I’ve been thinking this blog post for a very long time. Since my mid 20’s it has been a priority for me to be friends with ex boyfriends but in the last 6 months I have come to question that mindset. And yet, here I am, decidedly sure… it is important (for me) to be friends with my exes.
Before I tell why and how I am able to do so, I need to set some boundaries…
- I consider an ex as someone I have dated more than 3 times, exclusivity not required. This is important to understand as I am not someone who will go on 3 dates with just anyone. This pool of men I am seeking friendship with is more like a hot tub… or kiddy pool. (It’s small.)
- I, under no circumstance, am friends with an ex that was disrespectful or mean. I don’t care how long we dated, I don’t need or want that in my life and I have 2 of them.
The first question I am often asked (typically by the soon-to-be-ex) is why being friends is so important to me. I have a lot of reasons or theories, but the ones I keep coming back to are these….
- I am not vulnerable with a lot of people, I want to maintain relationships with those I have opened up to and feel comfortable being myself with.
- I see the world as being very small. The likelihood that our lives will intertwine again is significant.
- I date pretty amazing guys. Which is why this is perhaps the most important reason…. by choosing to have them in life I am saying that who they are and their impact matters and counts. They are valuable, significant, and worth keeping in my life even if it wasn’t how I originally imagined. Wouldn’t you want someone to think the same about you?
I am no expert on dating, but I do have a strong track record of being friends post break-ups. This is how…
Give it time: Both parties need time to separate feelings and, in some cases, heal. For me, it typically takes a month whether or not we dated four times or four months. I will only call once I feel like my emotions are under control.
Be happy: Part of that waiting is also making sure I am in a place that I can be happy for them and their new relationship. Being jealous is normal, even healthy, but I acknowledge that I care more them and their happiness than I do about being with them.
Acknowledge the end: Even the easiest of break-ups can leave things undone. During our first get together, I bring up the ending and help close the loop on questions either of us may have. I always wait until the end of our get together and I preface it by saying how much I care for them. We are all human. We make mistakes. Break ups can be ugly even with the best intentions. Thankfully, closure is a powerful thing.
And just a gentle reminder…
Sometimes you need to keep it neutral: With some exes significant feelings will never go away and it is easy to slip back into old habits. If that is the case, keep the friendship neutral – never putting it in a place or situation that can compromise it. Again… it is about caring more for them than about being with them. I would much rather have their lifetime friendship than a fleeting fling.
Have you had success being friends with an ex? Would love to know if you do things similarly or different!