There are several of my friends who, having broken off any sort of romantic dalliance, will do as much as humanly possible to stay out of the other person’s way until… well, kingdom come, ideally. In some cases, this goes further than the normal screening of calls, and avoiding favourite haunts: Speckled Lad has been known to leave the country. Several times.
I don’t subscribe to such extreme measures. I’m rather of the opinion that, if things didn’t end in a blaze of hellfire and thrown crockery, there’s probably enough in common between you to enable you to enjoy the occasional glass of wine. It’s either an alarmingly naïve proposition, or an alarmingly grown-up one. I’ve not yet decided which.
I have several male friends who started life as something other, none of whom I have the desire for anything romantic to happen with, and whom each, in their own way, has something to add to Social Circle Blonde.
There’s Long Term Ex. When we broke up, I wouldn’t have been able to sit down with him over a whisky - it was too painful even to picture him, or think of his voice. But over time, that’s disappeared and these days he’s a good friend. Now, should I ever need someone to recommend an album of - his words - dirty country music (which, if I’m honest, is so rare as to have never, ever happened), he’s right there. He’s also an expert on all manners of formal etiquette, making Debrett’s look positively oikish; and is deeply useful for sensible diagnoses when I’ve Googled what has ultimately turned out to be a heat rash, but I’ve managed to convince myself is necrotising fasciitis.
There’s The Architect - not only is he a dear friend (despite being of an alarmingly left-leaning political persuasion), he’s introduced us to his now-wife Gin Operated, who has become a crucial cog in the Social Circle Blonde machine.
And Minor Celeb and I still have a good relationship (give or take his, um, moments); his recent requests for my thoughts on his latest project were uncharacteristically graciously received.
My theory that previous romantic entanglements have excellent potential as friends was reaffirmed recently when I went for a drink with The Planner.
Following our two good dates, it was obvious that he and I get on well enough to have sufficient to talk about for the duration of a couple of glasses (okay, okay, a bottle) of wine. And, with the wherewithal to know that, just because we’ve shared a bit of a snog, that fact doesn’t preclude us from spending a pleasant, platonic evening together, we did. We chatted about work, holidays, families, nothing in particular. I teased him about his inability to spear the olives sitting in the bowl in front of us; he mocked my directional incapabilities (I very nearly didn’t make it out of the tube station, let alone to the bar). It was one of the most relaxed and relaxing evenings I’ve had in a long time.
It’s reiterated my belief that if, once, you liked each other enough to put up with how they looked in the morning, and the way they were inclined to drink juice out of the carton, then it’s rather childishly cutting off your nose to spite your face to banish Ex from your life just because one or both of you are now sleeping with other people.
Which is good, because if I had to skip the country every time things went tits-up, there’d be no money for shoes. And that would be a sad state of affairs indeed.