01
Oct
08

The Ex Factor: Can you be friends?

I would love to know if there is one good answer to this question. I have heard SO many different opinions about this very topic and I never know which one is right. I’ve come to learn that this depends on a lot of things.

Last night I went out with my ex for a drink. We broke up exactly four years ago, but we have managed to remain good friends. There are several reasons for this – first of all, “X” and I worked together so it wasn’t really an option for us not to get along. Secondly, I had become very good friends with his sister and her fiancee, to the point where they are now my two best friends in the world. Lastly, X and I didn’t have a bad break-up. It was completely mutual and there was no real anger or resentment. We always had a great time together but at the end of the day, we didn’t really have the same expectations of what we wanted in the relationship. X has remained an important staple in my life, and is still someone who knows me better than anyone. But before I go any further, let me preface the rest of this post by saing that there is zero chance of us ever getting back together. We are better as friends than we ever were as a couple, and we are both on the same page with that. But, as Carrie Bradshaw once said in a Sex and the City episode, “If you love someone, and you break-up – where does the love go?”

Having said that, it wasn’t smooth sailing to figure out the whole friendship thing. There are definitely new boundaries that have to be drawn and some ties that need to be cut. When X starting dating someone a year after our break-up, it was incredibly difficult for me, as X and I had settled into this really good, post-break-up friendship. And despite the fact that I can say with absolute certainty that X and I will never get back together, it still felt as though someone was moving in on my territory. Trying to be friends during that year was made even harder by the fact that X’s new girlfriend was not happy that he had any ties to me whatsoever, and he inevitably ended up pulling away. When they broke up a year later, X and I were able to reconnect as friends as though nothing had ever happened.

I always “poo-pooed” my girlfriends who would argue that there was no way you could be friends with an ex, demonstrating that X and I were a great example of that exact thing. But several months ago, X and I had a BIG falling out. We didn’t talk for six months, whereas we had barely gone a month without talking before. Sadly, I can say with pretty solid certainty that X and I wouldn’t have had this argument had we never dated. It’s hard to stop some of those “girlfriend” type behaviours that come along with being friends with an ex, especially when you have dated a long time, or have continued to have them in your life and have never broken those habits. And although X was far from innocent in this situation, I will admit that my reaction was not warranted either, based on the fact that a lot of my anger stemmed from that type of gf behavior that’s hard to get rid of. It wasn’t until this falling out that I did really start to question whether or not exes can really be friends – do you ever fully let go of those habits? I had never doubted this before.

X and I patched things up over drinks last night, which I’m really relieved about. It has been awful and awkward when we’ve hung out with his sister and brother-in-law (made more complicated by the fact that I was the Maid of Honour and X was the Best Man at their wedding, during the time we weren’t speaking). He’ll always be in my life given my relationship with his sister, but I’m much more cautious now about how involved of a friendship we will have, and I’m sad to say that I’m not sure we’ll be as close as we were before this falling out. And maybe that’s better..? I don’t know.

Anyone have thoughts/experiences to share on this topic?

I had to include the below clip from one of my favourite movies, “When Harry Met Sally”. No one can expalain male/female realationships/friendships like Billy Crystal!

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9 Responses to “The Ex Factor: Can you be friends?”


  1. October 1, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Yes, it is possible to have a great friendship with your EX. My first hubby and I remain friends although we divorced several years ago. Not only that, but his “new” wife and I are also friends and I have an open invitation to stay with them whenever I am in their province. How is this achieved? By clearly outlining boundaries and expectations of the relationship to all people involved.

    My adult “daughter” similarly has a good relationship with her EX. We are trying to pass this same concept on to my grand daughter. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t for her. Check out some reasons why on my blog Love My Journey at http://www.sherrieh.wordpress.com. Some of the tips to life have helped we three have a friendship with the men we have loved in the past. The other thing we are aware of is how astrology helps us to blend our relationships. See http://www.astromoon.wordpress.com for my budding blog on this. We have grown beyond those men, but that is okay.

    Angel blessings on your journey!

  2. 2 Single Girl
    October 1, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing Sherrieh! It’s nice to know that is possible to maintain good, healthy friendships with exes – I’m confident that it can happen. I’m starting to learn that setting those boundaries and expectations is the key.

  3. 3 mscambridge
    October 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Sorry to be the voice of doom – but I am not so sure it is possible. Although it must have something to do with how you break up and how essential it is to stay in contact. Good luck with your ex.

  4. October 19, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    I am currently in this situation. Friends with the x. I think its possible but it is difficult. Once you share that physical attraction and you know each other in and out, its hard to look at them in their eyes and not wont to hold, smell, kiss and love them. I broke up with my x in Jan and we tried the friendship route several times which ended up in us having sex and me crying days later. This on going pattern still continues and I don’t know why!

    He did get a new girl which broke my heart into a million pieces! She was the new me! She was stealing my man! But the more I thought about it, relationships come and go and I would rather have my x be a constant man in my life vs be a temp man in my life. I dont have the answer to this but I do know it is hard, when it comes to matters of the heart its hard. Each time I see him I want to hold him and never let go, but the reality is, you are x’s for a reason and sometimes its better to let go than to hold on the idea of him…


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