told him to give me a ring when back in town so we could have a coffee and catch up. He thanked me for the invitation but declined, saying ‘my girl wouldn’t like that’. It does not happen often, but I was flabbergasted. Not about the fact that he had a girlfriend – he was very much ready for a serious relationship – but about the fact that we apparently couldn’t meet for a coffee as friends. I replied casually ‘why would that be a problem? It’s not like I’m hitting on you haha’. He said his girlfriend didn’t like it when he met with ‘exes’. I exploded into shock so I said I thought it was ridiculous, told him to grow a pair and that I wished him good luck with that.
I was in the middle of unfriending him on Facebook (no need to keep a ‘friend’ who you are not allowed to see in real life, right?) when I received a reply. It was his girlfriend.
The message started off nice enough with wishing me a happy birthday and the information that she had just celebrated her birthday herself. Soon enough the gloves came off and the claws came out. ‘Not sure what I had meant by ‘wishing him luck with that’ but she pitied me and my tone of voice. Goodbye.’ My hands were in my hair and definitely itching – who was this (excuse my French) bitch whom I had never met replying for him and telling me she pitied me. In conflict with my rational head, my hands were already writing a friendly reply that I had not meant harm by my comment but that I simply thought it was ridiculous that I was counted as ‘ex’ and was therefor ‘not allowed’ to meet up for a casual coffee. I wrote grow a pair simply because I felt it was his obligation to explain to her that this situation was nothing sexual or flirty and that he should have had the decency to explain that to her. What happened after that, I still cannot quite comprehend.
A flow of digital jealous frenzy came pouring my way through the screen and with each sentence my disbelief grew stronger. It went from her seeing ‘no reason whatsoever that I should want to meet with him’ via ‘them living together now so she definitely had a say in this’ to ‘it being rude for me to ask him out for a coffee and not inviting her since they were ‘together now’ and that all his friends had the decency to invite her to all social events and that I had not which was, once again, a pity’. I did not reply after this but closed the screen with disbelief and confusion. Had I just been digitally ‘told off’ by a jealous girlfriend of a friend who I had happened to date a month or so a year ago?
I wondered why I was ticked off by this girl who meant nothing to me and was, in my humble opinion, totally wrong. Was it because Adrien obviously had put his spine in this girlfriend’s hands and that made me a fool to have dated him? Was it because the girlfriend was obviously enjoying the power she had over her man, making me feel embarrassed about being confronted with a stereotype of a woman? Or was it perhaps that I, thinking I have it all figured out as an independent aiming-for-21st-century-success type of girl, did not have relationships and what the balance should be like all figured out and approached the difference between men and women all wrong? With the sexual revelation supposedly behind us and women and men becoming more equal, is that really what we should be aiming for in a relationship and is that something that also men aspire?