After Philly Matt and I broke up in 2006, we stayed in touch and enjoyed occasional benefits with each other. We both dated other people, but for over a year, we never discussed that fact. Our break-up was too fresh, and we were still transitioning from exes to friends.
In 2008, our friendship really started to grow and the benefits became secondary. No topic was off-limits between us, although we tried not to be too detailed about other people we dated. When I started this blog, I was pleasantly surprised that he became one of my first regular readers. As I prepared to write the posts about our break-up, I asked him if he was okay if I included everything that happened.Philly Matt: Of course. What you write is honest and what happened. How can I have a problem with that?
In 2009, he passed on my blog link to a co-worker. The next day at work, the co-worker walked in, turned to Philly Matt and said:
You’re an idiot!!!
We both laughed about that and frequently commented about how lucky we were to be such close friends. It can be tough to be good friends with an ex, but we managed to do so. I also let Matt know that I would not care to read intimate details about him and any of his girlfriends (past or present).
Me: I don't mind knowing general details, but I give you credit for reading all the stuff you do about me with other guys.
When I was with “Buckeyes” Boy, I had a hard time figuring out how Philly Matt could join our group at our annual ski trip without causing “Buckeyes” Boy to get jealous or mad. When Matt started dating Tammy, I questioned whether his relationship would impact our friendship. I hadn’t addressed the matter directly with him before I blogged about it. The following day, he called me to say:
I want you in my life until the day I take my last breath. You are a very important person to me and anyone I date will need to know that and be okay with that. If you call me in the middle of the night and need me, she's going to need to understand that I have to go. Staying friends with you is not negotiable.
Philly Matt was my confidante and a great advice giver. I’m not normally one for tough love, but Matt always managed to phrase his constructive criticism in a way that was endearing and resonated with me.
In late November 2010, I learned that Philly Matt and Linda, the mother of his children, had been dating on and off since they met in the early 1990s. The fact that we were exes and close friends and that I hadn’t heard of this before caught me completely off guard. We regularly talked about Linda, Tammy, his ex-girlfriends and his children. Getting involved repeatedly with the mother of your children isn’t trivial information.
If I had felt 100%, I might have addressed the issue immediately. But, the combination of steroids, early menopause and chemotherapy drugs had me feeling emotional, foggy and exhausted. I figured I could bring the matter up when we spoke next and that’s what I did. When the topic turned to Linda and the children, I asked:
Has Linda brought up your relationship with Tammy again?
Philly Matt: No. I told her that she needed to let it be, and I think that’s what she’s doing.
Me: That’s good. [Pause.] You know…I was surprised to hear when we talked last that you and Linda had been on and off for all these years. When we dated, you told me that you guys hadn’t been together since Chloe was a baby. And, we talk so frequently, it’s odd that this never came up.
I paused to let him say something, but he didn’t.
Me: I’m happy for you and Tammy. I’ve never heard you talk about a girl the way you talk about her, and I hope to meet her when I’m done with treatment. But, I’m rooting for you and Linda. If you guys keep coming back to each other year after year for 17 or 18 years, then there has to be something there. [I pause again, but he doesn’t say anything.] And, anytime you’ve brought up Linda’s comments about Tammy and your responses, none of them are: Tammy’s the one. I’m in love with Tammy. This is it for me.
All of your responses are about how Linda had her chance and how she chose to break up with you. That sounds more like you’re upset at Linda than choosing Tammy over her.
Philly Matt: Okay.
I had given Matt my two (or 25) cents and have never brought up the matter with him again. I kept my focus on the fact that I was thankful to call him my friend and looked forward to having him down in DC for my fifth round of chemotherapy in December.