I know! This is a highly loaded question. Mainly because I feel as if people have very strong feelings about the topic. And as well they should. Full disclosure- this is also a hot button topic between my fiancee and I. In truth, there should be no reason to be friends with an ex. For whatever reason, the relationship has failed/ended. So why keep a friendship after dating has ran its course?
So let’s look at this from both sides. I’m the kind of person that when we are done, we are sooooo DONE! I’ve deleted your contact, photos, songs that remind me of you. That’s it. For some people, that is the only way to heal and move on. But there are a few cases where before a relationship developed, there was a friendship. And no, I don’t mean a FWB kind of thing. I mean a “call me when you need a ride home from a creepy date.” or a “my family member died.” kind of friendship. I can think of two such men who fit this description.
Yes, there may have been a romantic past, but it doesn’t change the fact that we have genuinely been there for each other, years after said relationship was over. I mean, if it can happen in TV sitcoms, why can’t it work in real life?
On the flip side, I also understand that things change when sex is involved. And more importantly once you have had an intimate connection what is to say it won’t come back again. My fiance’s argument goes back to the “Can you be friends with the opposite sex?”. Meaning, it is hard for a man to be friends with a woman and not have some desire to be with her. As he put it, if given the opportunity, men would cross the line of friendship to gain something more. I would also like to argue that the same could be done vice versa. I have had male friends that once they became single, I made a move on. But we both wanted to keep the friendship rather than lose it.
So who wins the argument? Can you really be friends with your ex? I say it boils down to a few factors. First, communicating with your partner about the nature of your relationship/friendship. I can’t say in a perfect world that your man and your ex will watch football together, but your man does need to know that the friendship is not a threat.
Next, is time. For me, my two male friends are people I have known for over 20 years and the time we were together was almost 20 years ago. If there is a good amount of time between when you were dating, compared to your current relationship, this may make having the friendship a bit more palatable. And finally, the importance of the friendship vs the relationship. If it is a true friend, he or she may understand that out of respect to your partner, your friendship may need to take a back seat. It may help to avoid temptation, but it may also help in showing your partner your priority.
In the end, having the difficult conversation about your ex’s role in your life, is the best way to start. By all means, don’t bully your partner in seeing your point. But rather with any argument, step back and listen to their concerns. At the end of the day, choose love, over everything else!