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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Friends with a Recent Ex?

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Author Topic: Friends with a Recent Ex?
katiebird
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My boyfriend and I just broke up this past weekend after 14 months. This is my fourth relationship and to me one I have loved the most because we truly were best friends first. Before the 14 months, we were friends for about a year. The relationship ended because we knew that it we would not have worked in the long-run for religious reasons (but also just him feeling he couldn't see being with me in the long-term/marriage) and we felt it was best to end it before getting too emotionally attached. To be honest, it was more his decision than mine, though I recognize the validity of the reason, I still wish I could be with him a bit longer. Right now we are still closeby and still in love and happy, and so for me, we could have at least waited for me to move away or get my first job after college and recognize that then it was truly an appropriate time. But right now I'm still in school and we could have another 8 months together before I move to another part of my life.

Conclusively, now, he is asking that we can remain friends throughout this breakup. He reasons that since we had such a strong friendship, he doesn't want to lose that (because I feel I might take a long time to get over him and by that time I also might just be over him as a person and not feel like being friends). He also feels if we are already going through a breakup keeping contact with each other could ease that. Now in my experience keeping any contact can lead to hurt feelings (one person gets over the other faster, you keep wanting to be with the person, etc.) but those relationships were never primarily grounded in friendship which I believe this one is. In some ways cutting off contact until I'm over him seems like what I should do, but then the flip side is I might lose him as a friend that way. And I do want to keep him as a friend, truly. Thoughts??

[ 10-29-2012, 01:18 AM: Message edited by: katiebird ]

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treetops
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Hi katiebird,

Personally, I'd agree with you that it's usually a pretty good idea to have some time apart after a breakup. The times when I've tried to be friends with an ex straight after a breakup have all ended badly, because there were sometimes romantic feelings still on one or both sides, or sometimes just the transition from a romantic relationship to a friendship was really hard when there was no time apart to adjust to it.

I reckon now that in the long run, the best way to remain friends with an ex is (usually) to not really see or speak to them for a bit after the breakup - it's not like you can't go back to being friends after you've both had some time to adjust. As you say, your relationship was based on friendship, and I'm sure a strong friendship like that would cope with a few months of time apart. And if, after you've taken some time apart, you find that you don't feel you want to be friends with him, then that's OK too.

Good luck [Smile]

[ 10-29-2012, 06:03 AM: Message edited by: treetops ]

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BroadwayBaby12
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My first ex-bf and I are best friends. We weren't friends before we started dating, in fact we only knew each other for 3 days before we started dating. When we broke up we never really took any time apart to get over each other we just transitioned right into a friendship. Personally for us things have been awesome, its been 3 years since then and we have a totally open and trusting relationship.

It's very possible to transition right into a friendship. If you want it, you can make it work. I would definitely talk to him about how your feeling and I see nothing wrong with keeping contact and talking every now and again. I can see how cutting off communication completely can be confusing and upsetting. Like I said earlier if you want it, you can make it work.

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katiebird
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But don't you feel if you stay friends you also stay attached to that person? And you're reminded of your feelings, or reminded that it didn't work out even though you want them romantically more than a friend? That's my concern that it would make me feel worse to keep contact because I would keep thinking about him in that way since we've been dating for a year and 3 months.
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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey Katie! I think that depends on different people, if it was the sort of relationship, and they're the kind of person that makes those feelings too much, I guess they'd avoid that situation.

When I've made friends with an ex, or someone I've been sexual with, then I remember that at first those feelings were there and strong, but I thought it was worth it because I did want them in my life, and it felt worth the risk. It's a bit like starting a new relationship, just a friendship rather than a sexual/romantic relationship. So just like that, there is an element of risk.

For me though, I guess that new friendship built up over time, and now we relate to each other in a different way, and I'm now happy for the friendship we are having and what that means, just like I appreciate other friendships. The past romantic parts feel a bit more like a happy memory than a thing I was over-concerned with repeating right away.

The other thing I get from that, is a lot of comfort from now knowing that my relationships CAN end in friendship. It makes any new relationships I start feel a lot less scary, so not only am I happy about my new friendships, I'm happy about what those particular friendships say about me.

But it really wasn't possible for other relationships I was in that ended. I guess it just varies!

[ 11-19-2012, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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katiebird
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Well as you said, it wasn't possible for other relationships: were there certain qualities that made it not possible? How would I know if it's possible to pursue a friendship? Should I just try it out and see how I feel?

My fear is that my feelings for him will continued to be dragged out and I won't actually "get over him" if I do a friendship. But my other fear is if I abstain from contact for a long time to get over him, I won't go back to being friends because I'll be kind of done with him as a person overall. That's my experience in the past...we won't talk at all and then I'll be "over" them as a person as well and not be interested in pursuing a friendship.

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Heather
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You know, with these things, I think our gut instincts are wise to follow.

If you feel like pursuing a friendship anytime soon won't allow you the space and resolution you need first, then I say give yourself that space and time first. And by all means, I think it's safe to say that trying to shift from a romance to friendship THIS fast -- RIGHT after a breakup -- is usually too soon for most people most of the time. Especially younger people.

I think something else to bear in mind is that often when one person facilitates a breakup, they have already done all or most of their own processing around it BEFORE they have broken up. So, that person CAN feel a lot more ready to be friends, for example, spacing out that the other person often hasn't done ANY of their own processing yet.

I hear you saying consistently that you, understandably, need some space and time for yourself to grieve the loss of the romantic relationship (and that's really not something it's sound for him to help you with initially), and to figure out if you want to remain friends.

If that's what you want to do but your only reservation is that you'll just kind of fade away even if you want to be friends later, perhaps you can suggest you two have a coffee or a dinner, say, two months from now to touch base, where you can then have a better idea of how you're feeling?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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katiebird
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The other type of relationship we have talked about is getting back together to enjoy dating and each other but with the knowledge that we will breakup at the end of the summer (because I'll be moving away). Like there's not really "problems" in the relationship and we care about each other and enjoy dating but recognize we would not work out in the long-term/marriage. I don't know how I feel about that either..I want to be with him but my friends have expressed i shouldn't be in a relationship that I know already has an end-point while other friends have said if I can be okay with that kind of relationship it could be possible. I'm not really sure how I feel and I feel like I can't predict how I feel unless I actually tried it out. Parts of me think we could get back together just to enjoy the rest of our time together but other parts of me wonder if I would get attached and i would end up being even more hurt later on.
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Heather
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The fact that you keep making clear that you don't know how you feel is a pretty strong cue that you need time to figure it out for yourself, don't you think?

Do you feel like you have to make decisions about either of these things -- being friends or trying to date more casually after he broke up with you -- now? or quickly? Are you not able, for some reason, to take at least a couple weeks to just process the breakup and your feelings before even thinking about either of these things?

I assume it's him putting these options on the table, btw? If so, despite breaking up with you, is he not actually giving you any space? Like by calling you or otherwise putting these choices on the table now?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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katiebird
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Oh I feel I have time to think about it I just needed some insights or opinions for other as I consider. And we are mutually speaking to each other and we both kind of proposed or discussed these kinds of options. He recognizes that if I need space he will give it to me, but at the moment I'm not taking space because we've been talking because I'm trying to figure out what to do or how I feel.
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Heather
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My best advice?

Take a week, minimum, without talking to him. Get some real space. Talk to friends when you need support and want to try and hash your feelings about this out. Don't even go to the "what nexts" yet. It just seems way, way too soon for that to me.

I just think trying to figure this out when it sounds like, in a lot of ways, nothing has even changed -- he broke up with you, but you're still talking, maybe even just as much, he's still putting dating on the table, he's still asking about some kind of ongoing relationship with you -- and you haven't even been able to really feel any changes, and just sit, by yourself, with the breakup, is going to be VERY difficult to do well.

Also? He's probably about the worst person to talk to right now to figure out how you feel about the breakup and feel about him, moving forward. A much better bet would be someone you can talk to about this who isn't part of the relationship.

So, were it me? I'd be insisting on some real space, ASAP.

[ 11-19-2012, 07:11 PM: Message edited by: Heather ]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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