The answer: Everybody!
I just finished watching a recording of ‘The Wendy Williams Show.’ During the “Hot Topics” segment, she talked about Ryan Secrest hanging out with the brother of his now EX-girlfriend, Julianne Hough. (Let’s just agree to ignore the obvious, ok?). Wendy posed the question to her audience: Is it ok to continue to hang out with your friend or family member’s ex?
Listen, my first, last and only loyalty in these situations is my family or my friend. In fact, I try extremely hard not to become too friendly with the significant other. Why? Because people often have a difficult time distinguishing hanging out and having fun from a real and genuine friendship. Just because we can laugh and joke does not mean we’re friends. I am the product of two “Chatty Cathies,” neither of whom has ever met a stranger. I can hold a conversation with a deaf, mute, six year old (provided I’ve had a reasonable amount of coffee). So me talking to you means absolutely nothing. Another trait I have — I can turn it off on a dime. When I’m done, I’m done and that’s it. Period. I inherited this trait, good or bad, from my dearly departed Uncle. When my friends or family tell me they’re ending their relationship, they may as well say “[So and so] is dead” because that’s how I treat them. I delete phone numbers, block on social networks and label email addresses as spam. And why shouldn’t I? I don’t want to remain “friends” and listen to them throw shade at their ex (i.e., my friend/family). And I don’t want to hear about their new love. I also don’t want to have to sensor my conversation to ensure that I’m not accidentally keeping them informed about the life of their ex (aka my friend or family).
There is one exception to this rule. If there are kids involved, then you suck it up and fake the funk for the sake of the kids. But you also have to be abundantly clear with the ex as to where your loyalties lie. The ex has to always know that no matter how much you do for their kids, no matter how many laughs you share, that if you were on a sinking boat and only had three life vests, you’d get the first one, your friend/family would get the second one and maybe, just maybe, the ex might get the third one, provided one of your real friends, or your favorite coffee shop barista, didn’t also need the vest.
Moral of the story: make sure everybody knows their place in your life (and don’t be afraid to remind them).