So here’s the thing: I want to be friends with my ex-boyfriend.
I might be naive, and maybe it won’t work out, but I still want to do it. We dated for a really long time in high school (all four years), then went our separate ways for college. Then in college we did the whole hooking up thing for a bit, and now he has a new girlfriend and we are home for the summer. He says he wants to hang out.
Here’s my chance.
How do I do it? How can we really be just friends? I am not in love with him anymore, but he was my best friend for so long. Is there any hope of being real, genuine, friends?
— The Friendly Ex
Dear The Friendly Ex,
Relationships shape shift like Proteus. Who hasn’t had a friendship that turned into a FWB that turned into a relationship that broke your heart, then three years later ended up being friends again…then repeated the cycle? The point is, a relationship grows and evolves the same as individuals do. So of course you can have a real friendship with an ex. The issue with relationships is that they consist of more than one person. Generally there’re two…sometimes more but usually that requires having Tiger Blood!
Before you call him for a catch up coffee, take a pause. While it makes all the sense in the world to want to have a platonic relationship with someone who you’ve trusted, who has been a major part of your life, and who you will probably always care for, you’ve got to ask yourself one simple question: Why?
If there’s even a hint of lingering lust then this is a dangerous course of action for both of you. If loneliness has little to nothing to do with your motivation then you’ve got a better shot of forging a real connection.
When we get the urge to reconnect with an ex we often are doing so because we remember the good times and are skimming over the not so good. There were reasons you meant a lot to each other and there were reasons that you broke apart. Take stock of both the yin and the yang before you Facebook message him.
There are a few ways of offering a yellow rose:
Make your first meet in a public place with little, to no significance of your past relationship. Nostalgia stirs up ghosts of f*cks past.
No secret rendezvous
Ask to meet the girlfriend. Keeping your meets a secret or telling him you’ve no interest in getting to know the person he’s committed to, well, there are only so many interpretations to be made. None of them would do you any good.
Be open about why you want to meet up. Tell him you miss him AS A FRIEND and you want to be there for him AS A FRIEND. Set the boundaries.
…It’s a virtue
Be patient. You try to be his best friend right away and you come off as clingy, which few people want in their partners OR friends.
Unfortunately, he’s got a voice in all of this
He has the right to say, “thank you but no thank you.” (Something we’ve talked about before.) If you meet up and he decides he still has issues undealt with, then leave him be. You can say you tried. You probably will be able to try again somewhere else down the path.
Your relationship with him has gone from gas to water to ice. Each phase has its own properties. You just have to stick to them and make sure that the temperature doesn’t run too hot or too cold.
I’ll be the Paris to your Nicole,
The Friendship Dude
[Isn’t he amazeballs? Sigh, we know. Too bad he’s taken. Check out The Dude’s other insights into the male mind right here.]