Holiday family gatherings always raise the issue of post-spouses and ex-lovers, so what better time to think about being friends — but should you ever be?Â Our Family Adviser Francine shares her thoughts …
Further Grumblings on Being Friends with Your Ex
I’ve often heard men and women boast about being friends with one or more ex-lover or spouse. They think it shows some sterling qualities of personality and character: they are people of good will; they don’t hold grudges. Maybe so. No question it’s good to have a civil relationship with someone you have kids with or are forced to continue working with. But civil is not the same as friends. When people are close to an ex, they often have trouble moving on. Something great happens? They call their ex. Something happens with the new love? They call their ex. Who are they closest to? Aw … you guessed.
A couple of years ago, I did a piece for Time magazine on this question. Invariably, the women I interviewed who were so proud of keeping their exes in their lives …well, very few of them had formed new relationships that lasted. I’ve seen this with my friends too. If you think about it, so have you.
When I hear a man boasting about what great friends he and his ex-wife are, and how chummy he is with his ex-girlfriends, my alarm bells sound. I think that: 1) either he never invests himself fully in any relationship so that it’s not painful to stay connected; or 2) His ex is still the primary relationship in his life, and he’ll never really get over her.
But, you ask, how can you just let a great person you care about disappear from your life? Up to you … If you can content yourself with a phantom relationship, well, that’s all you’re likely to get.
Sorry to be grumpy, but get real. You’ll be happier for it.