Should You Remain Friends With Your Ex?
A recent question from a reader asked if it was possible to remain friends with your ex.
“Hi Jonathon, I’ve been dying to get your opinion about something, and was hoping you’d post something about it. The guy I’ve recently been dating is friends with A LOT (a dozen or so) of his exes. I’m not talking about FB friends, or texting hello once in a blue moon. I mean that he speaks on the phone with at least one of them every day, goes to lunch with them, or goes to their houses to help them with their computers. I tried not to be the jealous girlfriend, and I certainly am aware that we all have a past and exes. However, I found myself uncomfortable or grumpy when he mentions a recent conversation/outing with one of them. I’ve asked a couple of guy friends and have gotten mixed reviews. What do you think? I really appreciate your posts and your point of view on the subject of dating.”
There are some situations where you should try to have a friendship (or at a least civil relationship) with your ex. If there was a long term relationship and especially if there are children involved, it may be necessary to maintain at least a polite friendship. As far as it depends on you, maintain civility and speak positively about your ex. Don’t stir up additional animosity. Work out conflicts as best you can. It will be an important life lesson for your children to see their parents respect each other even if they’re divorced.
Another possible scenario is if you have an ongoing business relationship. Of course you will need to remain on speaking terms as you define the new parameters of your relationship.
It will be important to establish boundaries and what you are expecting out of the friendship on this new set of terms. You need some time and space to adjust to this new relationship status and create some new lifestyle habits so that you don’t run back to your former partner in a moment of weakness.
If you’re in a new relationship, you’ll need to consider their feelings. You want to establish it on a good foundation of mutuality and trust. A scenario like the one posed above by my reader would be problematic for many men and women. It’s best to cut way back on the daily or weekly phone calls and visits. It will be very important to be fully transparent about the time you spend with your ex.
It goes without saying that if you are coming out of an abusive situation, it’s best to completely cut ties with your ex. You need time to heal and find your way in life. If there are children involved, as I mentioned above, maintain civility but set your boundaries and keep your emotional distance.
My response to this reader is that while he’s at least being transparent with her, I have to wonder how he has the time to both have a girlfriend and maintain friendships with all these women. She should talk to him and share her feelings and concerns. If the relationship matters to him, then he’ll listen responsively and reconsider the amount of time that he’s spending with women from his past.
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