Yes, this is more mindless ramblings and nothing ado about model building, so if this does not interest you, move along. But if this does interest you, then sit down, it’s time for story time with Clem. The question at hand is about staying friends. And this is focused on staying friends with ex girlfriends, ex wives, ex husbands, etc. For the most part, folks generally cannot remain friends when the relationship ends. I know that I haven’t been able to remain friends with one of my ex girlfriends, but that I have been able to remain friends with two so far. I know a friend that has told me that they are still friends with their ex wife. But for the most part, a majority of my friends have not been able to remain friends after the relationship ends. Can you, and have you remained friends with someone you were once intimate with?

There are issues of jealousy, of resentment, of hate, but where do these stem from? I mean, seriously, you effectively spend several years in a relationship with someone, and when it ends, you become mortal enemies? I’m not going to waste my time discussing short relationships that only last a couple of weeks or at most 2 months – we are talking serious relationships that were either leading towards marriage or an actual marriage. Part of the problem is the hurt ego, how dare they cheat on me, how dare they break up with me, how dare they fall out of love with me. I look beyond the actual acts of cheating or the act of breaking up, and look at what potentially caused everything. Why did all this happen. The fault is usually on both parties. The fault is a total break down in communications. I saw this happen with my parents when I was younger. And I see it happening now with myself.

Once upon a time, when I was in my first real relationship, I had all sorts of thoughts about how things work, how they should be. They were formed from tv, movies, my parents, the relationships of other friends – whom were based on the same things. So having no experience base, I trudge into the relationship full of ideas of how things work, how I’m supposed to react, etc etc. I was young and stupid. I got jealous at the slightest of things. When she talked to another friend, the jealousy boiled over and I freaked shit. When she hung out with other friends, my imagination would run wild. When she didn’t pick up the phone because there was some sort of logical reason to why, my imagine went nuts and all sorts of scenarios played out with my stupid jealous feelings fueling the bonfire. Then when we finally broke up, I listened to nothing logical and the only emotions that flowed and controlled me were the feelings of hurt and anger. Fear leads to anger. <yoda> Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering… </yoda>  And suffer I did, I let my emotions run wild and didn’t corral them with logic. In hindsight, had I done things differently, we still would have remained friends; but I was too young and inexperienced in love and relationships to fully understand anything.

So, now I have some experience, the end of the relationship lends itself to becoming enemies with someone whom you once loved and cared very deeply about. Moving on to the next relationship, it eventually ended when the realization that each other’s goals for the relationship did not match up. And the break up was sorta amicable. Sure there were feelings of hurt, resentment, and jealousy – as she had left me for another person – but for some odd reason, we were able to remain friends. We talked about the new relationship, about my new relationships; and we remained friends. The key here is that we talked openly, even though I was hurt from the experience, openly talking about it placated it, and the wild imaginings didn’t occur, and there was no anger to lead towards hatred. We stay friends. And moving on to the next relationship, this one, I ended it, because I had the forethought that the relationship wasn’t working. Our goals did not match up, and we broke up. Things were a little rough at first, but prior to our romantic relationship coming together, we had been friends for at least 4 years prior. I would like to think that we would have remained friends regardless of the fact that she is now married to my best friend. Honestly, I think we would have remained good friends. Something was definitely lost as a result of the relationship, but I am positive that we would have remained friends.

My experience in relationships continue to mature and I’m able to completely control the creeping thoughts of jealousy with confidence in myself and using logic to analyze any situation and curtail any wild imaginings that may occur. I put a heavy reliance on trust and communications. I feel that so long as I am open and honest with how I feel and what I am thinking, that the same courtesy will be returned. And I am correct, this works. I am open and honest, the communications are great.

So with my most recent relationship, when we started seeing each other and formed a relationship; she had a boyfriend at the time. We openly talked about the issue. I don’t think I had any feelings of jealousy, even when she was talking to her boyfriend at the time while we were out on a date. As a side note, I have fairly strong convictions about cheating, but they are my own convictions, it is something that I would never do, and stems from my experience with my family that has resulted in how I feel about it. Regardless, this goes back to the story at hand. Our relationship was developing, and she dropped a nice little bomb on me a few weeks into our relationship, that she had already had plans to see her boyfriend in Hawaii over spring break. This was the year of the first ski trip, and the reason why she wasn’t around for it. I think the ski trip helped keep my mind from wandering too much, but at the time because the relationship was too new, or because I had already experienced enough relationships, I didn’t feel jealous, yet.

When she returned, things were very strange between us for at least a week or maybe longer. I think there were some feelings of jealousy and hurt; but looking upon it analytically, I was the other man, what right do I have to feel jealous. And we were open and honest about everything, and we discussed the issue. The communication between us was the glue that made our relationship that much stronger from that point onwards. I accepted the trip for what it was, and we moved on. I never hung the trip over her head, except in rare jokes. And in the end, it made for a great story to tell people.

Fast froward to two years ago. Our relationship is waning. She is seeing others. I start to get suspicious so I question her. She is dishonest with me, and I sense it, but I do not pursue it. The once upon a time open and honest communications between the two of us has completely broken down. The relationship was on autopilot, romance was gone, and we barely spoke to each other with any sort of substance. This is what I see in the typical marriage. I completely understand the need to find affection and romance when there exists none. A good number of relationships end because of this.. we affectionately call this falling out of love…Communication lines fail, and both sides give up and move on. What is left is resentment, hatred, anger; the only closure was that of a rage of emotions. There is no communication, each side is left to think and allow their respective imaginations run wild. No good can come from this. There was two years of this.

It took me two years to realize the deterioration of our relationship. Two years ago, there was a pivot point, if the communications that we had between us were still as strong as it was on day one, we may have broken up on the spot and still remain really good friends; or we would have seriously analyzed our situation, our goals, and things would have been completely different.

This brings me back to the original point of all this mindless gibberish. To remain friends after breaking up. I truly believe that folks cannot get over the feelings of hurt, jealousy, anger, etc and completely shutting each other out, only allows these feelings to fester and mutate into something inconceivable. For once upon a time, you really loved this person, really cared about someone. I’d much rather look back upon the years that the relationship ran in fondness, not with a bitter taste. This is why divorce lawyers and biased friends are a disease plaguing people and only serve to widen the void between two people. They serve no interests but their own. Think back to when you first got together, think back to the open lines of communication, to all the things you were able to tell each other, your deepest darkest secrets. What has happened to that person that after breaking up, and listening to lawyers, to biased friend, etc caused you to look upon them now in hatred and disgust.

Are we too egotistical, too self-centered, too proud to humble ourselves and recognize that we too, are wrong and share the blame in the destruction of the relationship? That the relationship is over, isn’t it better to have gained a friend rather than gain an enemy? That when you see the person on the street, is your first reaction to run over and say hi; or is it to turn away, run and hide? Or even worse, look for something to throw. Look back at the years of your relationship, the happiness shared; and wonder how all that could have turned so ugly.

I hope to salvage at least a friendship. I don’t know if I can. I’m just as guilty of shutting myself away and refusing to open up the lines of communication. I recognize that now, and I’m trying, for it is all I can do; I hope my attempts are returned as I know myself too well, and things can potentially go south real quick 😀

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Infornography

    I hear ya man. Like you, I follow the rule of where I never cheat in a relationship although I too have been, “the other man.” It’s cool that you’re being the bigger man in this and at least still look at trying to save a friendship and not be so bitter about it. I agree with you that it’s all communication and when it goes, it all goes with it. I wish you the best of luck buddy.

  2. Chaosdoc

    that was a very open bit of history… heres what i have to add. relationships of any kind are about boundaries, who you let in and how you trust them. different relationships all deal with the same elements and ultimately you have the choice of how you participate and allow access as do they. so long as any two have the same or reasonably similar expectaions things can change any way they choose them to. be careful of choosing how the different boundaries exist. some things are paired and some are not try to know the difference… want …need … have , figure out what they mean and their affect/effect. on a side note i have not been able to separate the emotional involvement from my serious ex’s(3yrs or more together) but because i know that i am not able to do this if they seek access to me i am slow to respond ,to protect myself. lesser gf’s to me i was never that involved with so i dont have the step down problem with emotions. see you soon

  3. MarkW

    I was hoping you two would pull through, but even from my random sampling of visits you were more roomates than lovers.

    I agree that when a relationship ends due to mutually realizing (before or after the split) the relation had no future, then a possibility of friendship can happen. But when it ends due to abusive (physical or mental) or adulterous reasons, or when one realized they were simply being used, then the odds of friendship are nil. You have been blessed in that it sounds like you have learned and grown, and had painful but reasonably amicable breakups. Throw kids, financial ruin, or some other ugly point in, and you may find forgiveness is possible, but friendship not. I wouldn’t be bitter if a woman fell out of love with me. But if she hurt my kids, used me to support her post breakup, and was a lying tool, I couldn’t possibly see friendship. Again, your situations have been different, and if it makes sense, I hope you two can still be friends.

  4. chindi

    I had been friends with all my ex’s. But not one of them worked out. When I got divorced, my ex-wife & I remained friends until she started to mention money every time she called me. As for my ex-girlfriends, we usually remain friends until I’m with someone else. For some reason, no matter how innocent my meeting or conversation is with my ex, my new gf always feel a little uncomfortable. So in all fairness to my new relationship, my contact with my ex’s usually fade away.

    But, to each’s own, the best of luck to you if you two can remain friends.

  5. GameraBaenre

    I think everything boils down to trust. I base everything on trust. I would like to think that anyone I choose as a partner would see my self confidence, see that I am trustworthy, and understand that the exs are friends. Which is interesting when things go south, such as a violation of trust that ends the relationship. I think folks cannot look past the violation of trust. They are unable to swallow their own pride and admit that they too were at fault. They are either blind to the initial problem, or purposly turning the blind eye and pretending that everything is just fine.

    I understand that a new person would feel a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve usually just talked openly about it and explain the my point of view. At the end of the day, if they are not able to accept that part of me, then in all honestly, they are not meant to be with me, as this is part of my character, and I refuse to sacrifice aspects of my own character for someone. There are at least 6 billion people that exist in this world… There will ALWAYS be someone out there that is a better fit; someone that doesn’t require changes to your character; someone that you don’t need to change who you are for, or have them change who they are. It is akin to putting a puzzle together, you cannot force pieces together that are not meant to be together.

    Understanding this, I don’t see why so many people cannot remain friends with the relationship fails. Are folks really blind to how a relationship forms in the first place, and because the foundations of the relationship are so weak, the eventual catastrophic end shows no possibilities of reconciliation? I would like to believe that anyone I become romantically involved with was first a friend; and a bit of a spark lead towards other things. Otherwise, in my eyes, it is nothing but lust and anything built upon lust is headed for failure. I have had such relationships too, and yes, I never remained very good friends when the relationship ended. Which is why I prefaced the above post about serious relationships, long term relationships, marriage, etc.

    There are exceptions to every rule; but in general, the simple act of swallowing ones own pride, and keeping the options to admit fault, opens up a world of possibilities with remaining friends. It is a two way street however, and this only works if both parties are smart enough to swallow their own pride and see beyond the immediate.

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