Can An Ex Ever Be Just An Ex?

friendswithexI know that what is done usually can’t be undone, new broom etc. however conversations recently with friends have made me question where do the boundaries lie with an ex-partner?

For some this is quite easy I guess to define!  If you have been cheated on, if trust has been eroded, if the relationship was abusive in some way then moving on and making a fresh start from an ex can be easier. The motivation to leave and the impetus to ‘not look back’ are more clarified; therefore an ex is just some dim and distant memory or nightmare.

If a relationship has ended regretfully or has been initiated by one person only, leaving the other with no closure, what then?  Well from conversations, it would seem that when one person doesn’t want a relationship to end they will fight tooth and nail to sustain it and use every trick in the book to manipulate, hurt, and impart blame to keep the other from walking away.  So when they do eventually become an ex, time has to heal the damage incurred before you could even be on speaking terms again.

So what happens when you just fall out of love?  You see relationships are like Chinese puzzle boxes, you think you have it covered, both partners have behaved like adults, no third party intervention, life is all rosy …..and then one day you wake up and realise that what you thought was love was actually friendship, feeling secure and a little bit of dependency thrown in for good measure.  If both people feel the same then breaking up isn’t that hard to do, you move on and your ex still remains your friend, possibly soul mate.  If only one person has fallen out of love then it’s back to the no closure scenario.

So can an ex ever be just an ex ….well that depends on the ex lol!  Isn’t it funny that when something becomes unobtainable you want it even more! For some, coming out of a relationship and moving on to what they thought were greener pastures may not be so fertile and there is a realisation that what they had was much better.  For some the acceptance by a new partner of your ex and the relationship that you have maintained or forged may start a few pond ripples. This is quite noticeable in the infancy stages when it is fair to say that both men and women have feelings of doubt and insecurity in the early months.

So where does an ex stand? Do you keep in regular contact, text, messages on Facebook, calls?  When I went out the other evening with a girlfriend we had just sat down and a girl sat next to us. Within minutes in her slightly drunken state she was spilling out her life story about how her husband had left her for some woman on the local estate and he had come into work to tell her that the woman was now pregnant even though within their relationship children wasn’t an option.  As the tears rolled down her face she recounted how she had stalked and also sent funeral director literature to the woman’s house and constantly bombarded them both with calls.  Extreme ….well a woman scorned and hurting equals irrational behaviour, justified – I make no judgements.

I know other people who still sleep with their ex when they have had a drink, some who have no closure and hang on for the day when they walk back into their lives and pick up where they left.  Other’s where the friendship and closeness works much better with an ex when there is no pressure of a relationship.

It is a difficult subject to broach sometimes and especially if other partners are part of the equation.  Ex-husbands usually play a big role in your life even if you have a new partner, especially if a child or children are involved so their physical presence is always felt.  Ex-boyfriends well I guess that depends on a number of criteria, time together, behaviour inside and outside of the relationship, break-up circumstances and also your feelings for each other?  If you still have feelings that go beyond friendship, then that can cause major problems for new relationships that you have ventured into with other people.  If you have agreed on a plutonic friendship that is healthy then there should be no issues with new partners, there might be an element of jealousy or trust issues, however time should address these.

So in the interest of generating public opinion do you or would you consider any of the following with an ex?

1. Keep their number and possibly photographs on your phone?

2. Keep them as a friend on Facebook

3. Go out for a drink or meal with them?

4. Spend a weekend with them?

5. Sleep with them?

Hmmm …. Some would be considered acceptable, some slightly less, especially if you have a new partner – but it must be said that it can be hard. Time is a great healer; however it also influences emotion and can alter your perception. What happened in the past can be distorted, and new feelings could develop based on reflection and realisation that what you had could maybe be salvaged.

My closing thoughts are based on role reversal …. If you were a new partner, the triage of the relationship saga with your partner and their ex – how would you feel if your partner entertained any of the five options presented above?  I guess not particularly amused by 3, 4 or 5 for some even 1 and 2.  But in the same respect, if an ex played a major role in former years and a friendship does exist and you trust your partner, why should you feel jealous or threatened?  A choice has been made and you have been selected over them, so I guess what has been done, is done so look forward and just accept that an ex is an ex with limited access rights.

Image reproduced from eharmony.com

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About Sharon Yull

Sharon Yull is an academic, researcher, business consultant and published author of over twenty business and computing books and publications.She is qualified with a BSc, MSc, HND in Business and Finance, PGCE, Fellow of the Institute for Learning and also an Associate of the Assessors Institute. Sharon enjoys reading, swimming, outdoor pursuits, theatre, music and travelling. She is an inherent romantic always there to offer support, guidance and a shoulder to cry or laugh on.
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