In my last column, I asked the question: Can you be friends with your ex? Dozens of you shared your personal experiences and took our BustedHalo survey.
Among BustedHalo respondents, 67% said after breaking up with someone whom you cared about deeply, it was best to take a break for six months and give yourself some time to heal; then, you can get back in touch if you can.
But what happens down the line? If you’re dating or married to someone else, can you still get together for coffee with your ex? Should your exes be invited to your wedding?
You’ve been seriously dating someone for a year. Your girl/boyfriend tells you that they have begun talking to their ex again and have plans to go to coffee to catch up. How would you feel about that?
This is a touchy subject because it asks us not only to think about our relationship with our ex, but to evaluate the strength of our current relationship. The absolutely WRONG answer is to see your ex secretly. Secrets like this are very bad for relationships—talking about it, at a mutually convenient, appropriate time is important. (This doesn’t mean bringing it up on your way out the door, either.)
Nearly 70% of BustedHalo respondents said they would be a little bit jealous if their significant other went for coffee with an ex, but they wouldn’t try to intervene—10% said they would ask their boyfriend or girlfriend not to go.
If you want to get together with your ex and your current boyfriend or girlfriend is upset about the idea, it’s important to discuss why he or she feels that way. Perhaps it’s just a knee-jerk reaction, and on more significant reflection, they have no real objections. Perhaps it’s the “appearance” of it to others, or that you would be taking time on a weekend when you might otherwise be spending it together as a couple. Getting at the reason for the objection not only helps you understand where your partner is coming from, but it decreases the chance for hurt feelings all around.
Witnessing the Wedding?
And if we fast-forward even further, we get to a big question that my husband and I wrestled with recently: Is it okay to invite exes to your wedding?
According to BustedHalo readers, 58% would not or did not invite exes to their wedding. But Peter and I did choose to invite a few of our exes with whom we remained close friends.
Men and women have different takes on this question. Many of the women I’ve spoken with say that they are unconcerned about having their husband-to-be’s ex girlfriend at the wedding because it’s clear who has “won” that man. The men I spoke with were hesitant to allow their wives-to-be to have ex boyfriends at the wedding because they didn’t want any men present who had known their wife “so intimately.”
If you are planning your wedding, raise both of these points when discussing whether or not to invite exes to the wedding; it’s a celebration that shouldn’t be tarnished by insecurities or hurt feelings, so respect your fiancé’s opinion and feelings if they don’t want to include exes.
No Right Answer
It’s hard to know exactly what goes on between two people in an intimate relationship, and no two relationships are exactly the same. You might be able to remain friends with a one ex, but not another. Your spouse may be friends with all their exes, while you are friends with none.
For those of you who are married, or in a serious relationship, it’s important to remember where your loyalties lie. Be open and honest with your spouse or significant other if you want to be in contact with an ex, and respect his or her opinions.
For those of you who aren’t in a relationship currently, but are negotiating friendships with exes, be careful that those friendships aren’t precluding you from entering into new—and healthier—relationships going forward.
There are going to be some relationships that simply need to end. “I am a devout Catholic and I take seriously the Christian imperative to forgive. But as regards dating relationships, even when forgiveness happens, there are boundaries created by appropriate closure, and often those boundaries are better left untested,” writes Jeff of some of his relationships.
Sometimes it is the most healthy thing to let go. You never know what will happen a few years down the line. But protecting yourself and your future relationships should be your priorities.