Ex Factors: Things To Consider When Striking Up A Friendship With Your Former Flame

September 24, 2012  |  

We’ve all been there. That thrilling yet uneasy moment when we log onto Facebook and see the little red numerical notifying you that some face from your past wants to be “friends.” Curiosity gets the best of you and you click approve and proceed to browse through his life, see what he’s done since you parted ways two years ago. Soon after, you get the inevitable brief message, a testing of the waters via a simple “how have you been?” You respond cordially, and before you can fully process what is happening, you’ve exchanged back and forth messages about his best friend getting married, your cousin joining the army, and updates about life and happenings over a few weeks time. At once you realize you could, if not for the history of your once adjoined loins, call him a friend. But, should you?

Finding friendship in the Ex Files can be a strange and murky land to navigate, a kind of haziness between the love, like or lust you once shared, and the abhorrence and complete avoidance of anything remotely involving them. Most say “we’ll be friends” to step around shattering the bond completely, to enable access to one another without the responsibility of guarding each others’ feelings. Sometimes though, you genuinely feel he adds value to your life by being in it. And on occasion, it works. You both go back to being buddies or begin a new a friendship, platonic and with boundaries in tact, and all is well. Other times, remaining or becoming friends with an ex requires more careful consideration. When it comes to those instances, keep these three factors in mind:

The Status Factor

Whether you are single or in a long-term love, your relationship status is important. If you’re both single, you run the risk of falling back into “couple mode,” knee-deep in the mental space where how long he takes to respond to your texts matters, and suddenly you find yourself waking up next to each other after an “innocent” game night with friends. Even if you’re both free, sleeping with an ex can cause grief. More than likely, there is a very specific reason (or a plural set thereof) as to why he is an ex. And when sex gets involved, these reasons have a tendency to reacquaint themselves with your nerves … quickly.

If one or both of you are in a relationship, it can be even more challenging. You run the risk of having to answer the ever present “why” questions your partner is bound to have. Why do you still need this person in your life? Why is their friendship that important? Why are they texting you x many times a day? These questions can be exhausting to you and make your partner feel uneasy at the same time. Considering what’s worth the headache and what’s not is imperative when in a relationship.


The Forgiveness Factor

Sometimes you may think you–and your heart–have moved on from the pain of a relationship’s split. Recalling the apathetic tone and uncaring eyes used when he expressed his disinterest in continuing your relationship with no more stings. Remembering the amazing disappearing act he pulled by vanishing into thin air (or into a private Facebook page) doesn’t make uninvited tears leak down the sides of your cheeks anymore. So you, wanting to be emotionally progressive and all “water under the bridge” about things, attempt to form a friendship. Not two past before all of a sudden the negative emotions rush in like aggressive tide, and you realize that your inkling to curse him to high heaven whenever you see his face in person or in pixel, may have uncovered some latent anger. If you haven’t forgiven your ex for whatever crimes he or she committed against your heart, friendship will not be possible, and may never be.


The Feelings Factor

Every once in a while you meet someone spectacular. So spectacular that you feel as though The Creator sculpted them, down to the hairless chest, love of red velvet cake and slightly obsessive Nas fandom, especially for you. You share your soul, allow them to inhabit the deepest parts of you emotionally, physically, spiritually. But for whatever reason the universe deems, the relationship doesn’t last. Being friends with the ex you were truly, madly, deeply in love with is one that requires many moments of quiet, of careful consideration. Feelings once that strong tend to dissipate slowly, and at times, quite painstakingly. Allowing this person to re-enter your life, even for business matters, is best done after time has filled the space where the love for them resided with a bevy of other things: hobbies, a new love interest, a self-discovery, or simply a clean and unfeeling slate, so that you are not at risk of any heart ventricles stopping when you see them again.

Being friends with an ex can be rewarding, redeeming and a relief to discover you were better off as friends. It could all be so simple… But if any of the three factors above sound like a page out of your journal, I’d say, tread carefully.


S. Nicole Brown is a writer of fiction and blogger living in NYC. Connect with her on twitter @Muzeness or on her blog, Because I’m Write.

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