To Be or Not To Be…Friends with Your Ex

IMG_0368
credit: cnsnews.com

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.

― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The question of whether ex lovers can ever be ‘just friends’ seems to be a non-unanimous ‘maybe.’ Researching the mags and rags a bit, I surmise that befriending an ex successfully is highly improbable but not impossible. Not surprising, it depends on the two people attempting the feat. Essentially, if the two had a good relationship while lovers, were mature, responsible and communicative, they probably could succeed in being just friends.

Several factors come into play, however. How was the breakup? If acrimonious and one sided, the likelihood of morphing into friendship is slim to none, especially if the ex is a cheating ex. Too many hard feelings carry over into the attempted new relationship that do not get resolved unless the one feeling victimized moves on and gets over the hurt likely to be re-inflamed by the person who caused it in the first place, regardless of time passage.

The one who breaks up with the other, always thinks that the other feels the same way. The “erasure of sincerity”, feeling as though you never meant anything to the other, is not something that we can control and makes us slightly hysterical. It is hard to believe that the one who just broke your heart honestly meant it when they said, “I love you,” and now they cannot even say hello to you. friendsandlovers

All articles I perused suggest giving any attempt at friendship the benefit of time. One article suggested no less than a month should pass before exes see each other as friends. I would think more time than that to let the feelings of resentment, regret, anger, love and familiarity dissipate. Familiarity is the most difficult one to completely dissolve, I imagine, as each meeting with the ex will bring up habits, sayings, tics and patterns both recognize and perhaps once found endearing or annoying. Those don’t go away just because the love does. And does the love go away completely? The comfort of knowing someone is available emotionally and physically–or so you thought–to hear your woes and worries, joys and successes, is a powerful bond hard to completely break. We need connection more than anything else from others.

All advisors agree that time is necessary to let feelings fade, mutual breakup is more likely to lead to a more successful attempt at friendship and confirmed open expectations or ground rules must be articulated and adhered to for any promise of friendship. When one has hope for rekindling the fire or the other coming around while that other is already moving on, there will be no friendship, just an extension of what was and worse–an extended breakup. Also, if the same habits and patterns in the relationship exist, for example, the confidential confessions, continual flirting, sex discussions, the friendship will not work, too confusing.

All agree too that the new mate poses problems of jealousy and the true test of friendship: Can you talk to your friend about your new excitement or disappointments or great sex with someone else without jealousy arousal or memories evoked of being naked with your ex? Unlikely, which brings back an earlier point of mutuality of intentions. If you don’t really intend on being friends but are just hanging on or hoping, then the best you can ever hope for eventually is a mere acquaintance. A good friend wants you to be happy and offers support with genuine motivations of giving, not self-interest. If it’s too painful to hear others taking your place or imagining yourself as the stepping stone to someone else’s growth, move on, forget about friendship and better luck next time.

With some, it will take more time than others to develop a friendship. It took ten years to eliminate all traces of emotion infused with memory for one of my exes, but now we are old time-tested friends. Though it rarely occurs, I could drink a beer with him any day and have a laugh without getting caught up in a web of what if’s and when we were’s. But when we have, the reference to some fun time is almost always with a warm wink and a twinkle in the eye–for both of us.

With others, the possibility ended with the ending of the relationship–the good riddance kinds. Some relationships you just know are toxic but are too stubborn or stupid to give up on them in time. They get frothy filthy lowdown with cheats and insults. By the time they peak in brutality sufficient to kill a nation let alone a relationship, one or both are craving the bullet, so that moving on has already occurred. These will never be friendships despite the cold, cold corpse of the relationship. There were too many hard feelings in the first place. Even in time, those will have you questioning what sort of atonement you thought you had to pay to suffer yourself such pain and humiliation.

And with others, regardless of the mutuality of intellectual knowing that “this is the best for both of us,” there will always be a lingering–the one that got away kind. That is the one friend you would love to have because friendship was such a strong basis of the relationship in the first place, but that friendship sat smack dab in the middle of great love making, lots of laughs, a little bit of chemistry and just the right amount of romance. The breakup may have been crushing or calm, but just how close you got to the right thing at the wrong time, or so you thought, is what will linger and prevent the curiosity of what could have been or should have been done. Even when the smell of him or her is long gone, you can still evoke at least the idea of having once had that scent drive you mad with desire, though the pulse of it is now missing.

You know what friendship is and you know what love is by the feel, smell, taste, sound and look of it. The gut knows the difference, but if your stomach doesn’t let you in on the secret, then lose your mind that leads you astray–in meditation. Don’t think long and hard about it, but simply be with it–your true desires and motivations–before you make any agreements to “just be friends” at the breakup, something tossed out by and for the benefit of the breaker, to make him or her feel better by making the breakee feel less abandoned.

It’s always best to clarify what you want before entering relationships, which is not easy and takes time and devotion. But in the end, that knowledge makes you less susceptible to capitulating to another’s needs in neglect of your own, one thing that was probably wrong with the relationship in the first place.

Should ex lovers be friends? Weigh in. Who has had the experience of trying?

References:

Can You Ever Be Friends with Your Ex? askmen.com

Sorry but this is why you can’t be friends with your ex psychologytoday.com

Can You Be Friends With Your Ex? bodyandsoul.com

5 Things to Know About Befriending Your Ex
huffingtonpost.com

Should You Really “Stay Friends” After the Relationship is Over? eharmony.com

Friends or Lovers friendsandlovers.com

Flash of Exasperation

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/e19/64332962/files/2015/01/img_0314.jpg

“Do you want me to stop by after work?” he asks with earnest caret-shaped eyebrows.
“No, I’m not going to be home,” she says distractedly looking for her keys in her purse and not at him.
“Oh? You’re going out?”
“I have some running around to do, errands,” she replies now looking at him but still half attentive.
“Do you want some company doing errands?” he asks, still earnest.
“No. I have too many to do and…it’s just best if I do them alone,” she assures though with her head again buried in her purse.
“Are we okay?” his earnestness now morphed into deep concern, brows furrowed.
Exasperated, she turns to him now and complains, “Ugh, yes we’re fine. Why do you have to ask that all the time? You sound so insecure and…I’m sorry,” she apologizes in defeat. “That’s not where I wanted this to go. We can get together when I’m finished,” she concedes.
“Do you know what time you’ll be finished?” he asks with renewed courage by her concession.
“No, it depends on how long the line is at AT&T and when I get to the market,” she replies with a hint of dullness back in her voice again.
“Well, do you know approximately what time? afternoon? evening? night?” he persists.
“NO! I don’t!” she barks at him. “Listen, you are going to have to be flexible here if you want to get together. I will text when I am done. If you’re free, we’ll get together. If something comes up for you and you’re no longer free, then we will get together some other time,” she rattles off as she exhales slowly.
“Okay, but I really don’t want to do anything else. I’d rather see you,” he confesses resignedly.
“Well, then you’re going to have to wait for my text,” she reminds him rather shortly.
“I don’t get why you won’t tell me when you think you’ll be done, I mean just approximately.”
“Not I won’t. I can’t!” she counters with heat rising in her face and tightness forming in her lips.
“Well, what exactly do you have to do?” he tries her with careful curiosity.
Sighing deeply, “Oh really now. Do I have to go through my to do list?” Exasperated, “Okay, I have to go to AT&T to exchange my phone; it doesn’t charge. Then I have to pick up a turkey I ordered at the market before it closes. Then I have to bring Mark to and from soccer practice. I have to make dinner. It’s already 2:00, so this discussion is just eating up valuable time. Why don’t I just go do what I have to do?” she glares at him with growing impatience.
“Okay, so you don’t have any idea how long all of that will take, huh?”
“For Crissakes, no!!!” she shouts, slamming her keys in a loud crash on to the floor.
“Wow, you’re so angry. Are you sure we’re okay?”
(Door slam).