Friends With Exes: Good Idea or No?

By Cheryl Lavin

June 25, 2017 4 min read

Can you be friends with an ex? Should you be friends with your ex?

Here's what you had to say.

NAT: One of my best friends is my second wife, Cyndy. We've been apart for 25 years. She has lived all over the country since we divorced. I've seen her about once a year since then. Either I visit her or we get together when she's in town seeing family. We've become very close. We talk, laugh and cry over the things that have happened in our lives. And it's strictly platonic!

When my only daughter (from another relationship) passed away, Cyndy dropped everything and traveled three states to be by my side. Knowing her has taught me that you can love a woman without sex.

TRACEY: I am friends with many men I've slept with. I've seen some through several marriages and divorces. I know and like the wives and families of others. And I don't permit them to muddy up their present situations with memories of our past relationships (like boasting to their spouses that I looked like a James Bond girl, which I never did).

There are an infinite number of reasons to have sex with somebody. But our romantic culture assigns the word "lover" to anything from a single canoodle after a few drinks to a 20-year cohabitation, persuading the participants that every hug and tug must be invested with emotional significance, often beyond the facts of the matter.

Sure, you can reflect nostalgically on your experiences — some of our greatest literature is based in such inventory — but don't make it out to be more than it was.

There's a line from a Leonard Cohen song "Sisters of Mercy" that goes, "We weren't lovers like that, and besides, it would still be all right."

Cohen said it was a love song to a couple of girls he spent a night with and then never saw again. There was no commitment on anyone's part. That's why the song ends: "And you won't make me jealous if I hear that they sweetened your/ night/ We weren't lovers like that, and besides, it would still be all right."

When two people are "lovers like that," I think it's a different story. I still think that in general keeping exes in your life can lead to trouble. And, if your exes are comparing you to a Bond girl, you are definitely muddying up their present relationships.

VIOLET: Jason and I have known each other for six years. We've dated and broken up multiple times. Through it all, we've remained close friends. We don't hang out as often as we did, but I go to him when I need guy advice, and we talk semi-frequently. The feelings are gone, but we love each other as friends.

My ex-husband had a huge problem with the friendship, so we kept our distance. We would catch up through emails but never saw each other. My current boyfriend is not pleased either. I was upfront about Jason, but it still bothers him. Jason and I have said many times if our significant others don't like our relationship, too bad for them.

You can be friends with an ex, but boundaries are important, and you current partner and your ex should meet. Exes are exes for a reason, but it doesn't mean that they can't make great friends.

Is marriage harder than you expected? Send your tale, along with your questions and problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."

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