Confession: I’m a serial monogamist. Out of the past 12 years, I’ve spent maaaaybe two of those single and prowling the town (and by ‘single and prowling the town’ I mean ‘not understanding that you’re hitting on me/avoiding eye contact with interested parties/dating men five years younger than me with adjectives for names.’)However. As I’m not married, the math here would indicate that I’ve left ten years worth of ex-boyfriends in my wake. Now, it’s not as dramatic as all of that: five years were devoted to a college sweetheart, three to another man, and a few year/year and a half relationships thrown in there for good measure.
Now what does one dooooo with that sort of thing? It seems a pity to spend such a big portion of your life with someone, to become so enmeshed in their families and dreams and then – because things don’t work out on the romantic front – cut them out of your life. But break-ups, no matter how friendly or mutual, are hard. And it’s hard to see someone who was your Special Someone, become someone else’s Special Someone.
I’m friendly with my various exes: we comment on each other’s facebook pages, meet for drinks if they’re in town. My college sweetheart and I are special buddies – I set him up with his current girlfriend and called him whining when I moved back to America from New Zealand and didn’t know how to cope. (He was the only other person I knew in Minnesota who’d been through something similar). I hang out with his sisters regularly and like to consider myself their pseudo-cousin.
But what if you want to be real, true, actual friends with your ex? Like ‘let’s hang out in our sweats’ friends? ‘Call just to catch up’ friends? ‘Catch a Sunday matinee’ friends? Is it possible? Can you be really close and emotionally intimate with someone that you used to date? What about when you’re both seeing other people? What are your relationships like with your exes?