When Three's a Crowd

I get email all the time from women who want to have their cake and eat it too. Specifically, they want to remain tight with a close male friend in their lives and can't understand why their new boyfriend objects to this platonic ménage à trois.

"Why is my new guy so unreasonable?" these women wonder. "Why doesn't he understand the difference between a boyfriend and a boy friend?"

My girlfriend Cloe has had an old ex-boyfriend in her life for years. Let's call him Max. Max helps her around the house. He keeps her plants alive, and he tends to her dog in a manner that suggests a de facto joint custody agreement. Sometimes he even accompanies her to parties where Cloe needs what she would call company '- and what I would call a fawning entourage.

Everyone loves Max, even Cloe '- just not in that special way she needed for their romantic relationship to work. And though Max and Cloe's romance came to an "official" end, the way he's still willing to wait on her hand and foot leads me to wonder if they are secretly married. The fact that they don't have sex doesn't change my opinion. After all, lots of formerly married people (a.k.a. me) didn't necessarily have very much sex with the person they were married to (again, me).

But now Cloe has Gregory, who is as tall and dark as Max is short and pale, and who satisfies Cloe in a way that Max can't. And Gregory says Max has got to go. He'd rather see Cloe's philodendrons shrivel and die than know Max has a key to her apartment and is over there making sure the soil is moist and the dog is walked.

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