Social Question

nir17's avatar

Is it normal to be friends with an ex?

Asked by nir17 (371points) February 5th, 2011

I am really good friends, to this day, with the first guy that I dated (and broke up with) for two years. A few months ago, I went through a messy breakup from an almost two year long relationship. Things were infinitely more complicated and messy. Now, five months later, we’re both seeing other people, yet he is insistent that we try to be friends. It worked the first time, but I just don’t think it will work again. Come to think of it, I don’t know many people at all who are good friends with their ex-partners.

He wants to have dinner next week when he is in town, and I just don’t think that is a good idea. We both still have mixed feelings, but are in new relationships. (Yes, it probably was a bad idea for both of us to move on to new people before getting over the last…) Regardless, it is what it is. He says he wants to salvage some sort of good from a bad ending. I think it’s best to cut ties and move on. I only see bad things, and hurt feelings, and mixed emotions coming from an ongoing ‘friendship’ riddled with jealousy, passive aggression and hurt. Any similar experiences?

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18 Answers

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Only you know for sure, deep down, whether or not you believe you really can be just friends. Sounds to me like you are already skeptical, and I think that speaks volumes about what you need to do in this situation.

BBSDTfamily's avatar

Personally, I don’t see any point in having dinner with him if you’ve both moved on to new relationships. You don’t have to do dinner to remain friends. Just have a phone conversation stating that you both still care for and respect the other, and keep moving on with your lives. What would it solve? Could it hurt your current relationships? I just don’t see what good will come of it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I wouldn’t say it’s normal in the sense of being ordinary, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with being friends with an ex. I am friends with one of mine, and I might have stayed friends with another if we hadn’t broken up mainly due to the fact that we never saw one another (meaning we didn’t even have enough time to sustain a friendship, let alone a relationship).

zenvelo's avatar

If you’re still working through the break up (you said you both have mixed feelings) then all a dinner will do is mess with your head at best. I don’t see any benefit to you by meeting him, but a lot of potential poor outcomes.

Follow your heart and your intuition, tell him no.

Kardamom's avatar

It’s not that it’s not normal, it’s just not helpful under the circumstances. You’ve already moved on to a (hopefully) better relationship with someone else. Don’t go backward. If you dredge up the past, you are likely to get sucked back in, and it will likely end the same way or worse (in that you will lose your current relationship). Just tell the ex that you gave it your best shot and you’re trying to make a new life for yourself and that he should do the same.

Nullo's avatar

Beats the alternative.

Jeremycw1's avatar

I’m friends with my ex… but we also only dated for a month. so it wasn’t anything big.

BarnacleBill's avatar

At this point in time, the fact that you take his phone calls is probably as far as “friends” need to go. Sounds like there’s some residual regret there, and there’s no point at picking at a scab that’s not completely healed, even though you’ve both moved on. It’s a disservice to the people you’re currently seeing.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
augustlan's avatar

I’m all for being friends with exes, but not in your situation. That “mixed feelings” thing is the killer, for me. Both people need to be fully over it before a friendship is a good idea. Of course, sometimes that doesn’t work, either, but the chances are much better.

Seelix's avatar

I’ve tried to do the friends-with-an-ex thing, but it just doesn’t work for me, particularly for the reasons you mentioned in your question. Mixed feelings, jealousy and pain don’t always go away. Some people are able to get over that and focus only on the good things the couple shared, but I’m not. Even to this day when I see my ex, those feelings come rushing back, and we’ve not been together for close to 10 years.

In your situation, I’d politely decline the invitation. He might be hurt, but he should also be able to understand your feelings. This kind of meeting won’t do anything good for either of your new relationships.

Wish you the best!

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

It is possible to be friends but why would you want to see someone again so soon after a breakup?
I am good friends with an ex boyfriend and we broke up over a decade ago.We didn’t call each other right away after we broke up.XD
Maybe you do need to take time to figure out if he is even worth having as a friend.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Sure, you can be, but both of you have to be over it completely. It probably helps to have been friends with your ex before you dated.

laureth's avatar

I think we’re talking about two different things here, which are easily confused because they’re both called “being friends.”

First one, there are long-term friends we have through our lives. These are the people that are there for you, to listen and talk to, that catch you when you fall, that you can rely on to be there, and with whom you have made important social and emotional connections. Some of these, for me at least, are ex-boyfriends. I mean, after all, we started out together because there was a lot in common there, we had a long bonding experience, and after all the fireworks and explosions of the breakup were over, we still connected as human beings, even if it took a few years (or decade) of not speaking. Some of these ex-boyfriends even came to my wedding. They are my true friends.

However, it’s easy to confuse that with “Justbe” friends. These are sometimes relationships that have just broken and haven’t had a chance to cool, and where emotions and hurt are still running high. It’s tempting to be Justbe-friends with guys like that because you hope they’ll “see the light” and get back with you, or perhaps have ex-sex, but this is a recipe (usually) for disaster and hurt feelings. This is still a relationship (albeit a broken one), not really a friendship yet, even if people call it that because there’s not really a word for this in English.

Here’s a good way to tell the difference: how would you feel if this man told you he’d found the light and love of his life, and that he was going to marry her? Does it cause a stab of jealousy or hurt in you? Then you are not quite friends yet. Does it, however, make you happy for him, delighted to meet the lucky woman, and would you go celebrate their wedding with them and be genuinely happy to be there? Be honest. If you can say yes to this, he is probably a true friend.

It’s not impossible to turn a Justbe-friend into a true friend, but it takes time. Sometimes it takes years. It’s not something that can be forced, and it works on its own schedule. But it does happen. You say, ” I don’t know many people at all who are good friends with their ex-partners.” How old are you? I ask, because it often takes years for this to happen, and if you are young (say, college age, or under 25–30), there might not have been enough time for this to naturally happen.

If there’s any doubt about this guy, I’d say to just chill out for a while. Let some time go by. There has to be a certain amount of letting-go for it to work, if you really do end up as friends someday. I know it sounds like a long time now, but just live your lives for a while, and if you two become friends later in life, then you will. And if you won’t, you won’t. It’s sort of a zen thing. :)

blueiiznh's avatar

There is a reason that they are an ex.

It is easy to remember the good times and forget the difficuly times.

If you have children together, then it is in your best interest to be amicable for the childrens regard.

Otherwise, I see no real interest to stay friends. It can be extreemly difficult on future relationships, so why keep them around in any way?

Again, there is a reason they are an EX.

john65pennington's avatar

He still has a lot of feeling for you and you are not so sure about him. how do i know this? its evident in your question and explaining it. no one can truly answer this question, but you.

Flip a coin and abide by the results. its as good as anything else.

tedd's avatar

sooooooooooooooooooooo many more details to this story… But I suppose it doesn’t matter.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Most people I’ve met over 40yrs have told me it’s not normal to be friends with exes. Me, my ex husband is still my best friend and I’m amicable with all but one ex liven-in partner.

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