To remain friends or not with my ex-lover… the question has spun in my head relentlessly.

Now I’m letting it be. We’re friends, but I’m no longer chasing.

Any relationship I’m in now requires giving on both ends, not primarily on mine.

It’s taken me a long time to realize he withholds emotionally, to my detriment. So why would I continue to give more, when I have no clue what he’s thinking or feeling?

But then I turn the tables. Picture him as the one back with his ex-wife. I’d probably say fuck off, you made your choice; but the truth of it is, he could have had me if he would have stepped up and wanted me, then we wouldn’t be in this situation.

He’s said I wouldn’t give him the time of day if he were the one back with his ex. I don’t think that’s true. I think I’d want to be friends. But maybe not, since he’s terrible at communicating things back and forth on a heartfelt level, whether we’re lovers or friends. He hasn’t been willing to meet me half way, even in friendship, by asking me what I think a healthy friendship between us looks like. He hasn’t been willing to change anything about himself at all. It’s friendship on his terms. So, I’ve accepted that and released the situation. Friends from a distance.

Overall, my experience has been painful in trying to keep a friendship with my ex-lover. And as I said before, I think a lot of that is due to his unwillingness to change a few things with our communication that would make a real difference for me. But it’s not important enough to him, seems to me.

When one person is always doing the work to communicate on a heart to heart level, it’s excruciately painful to always be that person.

So, I’ve learned to gradually let go and accept what is. And if he wants more of a friendship, he needs to speak up. But the fact he doesn’t, tells me he’s perfectly fine with where our friendship is.

For today, the question is about whether or not we stay friends with our former lovers, and if so, how?

This article starts by telling us it’s a polarizing question, whether we should remain friends with our ex lovers. 

And then it goes on to say, “Rachel Sussman, a New York City-based psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible, advises caution when it comes to staying friends, but says there are couples for whom it works; ultimately, she says, it’s “an individual determination.” Nonetheless, Sussman says there are some guidelines all exes should follow after a breakup.

1. When to Cut Ties With an Ex

To summarize the article, toxic relationships are out the window. I think I need to clarify “toxic” because I’ve felt plenty of that in our differing communication styles… but is it enough to warrant not staying friends? Time will tell.

The article tells us, One 2000 study… found that friendships between exes were more likely to have negative qualities, and less likely to have positive ones, than cross-sex platonic friendships.”

The article continues to say possible downsides are the relationship could potentially hold you back from future relationships, or it could remain in a cycle of on-again, off-again.

Interestingly, the article tells us, One study, published in 2013 in PLOS One, found that “breakup distress may act as a catalyst for personal growth,” while avoiding that distress may inhibit the development process.

2. When to Stay Friends With an Ex

Of course exes who have kids together benefit from remaining friends, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. And, “The lines are murkier for couples without children, but Rachel Sussman, a New York City-based psychotherapist and author of The Breakup Bible, says those who dated when they were young, were friends first, dated casually or were together only for a short time are good candidates for friendship.”

The article tells us of a woman who went back to exes and mended fences, and her husband is okay with it because he isn’t jealous and she’s open about those friendships.

I tend to believe along those same lines, that people who come into our lives played a special part in it, and there’s no reason you can’t remain friends. However, the article tells us it ends badly if a desire for reconciliation is in the mix. It’s only when it’s platonic and for sentimental reasons that a friendship works.

3. How to Stay Friendly With an Ex

Taking a break, time apart, including social media is recommended by Sussman. And boundaries need to be set, whether that’s a dinner once a month or phone call, etc. Each friendship is different.

The article tells us, “Above all, regularly reassess how the friendship makes you feel, and be honest with yourself. More times than not, [someone who stays friends with an ex] is kind of clinging to something,” Sussman says. “It’s more of a security blanket.”

It can be confusing, deciphering if we’re in a relationship for security reasons (not having to step out of our comfort zone) or if it’s because we feel safe with our needs being met. I believe there’s a difference. If it’s the first then it’s probably best to let the friendship go.

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