Can you be friends with an ex?
I was hoping for some light on the topic of relationships. I have been dating my boyfriend for about one year and he is still in contact with his ex. He tells me they’re friends—I can’t for the life of me understand if you can be friends with an ex?
Hello, sweet one! The simple answer, in my opinion, is yes…ish. You may be saying to yourself, “But Alyssa! What does that mean?!” And I say yes-ish because this question is more 50 shades of grey—not so black and white—and requires a few follow up questions. I think there are scenarios where friendship with an ex is a-okay, and others that send my red flag flying high. I called my best friend to discuss the nuances of friendship with an ex at the same time that this co-star notification popped up (do with that what you will), and we both acknowledged that there are many, many factors to consider.
To spare you the mental turmoil of the back and forth we endured, I’ll share what we mutually agreed on: Trust. Is. Key. If you don’t feel secure and confident in your relationship, that’s the bigger fish worth frying right now. From your original question, it sounds to me like you don’t believe that they’re still just friends—remember that you’ve been with this person for a year. A year is a long time (congrats to you two)! If you feel confident and secure in your relationship, then your partner’s friendship with his ex should not be an issue, so long as it’s within reason. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s not always easy to take that understanding, loving high road. So let’s take a deeper look 🕵️♀️.
It seems to me like you’re asking for us to approve your partner’s relationship with their ex (totally valid). I’m going to flip the script and ask: do you think they can be friends? Really, take five or more minutes to yourself and ask what part you’re getting hung up on or what’s bothering you about their friendship. You should discuss whatever comes to mind with your partner in a non-combative way before it becomes a thorn in your side. Do they talk often (a.k.a more than you’d like them to)? Do you feel like your boyfriend approaches his ex more than you regarding big life things? Do you feel excluded from their conversations and/or plans, if they make plans? Do you have a hunch that he or the ex is still pining? If the answer is yes to any of those—let alone all four—I’d say approach the conversation honestly and vulnerably. There’s no shame, baby, you’ve got this!
As a passive communicator and jealous person, my general feeling used to be, “Well, I can be friends with my ex, but you can’t.” But that’s immature and I’m so not that person anymore. Don’t be like the old me. Communication is quite literally everything, so speak up if you have any issue whatsoever about his friendship with his ex. A little bit of jealousy can be normal, as long as it doesn’t overshadow your other feelings towards your partner. And finally remember this, even when it’s hard to: they’re exes for a reason!
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Alyssa Julian is the Social Media Lead at The Good Trade. She’s LA born and raised, and when she’s not scrolling her phone for the latest trends, she can be found at the farmers’ market, camping out of the back of her Subaru, or searching for adoptable dogs on Petfinder. If she’s not off-grid for the weekend, try looking for her at her home studio, where she’s probably making cups for a new coffee shop. Say hi on Instagram! 👋