Monday, November 23, 2009

Can you be friends with an Ex?

Every guy I have ever dated I have wanted to stay friends with after we decided it wasn’t going to work out. (Aside from a few losers in high school. Side note- I actually found out one of my high schools exes spent the last 7 years in prison- I tell ya, I know how to pick em!)

Anyway, this usually leads to a very long, very drawn out confusing break up. My long-timer, that I dated all through college (’98-’02), and I were never able to completely get away from each other until 2005 even though we broke up in early 2003. That is the most extreme case, and now that we have had four years of not seeing each other, we are able to chat on the phone strictly as friends, but it took a long time and a couple hundred miles between us to get to that point.

But I guess I didn’t learn my lesson with that one because my last two break ups have been mini-versions of that one. We decide to just be friends, then we get back together, then we break up, try to be friends again, and it starts a vicious circle.

The problem is that these guys are really good guys, they just aren’t the one for me. Over time they have come to be my best friend and I just don’t want to throw that away. But it always makes things harder.

The only way I have been able to completely get away from them is when all communication stops for an extended period of time. Then, as in the case with the long timer, it seems like we have enough time and distance from the relationship that we can just be friendly without all the confusion.

So freeders, have you ever been able to stay friends with an ex? How did you make that transition?


habecker said...

No. it is not wise or healthy.

to stay friends with an 'ex' is to back-peddle and become or rather, pretend it is less than it was. you can not go backwards. once you have been in relationship with someone you can not then be less than you are.
meaning, i can not be JUST friends with him. what i felt and had towards and with him can not become less.

it only serves to hurt you (both). and keep you from truly, wholly grieving and healing.

also, after doing this myself for some time, i then had this question pop in my head, What happens when you get married? what do you do with the male friend you've been going to for emotional support? that intimacy belongs between a husbend and wife alone.

this is something i feel very strongly about.

i am not friends with "ex's", nor am i friends/friendly/or ever alone with men who are not my husbend. i do this to guard both my heart as well as my husbends and our marriage.

thank you for letting me share :)

Sam said...

I'm currently trying to remain friends with my ex. We were together from Feb 06-June 09 and I just can't imagine throwing away our friendship because he was truly my best friend. It's been difficult because he doesn't want to be as close of friends as I want ( I may be being selfish) but I really want it to work out. We talk a few times each week, we've gone to the movies and I've come over to play with his dog, but nothing as much as I thought. I used to think that I wanted to be back with him, but I have realized I was just missing the friendship aspect. I'm hoping the friendship strengthens as time goes on. But what do I know, this was my first serious relationships and breakup. :-/

Jenn said...

Um yeah I definitely do not stay friends with my exes. I want to believe that without me their life is grey and lonely and they are forever sitting at home pining away for me (a girl can dream right?). Being friends just means I need to be happy that they are not doing said things.

This is especially true if they are "nice but just not for me" because then I get confused. Inevitably I remember why we broke up and it just hurts everyone's feelings even more.

It's just too hard sometimes to be friends cause then you are just missing someone you see everyday. Moving on means distancing yourself from them to silence the "what ifs". You know the "what if he is the one for me?" and "what if I tied him to his chair and put a picture of me on the wall and then he can miss me all the time?" Again, I prefer pining.

Caitlin said...

I am still friends with my ex-boyfriend. We dated pretty much all through college, and the break-up was hard, but we kept in touch via phone and e-mail for a while (we broke up, in part, because we were going to grad school 900 miles apart, so it wasn't like we were going to run into each other).

When he started dating someone else, I found that I definitely needed some space. I was having a hard time getting over things, and so I needed to not hear from him for a while. But after a period of non-communication, we were able to become friendly again. We have a lot of mutual friends, so it's difficult to sever all contact for an extended period of time.

I wouldn't say that we are very close, but we have lunch once or twice a year and chat online every couple of months or so. It seems to be a good balance. I feel like we are able to honor each other as an important part of our past lives, without having any strong connection so that we are able to have healthy relationships with our current loves. He called me to let me know that he was engaged himself before it was blasted all over facebook, etc, which I thought was kind and respectful. And I was genuinely happy for him.

It's probably not for everyone, or every past relationship, but I think being friends with an ex can be a good thing. But a period of space after the initial break-up seems to be essential. Or at least, it was for me.

heidi said...

No. It's not fair to you, to him, or to the guy that's out there waiting in the wings. How will you meet the other guy if your needs are being met with someone else? I also agree with habecker- what do you do with the guy you've been going to for emotional support when you do meet someone?
No. Bad idea.

Lindsey said...

I wanted to remain friends with an ex. i mean, i really really really wanted to go back to the way it was before...when we were just friends. but, it was too hard-on the both of us. i still really miss his friendship. so, if anyone out there can make it work, i am deeply impressed.

:: Jenna :: said...

if you would have asked me this question like 3 years ago I would say "there is no benefit that comes from remaining friends with an ex" I mean you dumped them or vice versa what good would it do you to remain friends? right? or so i thought.

when i first met my ex (not the recent one, the one before him) it was 10 years prior of use being friends to us "saying hey maybe we can work in a relationship" which lasted about 9 -10 months and well I ended things cause it just seemed a little too much dealing with someone who, not to be rude was too clung to his mom's apron strings still at the age of 36 that it ended up taking a toll in our relationship that I just couldn't handle. (just my preference that I want a man who loves his mom but isn't ruled by her completely).

Need less to say my ex took the break up pretty hard and when it came that someone else entered my life, he even became moody and went into a mode where he was always trying to conveniently be around in the middle and I had to once again hurt him with the truth...

It wasn't until i gave him space and we stopped slowly talking as much that now I can say we talk to each other and we both have had exes since then in between and we are able to be friends again. We talk about 3 weeks in between sometimes a lil more and always know that we were friends before lovers and had a love for each other as friends so once that space was given it really helped the process of going back to friends.

So I totally agree with Caitlin on this one. Space and some time is the best answer if you want to gain that friendship etc.

AnnQ said...

Hmmm...I think it'd different in each situation.

I'm still friends with two exes, and they're both going great. But I had to stop being friends with another ex because he turned into a jealous jerk-off.

So, I really do think it can work, just not in every situation.

Wani said...

I always want to make the "just friends" thing work too. Unfortunately it only happened once. The only guy that I dated that I was able to stay friends with was the one that things never got physical with. I think that is what made the difference.

Jen the Beachbum said...

I think it depends on the situation and what you consider being friends. Recently my ex-husband tried to contact me via Facebook and I blocked him and it really bothered me. I don't want anything to do with him because he isn't right in the head (never was) and I don't want to deal with him still pining over me even though we divorced 10 years ago. I think it is creepy. However, that being said, guys I dated in the past who I ended things on good terms with, I would have no problem being friends with online because I know they aren't stalking me, and that I have no feelings for them, nor they for me. I don't think I'd be hanging out with them in person though simply because it might make my boyfriend uncomfortable.

I agree with what some others have said too, if you are spending time with a guy friend, it does sort of make it difficult to meet a new guy, and if there is any confusion on either side as to what you mean to each other it will turn out bad.

Suz said...

Thanks for all your thoughts, opinions, and experiences guys! I think it does depend on the situation but no matter what it is going to be a little difficult (or maybe a lot!) I really enjoyed all your comments on this topic- it was very insightful!

Seriously? said...

No--you shouldn't try to remain close friends. Unless he turned out to be gay, this is a horrible idea.

Optimistic Pessimist said...

I'm friends with a guy I used to date, but we only dated for a few months. We dated maybe four or five years ago, didn't work out and have been friends since. Not sure how it transitioned, we just both started seeing other people, but remained friends. We've both been single at the same time and never took it there. I think it's safe to say we are completely in that friend mode.

As for someone I was serious with, I don't think I could be friends with them. It sucks to lose your bestfriend along with a boyfriend, but no contact makes it easier to move on.

Simply Natural said...

I agree with habecker - to guard both my heart as well as my husband and our marriage.

Being able to be friends depend on how and why you two break up. I had only one ex before and our breakup wasn't good. He did something hurtful to me while I still had feelings towards him at that time.

I tried to remain friends with him by saying to myself how regretable it will be if I lose someone whom we used to know so well. But I think this is an excuse to myself only. Whether you admit it or not, I subsciously and secretly wish that we can get back to together. So, I hang on to be "friends" to see the chance. This is the case when i had feelings towards a person.

This hindered me from moving on. So, I had to cut off all communications and promised myself not to do this hurtful thing to myself again. Only by cutting off can I move on easier.

So, it's not a good idea to keep in touch to be so-called "friends". be honest with you yourself.