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Staying friends after a short relationship when you are both Not Idiots but nice affable people

(25 Posts)
BearWith Mon 23-Jan-12 15:19:33

Whats the MN jury on this? Can it be done? Should it be done?
We dated for a few months, split up, got back together again and have now split up. It was pretty much the same reasons the second time around, big life stuff that they are dealing with that makes a relationship miserable/impossible. Don't want to say as it's quite personal to my ex and I don't want to out myself or them.
We've both mutually agreed to call it a day and are still getting on well, but am I kidding myself that we can be friends? Part of me wonders if, I should cut all contact or keep contact very minimal and get all the sad bit over and done with, as I'm still in the moping around phase and it seems pointless if I'm going to spin out the moping until I realize however many weeks or months down the line that we cannot be friends.

What's your own personal etiquette on staying friends with exes? Please share your wisdom as I'm really confused. All of my previous relationships I've left them cos they were knobs. This is the first respectful, mutual break up I've had after a shortish reasonably pleasant relationship and I don't know what to do!

izzyskungheifatchoy Mon 23-Jan-12 15:54:05

Out of all of my numerous exes there's only one that I didn't subsequently become friends with and that was more to do with geography than anything else.

However, if you're moping over him and hankering over some unlikely scenario such as you getting back together, putting time and space between the end of the relationship would be sensible.

Otherwise, when passion's gone, I see no reason why formerly intimate relationships can't continue on a different footing.

BearWith Mon 23-Jan-12 16:04:36

Thanks, izzy smile I'm not hankering I think, just sad that it didn't work out as I'd hoped and absorbing that. I think my ex would like to be with me if circumstances were different which makes it harder to detach and move on. Knowing that the other person is a bit wistful complicates things, I suppose.

suburbophobe Mon 23-Jan-12 16:08:28

Why are you asking the "MN jury" on this?

I can understand you want people's input. But at the end of the day, just do what makes you feel most comfortable.

(and him too, of course).

Living your life according to other people's views and opinions is the fastest route to confusion and unhappiness in my view.

ImperialBlether Mon 23-Jan-12 16:22:14

Justine would have to close down MN if everyone thought like you, surburbophobe!

BearWith Mon 23-Jan-12 16:24:00

I'm asking because I've never really stayed friends with an ex, yet I know plenty of other people do. I just wondered under what circumstances it 'works' or doesn't, as I've never experienced those circumstances before... They've all been abusive knobbers in my past. smile

GoingForGoalWeight Mon 23-Jan-12 16:53:05

I've never stayed friends with any of my ex lovers. It too upsetiing as they all treated me as if i was shyte on their shoe.

MooncupGoddess Mon 23-Jan-12 16:58:26

It's perfectly possible, but much easier if you were friends before you got together, and have friends/activities/work in common. Otherwise it may be a bit awkward, and as soon as one of you gets another partner the friendship will probably come to a natural end.

Probably best to cut contact, get the moping out of the way and then think, 'Do I want to be friends with this person?' It's impossible to have a normal friendly relationship if you're always thinking of what might have been.

SootySweepandSue Mon 23-Jan-12 17:00:49

Not friends with any exes. You either love someone or you don't. Being a friend is not in the middle.

izzyskungheifatchoy Mon 23-Jan-12 17:32:16

To me, that seems a somewhat one-dimensional view Sooty.

Whether it's a case of like attracting like or opposites attracting, there is an attraction to certain qualities unique to the person that inevitably remain after the passion has faded.

Of course, the 'unique qualities' may be ones that have killed the passion but, neverthless, when I invest my emotions in a lover it seems almost inconceivable to me that I should abruptly cease to care for them and their wellbeing merely because the sexual part of the relationship has ended.

A few of my relationships have not ended well in the sense that pride and/or anger has prevailed over reason but, after a period of time for reflection on both sides, ease in each other's company has been restored even if the intimacy or the 'being in love' that previously existed couldn't be resurrected.

In fact, now I come to think of it, I'm far better at turning my lovers into friends than I am at maintaining -my interest in them as lovers.

Mmm... back to the drawing board with that one.

BearWith Mon 23-Jan-12 21:24:57

Thanks for the responses so far smile

aurynne Mon 23-Jan-12 21:36:00

I have stayed friends with a number of my exes, but the trick is... you cannot "plan" for it to happen. Romantic feelings must have gone in both of you, and the friendship has to be rekindled in a spontaneous way. In all the cases I still talk to exes and consider them friends, we both needed a period of "not keeping in touch", which varied between 8 months and 2 years. Then for some reason we talked about something, or met, and we realized we COULD be friends.

Heleninahandcart Tue 24-Jan-12 02:06:02

Agree with aurynne. You can't force it, in this case it does sound like it will happen but neither of you are ready just yet. How about you both agree to drop contact for now and one day, one or either of you will realise you've moved on enough to be genuine friends. Sometimes there is an interim period where you are not quite there, still hanker a little but know it's not what you really want anymore. If you find yourself in that position, maintain your distance for a while longer and it will happen some time.

BearWith Tue 24-Jan-12 09:22:27

The thought of being out of touch with my ex for some time is so sad that it's pretty clear what we have right now is nothing approaching friendship. It's obviously something more. Which is okay; we just broke up. But I think long term staying in touch is going to be more painful than good and I need to (wo)man up to that. Dammit.

solidgoldbrass Tue 24-Jan-12 10:19:28

I would say, leave it (him/her) alone for the time being. Because you are sad, and you would still like to return to a couple-relationship with this person, which means that right now you can't see him/her on a friendly basis and hang on to any dignity. You will wear yourself out speculating over every word and gesture, and might end up bleating 'Let's try again, pleeeeeeeease love me'.

In a few months or years you may well be able to be friends. I am on good terms with quite a few of my XPs and many of the others I wish no ill on, we simply lost touch after a while. But the only one I was able to be friends with pretty much immediately was the one with whom I had an utterly mutual, casual break-up, we liked each other but had no feelings of love, and we'd had enough sex with each other to fancy moving on elsewhere.

Mind you, that's the one who 15 years later became DS' dad. And we still like each other and have no romantic interest in each other.

BearWith Tue 24-Jan-12 13:37:10

Thanks SGB smile To be honest, I don't think either of us have given up hope that we may get back together. This thread has made me realize that. Clearly I need to work out how long I intend to fanny around having strong feelings before things either improve and we get it on or I go cold turkey. Went though a similar thing last year and wasted acres of time, so I'm much more impatient with this kind of shit now grin
Thanks to those who advised. I appreciate all the different perspectives.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 24-Jan-12 14:58:31

I think you're realising that you can't, really, at the moment. It's SO crap but the more you want to see her/him, the less you should see of them until or unless the coast is clear to have a relationship.

It is really sad sad Expect we have all been there.

But if time moves on and your feeling for her/him fade, or you enter another relationship, you certainly can become friends. I have a lovely friendship with an ex, with whom there is no sexual tension whatsoever (er except about once every two years when i get drunk and just wonder, but only in an abstract way grin).

solidgoldbrass Tue 24-Jan-12 17:15:48

Also, if the other person is dealing with Big Problems at the moment, it's a little unfair of you to be hovering round pointing at your groin and looking hopeful. Let him/her deal with whatever the Big Problem is but don't, for goodness' sake, put your own life on hold; there is no guarantee at all that this other person will decide to embark on a relationship with you when s/he has sorted out the other stuff. Start dating again or take up a new hobby. Best of luck.

BearWith Tue 24-Jan-12 19:33:33

grin at pointing at groin looking hopeful. And, err... blush
Yep. I am trying not to do that. It's difficult cos they are very much the positive one saying 'I REALLY want to be with you, I just need to sort x y and z first' and I totally feel they are not intentionally pissing me about. This stuff all emerged while we were dating, and they didn't mis-lead me or anything. But due to the nature of what they are dealing with I think it could be a very long wait, at least potentially.
I'm pretty okay with being single and don't feel the need to date others so I can potentially wait a bit I guess. But it could easily get unhealthy (if it isn't already - mutual codependency for breakfast, anyone?) and I'm very wary of that.
You've given me good advice in the past SGB, when I was under another name for a while. And I appreciate your to-the-point ness here, too. Fanks smile

DressingGownQueen Tue 24-Jan-12 19:54:02

I think it is very possible.

Me and dd's dad had a 1 year relationship (she was accidental obv) then broke up simply because we weren't in love. Doesn't mean I don't really like him as a person, we spend a lot of time together and have a lot of fun. But it is all very simple for us, neither of us want to get back together.

I have had a situation more similar to yours and it led to a very destructive 'friendship' which really hurt both of us.

jessica361 Mon 14-Dec-15 07:14:17

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Mrswinkler Mon 14-Dec-15 07:42:02

Two long term relationships lead to two good friends who I would do anything for and they for me. I left one, the other left me. The pair of them are friends too....

Life's too short, friends are just as, if not more, important than partners.

Whenischristmas Mon 14-Dec-15 07:43:21

Zombie thread!!

Mrswinkler Mon 14-Dec-15 07:45:56

Ha! Didn't check dates. Blame jessica361 for that. Second time I've reported her posts.

FredaMayor Mon 14-Dec-15 09:31:56

ExP staying 'friends' with past conquests was part of the reason our relationship stopped working. How would you feel if you were his/her next partner? IIWM I would not think that arrangement was so cool, chilled or otherwise right on.

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