We’ve all heard the line, “you can’t be friends with your ex” or shouldn’t be. Many of us have been in relationships with people who have had an issue with us being friends with our ex or ex’s; even on something as dumb as Facebook. We all know that usually it’s because of trust issues that existed far before they were in our lives that they never got help with. I’ve been down that dumb road. Yes, there are lines which can’t and should not be crossed when a relationship is long over. Yes, you should keep It respectful and appropriate. I never understood the issue though with being friends with ex’s; not for a long time at least. Sure at points in time, I lacked the ability but the moral dilemma was never an issue and I’ll get to that.
I am engaged to an amazing woman, we’re getting married this fall and I am looking forward to a long life with her and our son. I have ex’s that are friends and I can’t remember one time where this was or has been a real issue for Stacey. She also is friends with some of her ex’s and I don’t have an issue with that either. My manhood doesn’t feel threatened by them. Do I hang out with these exes’ of mine some of whom are happily married or in relationships? No, not really or at least not very often but I wouldn’t be against it and I don’t really think Stacey would either and in fact, I think she might really get along with at least two or three of them. Over the years, they ( my exes) have migrated to various parts of the country and we keep in touch via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram like just about everyone else these days. Stacey trusts me and what’s more the lines that are drawn between my ex’s and me have been there for some time long before there was a Stacey and I. We are adults after all. I’m not going to put myself in an awkward situation let alone risk what I have and neither would they. We are all quite happy with where we are in life now that we are in our mid to late 30’s.
Maybe it’s harder for some people in their early to mid-twenties to be friends with exes without being childish. Maybe though it’s not an age thing at all since I’ve seen it happen with people older than me. I know in high school I couldn’t be friends with my ex’s but I will also admit I didn’t try very damn hard. Now at 37 it’s almost natural. At 37 why should I have any animosity towards my former girlfriends from high school for whatever adolescent issue I made myself believe at the time. At 37 why should I have any issue with my ex’s I dated in my twenties for whatever overly emotional post-adolescent issues I conjured up or dramatized. There are only two exes’ who I don’t talk to, am not friendly with and have no desire to even try to be friends and just about everyone knows who they are.
It’s an interesting thing growing old, becoming an adult and secure with who you are. Like I said, two decades ago, I couldn’t be friends with my ex’s; hell even a decade. It’s amazing what happens when you mature and get your head out of your ass. Most of my exes are not the heartbreaking wenches I thought they were for years. They are wives and moms or at least have dogs. They are not the people they were when I dated them. Conversely, I am not the person now that I was when they dated me. That is the important distinction to understand.
Let the past be the past.
Now, I am sure this whole being friend’s with exes thing isn’t possible for everyone but it isn’t impossible either. It’s a question of value really. Do they and do you bring value to the table in terms of pure unromantic friendship despite having dated in another life?
Kids today break up with someone and the next day are practically best friends with them. The “cooling off” period that myself and many others I know had to go through after a breakup is in some ways a passé’ thing. If those of us in our thirties or older are able to get past the ghosts, childish bitterness and awkwardness for the sake of having an actual viable and real adult friendship; isn’t that the more important thing? Especially in this world of artificial social media “friendships” where we know little about someone who we haven’t known for years and in person. Studies have shown and with few exceptions that who we are on social media is the “best” and perhaps fakest version of ourselves with regards to total or near strangers. They know version 3.0 not version 1.0 BETA, 1.0, 2.0 and 2.5 or what happened in-between that made us who we are now.
So, those exes’ who at one point we couldn’t see without having a nervous breakdown sometimes eventually become some of our closest friends and allies. And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with being friends with someone who you knew and knew you on a personal level maybe even years before you actually dated. They are the ones who will tell you when you are full of shit and know what they are talking about. The people you “friended” on Facebook or followed on Twitter because you met them in a bar once, had a college class with them or have one mutual friend with are not friends and are barely acquaintances but yet many cling to that idea of friendship.
So yeah I’m friends with some of my ex’s. We talk about our kids and parenting stuff. We talk about family vacations, trade recipes, and little league. I ask them for parenting and life advice and they ask me for advice. They share pictures of their dogs because I miss mine. We talk about grown up stuff. I even worked with an ex for about 2 years a few years back and it wasn’t an issue. One my exes is even my current book editor.
The point is, is that all these relationships from the past happened so long ago that we hardly notice now. The fact we dated and what happened almost never comes up. We moved on in life in our various ways. We became legitimate friends or friends again and are quite content with that. So, if other people have issues with that then it’s really their problem and their head issue isn’t it.
Real friends, good friends are few and far in-between in this world so why limit that because at one point, years ago, you might have been briefly romantically involved with someone. You’re not now, and if you don’t want to be then what’s the problem.