The Circulating Library!
The first I figured this concept was when I studied as a student in Pune. Given the city and how small it was a decade ago, I figured that it was entirely possible to be connected to everyone under one roof in a romantic/fling fashion. So your ex-boyfriend and current one, with a fling or two and a crush on the side having a perfectly happy conversation, ordering drinks and munching on starters was a regular reality. A friend fondly termed it then as ‘Pune’s circulating Library’ and everyone was fair game! The rules were simple: Dating a friend’s ex – make sure the friend is cool with it. If not, change your group of friends till he/she calms down!
The circulating library concept seems to be one in vogue in the lesbian community: Case of few numbers, fewer single women and yes, off course the attraction of the forbidden. The first advice I got from my first lesbian friend who sat me down the night I came out to her was, “The lesbian world is very incestuous. So the first thing you have to learn is to be friends with your exes and your flings! We are just simply too few in numbers! Get ready for it.”
It wasn’t merely lip service or just random advice. I’ve seen exes hang out with their ex-girlfriends and their current partners without even a mere raising of the eye brow from friends. In fact, some of them have gone out of their way to play cupid for their ex-girlfriend! The rhyme for dating success in the lesbian community could well be –
if the girl you must win,
with the ex-girlfriend you must begin.
Trust personal experience – if her ex-girlfriend doesn’t like you – you ain’t gonna score brownie points! And yes, bitching out your ex-girlfriend –unless she was Cruella the second — is not at all a good idea. She might soon be a part of the same group or dating a close friend and having to eat every nasty thing you said about her could give you a serious case of indigestion!
Nonetheless, it’s a tough art to master – to steel yourself as you watch an ex girlfriend or fling move on with ease and to deal with many such occasions with tact and diplomacy! The knowing that your current crush could have dated every single woman in the room and still be super cool is a skill you must perfect before you jump into the dating scene. Sometimes, it also tests your observation skills and memory in conversation around a dinner table, as you watch the undercurrents of ‘who’s been with whom’ before you open your mouth!
What however seems to weather and tide above it all is the strong bond of friendship. A gay friend who I questioned who hangs out with her ex-and her partner says with much ease and genuineness: “I am happy for her. Her current girlfriend makes her happy. How can I begrudge her that?” And as I watch her dance with her ex or laugh at a common past, I can’t help but agree. Another friend says, “I’ve moved on. She’s moved on. What I share with her is still special and nobody can replace that. If it came to believing me or believing the world – she would listen to me.”
The bond of friendship, having shared something super special – perhaps is enough as to what makes the Ex-Factor a serious reality in our world. The faster you realize that, the better it is for your ability to stay in circulation! And stay well-read.