Ex-husbands, ex-wives, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-lovers…we all have them so now what?
How do we know when to draw the line? How do we know when its best to call it quits for real and how do we know when to design a new relationship? How do we make rational decisions in irrational situations?
How do we separate reason from emotion?
I have two ex-husbands. I had a child with each of them and we are all friends. I have a significant ex-boyfriend who I loved very much but we don’t speak and likely won’t. I have former lovers who I consider friends as well as those who I have lost contact with. The decision whether or not to remain friends depends on several things, asking yourself these questions will help you decide.
1. Was there abuse?
Not just physical abuse but psychological or emotional abuse?
If the answer is yes then stop here and run like hell. Your ex cannot be your friend. There is no reason for it. Let it go even if he or she seems different as a friend than they were as a lover. Let it go even if you share children or a business or a fancy boat or vacation house. If there was abuse in an intimate relationship there will be abuse in a friendship.
Let it go.
2. Are there children?
If there is no abuse and you can get along with one another then being friends is probably a very good idea.
It’s not always easy to switch roles, actually, it really never is even for the person who chose to end the relationship but if we are to remain friends then switch roles we must.
For a long time after we split up my ex-husband still occasionally called me Honey by accident. Each time he would make a genuine gagging sound and apologize. Learning to become only parents, not partners can be difficult, but well worth it.
It assures that no one is left out. As unconventional as it may be, my first ex-husband—though we have been divorced for almost twenty years—has spent every major holiday and birthday with my second husband and our children. We never wanted our daughter to have to chose, so we chose for her.
We chose to be friends.
It took a while with my second husband when we split up but we too choose to be friends, so I now have dinner at my daughters house or go to birthday parties at the park with both of my ex husbands. They have a lot in common now. I do, after all, share children with these men and though the kids are (nearly) grown, it benefits them greatly to have all of their parents around.
3. Does having him or her in your life make your life better?
Some people split up not for lack of love, but simply because they can’t make the relationship details work. Some people are just better off as friends.
Does your ex support you and encourage you and behave in the way your other friends do? Does he or she make you a better person? Do you share things that are important in your life? This is one that might take some thought. We need to consider when asking this question if what we are telling ourselves is true.
Do they really make our lives better or do we just wish they did because we love or loved them? If the answer is yes and if you being part of your exes life benefits them as well then a good, solid friendship is quite possible. If not, if your ex is a source of stress, anxiety or worry then remind yourself why you are no longer together and run like hell.
You have other friends.
4. If you had no history, would you want to be his/her friend?
Love aside, is your ex someone you like? If you met them for the first time today, would you find them interesting? Engaging? Funny? Would the two of you have much in common?
Do you share interests? Do they embody the qualities you want in a friend? If so then maybe your ex is a good friend to have. If not, if you met him or her today and didn’t end up feeling like you wanted to learn more about them, introduce them to your friends or help them move if they asked then you should probably run like hell.
5. Are you both able to leave the past in the past?
It’s hard to have a friendship when one or both parties is angry or harboring resentments or anticipating disaster. Have you broken any negative patterns from the past relationship? Have you moved beyond jealousy and ownership? Have you forgiven each other?
For a friendship to be healthy forgiveness is necessary and sometimes its more difficult to forgive and move forward when love is involved. If either of you just cant seem to let go of old hurts and if those things keep resurfacing and putting strain, stress or sorrow on the relationship then it might be to soon to be friends.
Don’t let yesterday destroy today. If the past keeps coming back to haunt you, then maybe your ex is not the friend for you.
6. Does it come easy?
If it feels natural then go with it. The people we share the most with, the people who know our dark sides and love us anyway, the ones who know what makes us tick…those are the best friends to have. If it feels natural to be close to your ex then by all means do it but if it feels forced or fake or wrong then it’s not worth it. Cut your losses.
7. Are one or both of you still in love but having a relationship is out of the question?
If the answer to this is yes then please, run—don’t walk, run.
If you’ve ever had a broken heart, this needs no explanation. No good will come from trying to be friends in this case.
The choice to remain friends with an ex is a very personal one. What is right with one person might not be right with another. It is a sad thing to share a part of ourselves with another only to have them become someone we use to know but sometimes that’s whats best.
Ask yourself these questions, ask your ex these questions and let your heart decide.
There are over seven billion people on the planet, you can find plenty of other friends, but if your life is at all like mine, being friends with an ex might actually benefit everyone, feel completely natural and be the best choice you could ever make.
“I’d Never Marry You, But Can We Still be Friends?”
Author: Kimby Maxson
Editor: Renée Picard
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