I am a firm believer that ex-boyfriends and girlfriends can take the prefixes off their former titles and become… just friends. There are definitely exceptions to this belief, however, and there is no possible way that I will ever be friends with several of my own ex-boyfriends. For me, a combination of time, forgiveness and compatible social styles leads to the possibility of purely platonic post-love [or at least post-you-saw-eachother-naked] friendship.
It’s a tricky landscape, though, for sure. It’s not fail-safe, and there is also bound to be plenty [PLENTY] of awkwardness. But in the relationships I’ve recovered post-breakup, it has been totally worth it. If you think about it, both you and your ex sincerely [hopefully] cared about one another to the exception of most others for a significant, or insignificant, amount of time. Once the initial hurt goes away, it makes perfect sense that your compassion for one another will continue to exist.
I’ve recently worked to restore a friendship with one of my recent ex-boyfriends, and I found that it was so refreshing to just get caught up. To hear about what is new with his family (because you know you got attached to them too!), to follow-up on plans he started planning when we were together, and to learn more about what he’s doing with the house we once shared. And while we don’t spend much time together, knowing that any previous hard feelings are healed makes me feel good and like I have gained another healthy relationship in my life. I also feel more grown up for being able to put petty emotional issues aside for a greater good.
I’ve also had a long-term friendship with someone very special to me who ended up being a fairly short-term boyfriend [twice]. He doesn’t live anywhere near me now, but we keep in touch. Usually we talk about the issues in our current relationships and hash out what is going wrong.
It’s comforting to talk to him because he knows intimately what I am like in a relationship. He “gets my shit,” if you will. He put in some time holding my hand as I navigated it, and he heard about it when I needed to talk. And, as a typical guy, he oftentimes tried to fix it. I have so much respect and compassion for him that it truly makes my heart hurt when I hear about some silly girl not appreciating the things that make him so special. [And, yes, I realize and have admitted to him that I was once one of those silly girls.]
A few weeks ago, during our typical current-relationship-status banter, in an effort to accurately describe all of the good things I wish for him, I told him that he was my favorite ex-boyfriend and he deserved much better than he was receiving. He returned the favor and told me I was his favorite ex-girlfriend… although I don’t believe him. Seriously, this guy is really pretty awesome and he’s had some pretty kick-ass girlfriends!
In any case, my advice to him included all of the following sentiments: I care about you; you are an amazing person; you have a lot to offer someone who will appreciate you; and you should settle for nothing less than someone who makes you feel wanted, special, needed, appreciated, and like the amazing human being that you are, at all times. On both good and bad days.
And here I sit, two weeks later, and I realize I am going to get all of those things too. Life is too short to waste it on people who treat you any other way.
This sentiment was only reinforced in a recent conversation I had with my family at Easter. After my sister’s first date as a freshman in high school, my mom reminded her that she came home pretty disappointed in her date’s behavior. [And from my perspective, knowing who this doucher was… I’m not surprised!] Apparently, he didn’t “treat her like the princess” she felt he was supposed to. I mean, he was lucky enough to take an amazing girl like her out on the [our very small hometown in which everyone sees, hears, and knows all] town. He couldn’t be bothered to open a door for her, or pick up his own napkins at Godfather’s Pizza! In short, she expected to be treated like a princess [even at 14, she knew what she deserved!], she wasn’t, and she wasn’t going out with this guy again! I love her for that. And I love that story for teaching me a very important lesson many years later.
We all know what we deserve. It’s probably time we demand it, don’t you think? And in return, I will give the guy who treats me like I deserve to be treated the exact same thing.