Recently I wrote an article discussing “Baby Mama Entitlement” and there were varying opinions about why a woman may still harbor resentment for her ex and child’s father. The article was prompted by an episode of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and two of its characters – Traci Steele and DJ Babey Drew. Many of you suggested that there may have been underlying reasons for her outburst against her ex, and that even though we don’t see everything that goes on behind the scenes, the reason she might feel “entitled” to be in his life may be because they’re still physically involved, even though they are no longer a couple.
So I’m scratching my head again thinking: Why continue to have sex with an ex if there is no commitment?
Of course, there are several answers to this question – some call them reasons, others call them excuses. When it comes to matters of the heart, especially when a child is involved, there doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong answer. Should you continue to have sex with an ex? Can exes truly be friends? Who knows, but here is my take.
Personally, I think exes can be great friends, but it may take some finesse. And time.
If you started off as friends, you should be able to maintain the friendship, right? Seems simple enough and necessary if you’re co-parents. Sometimes, the friendship was the best part of the relationship and just because you don’t make it down the aisle doesn’t mean all is lost. After all, you’ve shared memories, made each other laugh, confided in each other, maybe share a child and know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets.
But some may say that this is exactly why you CANNOT be just friends. You’ve shared memories, made each other laugh, confided in each other and know each other’s deepest, darkest secrets – AND YOU’VE SEEN EACH OTHER WITH NO CLOTHES ON.
It’s hard to bring a relationship back to the friendship level after having been the most intimate with someone. You will always have an image of that person at their sexiest, and memories of your sex life could be triggered by something as simple as the smell of his cologne or hearing a song that you once made passionate love to. You might consider yourself to be the most evolved, tough guy or gal when it comes to putting your feelings aside, but it’s sometimes very hard to see someone in a different light after you’ve been intimate – especially if you’re still in love with them.
Aside from sex, sometimes you can’t be friends because you did confide in each other and now you feel you can’t. The person you once shared any and everything with may be dating someone new and you might not want to hear about their new relationship. Or, you may feel awkward telling your ex that you have a hot date tonight with a new guy. You may even be reluctant to tell your ex how your new boo hurt you or is getting on your nerves for fear of appearing silly or vulnerable – even though appearing silly or vulnerable was never an issue when you and your ex were together. That comfort level is no longer there.
If jealousy comes into play, then no…you can’t be friends. If it was a bitter breakup, even after some time, you may not want to hear how the new person they’re dating is the love of their life. Who wants to hear that crap – especially if you’re not really over him. Even if you’re the one who did the dumping and you don’t have feelings for your ex anymore, if they find new love before you do, you might be resentful. Petty? Yes, but feelings are feelings. The thought of someone else taking your place in the world that you and your ex once shared is sometimes painful to imagine. If you can’t be sincerely happy for your ex because of jealousy or if you haven’t moved on from the break up, then you can’t be friends – because true friends are happy for each other.
And then, what if the passion for your ex is still there? You don’t want him to be with anyone else because YOU still want him. Sometimes, the relationship was so riddled with problems that we wonder why we were with that person to begin with. Then we remember: the sex was good! Chances are some of us stay in relationships based on passion and sexual chemistry, not because we were truly compatible and are meant for each other. Just because a couple mutually agrees to break-up doesn’t mean the attraction is gone. So even if a man and woman start to “hang” under the guise of being “just friends” or because you share a child and the familiarity is there, it’s possible something could jump off “just for old times sake.” That could bring you back to square one, just when you were starting to get over it.
Also, if you know your ex still has feelings for you and you still want to be friends, walk a fine line. If you did the dumping and can move on with ease, be sensitive to your ex’s feelings if you know there are still feelings there. You might have no problem meeting up at the movies with your ex every once in a while or asking them for money like Drewsie did to Traci. But your ex, whose heart you broke into a million little pieces, may not like it that you can move on while still sending them happy little text messages all day while dating every other woman in sight. They might snap on you, like Traci did, so be careful!
Everything I said above may seem like it’s not really a good idea to be friends with, let alone have sex with, your ex. But the elements you need in order to be friends may simply be time, space and maturity. If you’re going to keep that ex in your life, make sure both of you have moved on and you don’t have that person lingering around unless you really, truly have a genuine friendship worth preserving. In a perfect world, exes can succeed at being friends where bitterness, jealousy and human nature DO NOT EXCEED reasoning and rational thought. If you’re co-parents, these things are necessary to raise your child together.
If you two were the best of friends before, broke up on the same terms and it was perfectly mutual, neither of you have a problem with your ex seeing new people and you both are totally honest with each other…then be friends. If you can’t say that, then leave the friendship behind…along with some really great memories.