Can exlovers be friends?

I spent most of the day yesterday emailing back and forth with C. For those new to this blog, who don’t know the C story you could go to the archives, there seems to be a lot there. But if you want to bypass that, I can sum it up for you: C and I met back in 1998, he was my roommate for a year and a half, while we were both in the masters program and we had been friends ever since. There had been flirting but nothing more until I moved back to NYC in 2005, when we started this long distance-chatting-relationship, which lead to a more serious relationship, which ended by him completely disappearing on me, no explanations given about 2.5 years ago. There are tons more details to this story, but this is mainly what you need to know as a backdrop to this post.

Since C disappeared I went through a whole detox process. I was furious, I was hurt, I was sad, but mostly I was very, very angry. I had to go through a forgiving process to get rid of the anger which was eating at me, which I think I accomplished successfully during the summer of 2008. Lots and lots of exercising helped. And I finally got over what I felt was a major betrayal on his part.

Months went by and I finally heard from him in Fall 2009. I told him what I thought and felt. He eventually apologized and we left it at that. Come this past May and I felt I was completely over it all, no feelings whatsoever about it, not sad, not mad, not angry, nothing. His birthday came along and I sent him a note via email, hope you have a great one it said, or something of the sort. I figured that all this was part of the past, we were done, we could be friends or at least acquaintances now.

I received an email yesterday saying he had just seen my email (I sent it to a non work email, which he rarely checks, the only one I had for him) and thanked me for it. We ended sending emails back and forth all day. We caught up nicely, talked about where we were, what’s to come and the sort. Nothing much about the past, it didn’t seem relevant. It was good, it was what I wanted.

Until he started bringing it up. “I know you probably don’t want to hear this or are not all interested in it (and with reason) but I sometimes think about… or remember… or wish we had…”. He was right I didn’t want to hear all that and I was surely not interested in opening any of those doors. So I said so.

You see, my intention was that we could know about each other, catch up, talk, be friends as we use to be, maybe even pretend non of this had happened. I am not interested in renewing anything. Nothing has changed, we are the same people, we want the same things as we did then, and the situation hasn’t changed either, he still lives in Europe and I do not. And even if any of that had changed by now, still, this, he, us, is not what I want anymore.

I know what I want in a man, in a partner and in a relationship. As much as I like C, he is not it, and I am not it for him either, this is clear to me. We don’t want the same things, our priorities are different and ultimately, what we consider important in life is not aligned.

I do want to be friends though. There are many things about him I admire, and I value his opinion. With all that happened, I still consider him to care about me and wish me well, I don’t think he would ever do anything intentionally to harm me. So why could we not be friends again?

I don’t really have the answer to this question. I think friendship between men and women, who at some point shared more than just friendship, has always been a tricky thing and for centuries we have been trying to figure out if it really works or if we are just kidding ourselves. There have been many a movie made around this topic and the endings are varied.

So here is where you come in. What do you think? What has your experience been? Is it possible? Can two people who were previous involved now be just friends, with no other intentions lingering? Or is the existent chemistry always going to be there impeding real friendship to flourish?

7 responses to “Can exlovers be friends?

  1. I can't be close friends with someone I've been with. I just can't. Casual chats every once in awhile are about all I can manage. The rest just takes me to a bad place.

  2. Kate – I hear you. You know, that just might be what works for me too, casual chats now and then, this way things won't tend to get complicated and there won't be enough contact for anyone to wonder "what if…?"

  3. 99% of the time, I'm with Kate. If there's history, and particularly if there's been painful history, I cannot be friends. Yes, I may care that you are well, but I do not want to be part of your life or yours in mine. Case in point. The Engineer. I sent him a text message letting him know a thing on TV was on and I thought he'd be interested, seeing as it's for his job. He took that as "oh, now we are hanging out via text". And I don't care about that. Never again am I reaching out to him. The 1% of the time when I can be friends with an ex, is when enough time has passed and we are both in another place emotionally and we never really hurt each other too much. That is a rare exception. I think in the end, you aren't less of a good person if you don't want them in your life. It's not like you want ill against an ex. I wish the Engineer the best. I just don't care to know about it. Men tend to think that a woman reaching out to them means they're into them still. Ego trip. Not needed. So I save it and just don't even bother.

  4. InPursuitOfWholeness – I agree that when there's too much history and hurtful one, why even bother… I'm not sure that's the case with C, or maybe I'm kidding myself who knows? I think the fact that he is far away makes it feel less threatening for me. At the end of the day I know that we has to offer is not what I want, but I guess a part of me wishes that weren't the case.

  5. 12ontheinside

    I always thought you COULD be friends with an ex. After a few bad experiences though, I no longer think you can. There’s always something a bit off. Maybe one person will still secretly hold a bit of a torch for the other, or one’s just been hurt too badly, or one’s new lover doesn’t feel right about it – it just does not ever seem to end well.

    • You know, come to think of it, I’m not really good friends with any of my exes. Acquaintances yes, we catch up now and then, but that is about it. Friends, as in we tell each other everything, and talk once a week, not really, and I think that’s just the way it should be.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  6. Pingback: Cheating and Lying « My 33 People

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