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Is it possible to stay close but not be together?

(22 Posts)
Cardamommy Thu 29-Oct-15 22:55:15

I'm just wondering what experience anyone has with this. My DP and I are basically more like friends than lovers these days, we don't sleep together and for a lot of reasons I won't go into, it's become more and more clear to me that we are not compatible as a couple. I don't want to go into details, it's nothing that either of us has done wrong but we just don't 'work'. I've talked to him about this and I think he understands to an extent but he doesn't want to split and says he loves me. From his behaviour I don't honestly think he is 'in' love with me anymore though.
We have a young child and I hate the thought of losing 'us' as a family and DP as someone I do care deeply about, and of hurting him. I don't want to throw away what we have but I do feel trapped at times. I just wish we could live in neighbouring houses and be best friends but I know how naive that sounds.
I just wonder how to handle this and if anyone has been in a similar situation?

RedMapleLeaf Thu 29-Oct-15 22:59:59

I think that it's a very natural and rational desire at the stage you are at. But I don't think you will always feel that this is a good idea. I would suggest that you go to couples counselling to navigate your next steps, whatever they may be.

AnyFucker Thu 29-Oct-15 23:00:05

why don't you split but stay friends and co-parent amicably ?

that seems to be what you are advocating

why would you need to stay a "couple" ?

if you stayed a "couple" what would happen when one of you inevitably met someone you wanted a sexual relationship with ...and don't say that won't happen because it will

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 06:57:27

Anyfucker, that's what I want but I'm just not sure how that works. Is our situation unusual? I hear about people being amicable for the sake of dcs but isn't that usually quite a distant arrangement. I'm worried once I start the process it could spiral in that direction. Atm we're a family and despite lack of sexual chemistry and various frustrations, that means a lot to me.
Yes if we stay together it could cause a problem if one of us meets someone, but that's not what I'd want if we split anyway. I think I need to be single, I'm not really a relationship person which is something I've realised recently. Not sure about dp. He was single for a really long time before meeting me tho.

WhatEverZen Fri 30-Oct-15 07:50:00

My ex-partner and I separated amicably. We both loved each other but weren't IN love anymore. So there were no bitter fallouts and we remained good friends throughout. Still did family outings at weekends, parents evenings together and the like

I think the key is that feelings were mutual as was the desire to support and parent our children. It was easier at some times than others, particularly in the early days but we worked hard to minimise the impact on our dcs

So yes it can be done

RedMapleLeaf Fri 30-Oct-15 10:14:45

I'm worried once I start the process it could spiral in that direction.

What do you mean by this bit?

Lulioli Fri 30-Oct-15 10:34:22

I think you are being naive. Forget his needs for a moment and consider yours. You will, one day want an intimate/sexual relationship with another. How would that work? I understand everything you ve said but I do think it's a bit like pulling a plaster of slowly rather than ripping it off quickly. Both painful but one method draws out that pain! I tried to do what you did and it got REALLY messy. My children were so unclear as to what was happening with Mummy and Daddy. It seriously messed with their heads and it's been hard work dealing with the fall out. You need clear boundaries for all of you to stay mentally well. Relate was brilliant in helping us breakup healthily and to establish boundaries. You have to go through the pain I'm afraid. No way round it. But you can remain intact emotionally. Get support. I wish you well.

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 12:03:33

Lulioli, do you mind telling me how old your children were at the time and how you explained it to them, and roughly what the arrangements were? I'm just wondering what went wrong and if there are pitfalls I could avoid? I agree I might be being naive but ds is still possibly young enough to accept a very simple explanation and not worry about why it's happening. As he gets older, couldn't we just say mummy and daddy are friends?

EskiDecaff Fri 30-Oct-15 12:08:30

Yes it is, I'm really good friends with ds dad, I'm now married and have another child. It's not easy and people have their own opinions about it. The first couple of years it was hard, it's now lovely and as pp said we do family things together. I'm prepared to accept it might change in the future, like everything, for now though it's good. i love him to bits in a completely platonic way, my husband and children are my world and the feelings I have for my husband are completely different to how I felt with exdp. I lived on my own for a long while before meeting dh which was a good move as it made me certain that exdp was a friend but nothing further.

EskiDecaff Fri 30-Oct-15 12:09:36

And also, my exdp was the same he said he loved me however years and years on he'd agree and he told me he was grateful that I 'pulled the plaster off quickly' so to speak..
Good luck

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 12:10:32

Redmaple,I just mean it's unpredictable what would happen. Which I guess is always the case. But I know a lot of emotions can come up even in an amicable split. I'm guessing there are couples who start off wanting what I want but it gets complicated.

As far as any future relationships go, I genuinely wouldn't looking, certainly not for a cohabiting conventional thing. But obviously we would both need to accept that each of us will probably see other people. And likewise any future other halfs would have to be ok with the situation.
I do agree lulioli that boundaries would be needed, just not sure where to draw those boundaries.

riverboat1 Fri 30-Oct-15 12:16:18

It's definitely possible to split and remain close friends and effective co parents, it's the case with my DP and his ex. However I think you both need to be on the same page in terms of where the line is drawn, and be comfortable with the idea if the other finding a new partner in the future.

DP and his ex remained close friends in the year after their split, still relued ob each other for emitional support etc, but over the years as they both met new people and established more separate lives that closeness naturally diminished. They are still good friends and do things regularly both together with their son, but with us 'new' partners/spouses and 'new' children also involved! The strong emotional connection and sense of partnership isn't so much there any more, and I think that is the right and natural way of things.

My worry based on your post would be that your DH isn't really on board with the idea of splitting at all, and you are idealising about still being best friends and a family unit but in separate houses as a way to appease him somehow? I think that way lies trouble potentially...

RedMapleLeaf Fri 30-Oct-15 13:35:57

Redmaple,I just mean it's unpredictable what would happen. Which I guess is always the case. But I know a lot of emotions can come up even in an amicable split. I'm guessing there are couples who start off wanting what I want but it gets complicated.

I think this is a realistic perspective. I think it's perfectly possible to stay amicable and be very good co-parents. I don't think it's a good idea to make promises or assumptions about future relationships or lack of.

Jan45 Fri 30-Oct-15 13:59:05

You are best to split now while you are both amicable, no reason at all why you can't still co parent.

You are being extremely naïve if you think you can spend the rest of your life with a man where there's no intimacy, if you are happy to give that up in your life and so is he then stay together but inevitably one of you will meet someone, best to do it now than wait until things turn bad.

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 16:31:05

Riverboat I don't think I'm idealising things as a way of making things better for DP, appeasing him, at least not primarily. I really hate the thought of hurting him and that's one reason I haven't made the decision, as well as not wanting to start again or be a single parent but I've reached the point where I think it's the right thing. I'm also really sad about losing someone I know so well and care about, and have shared so much with. I don't want to throw it away but as a pp said, living under the same roof without sexual intimacy seems a bit pointless long term. But I 100% feel I could and would want to be friends and still have dinner as a family at times for ds' sake too, go on outings. And be there if he needs me, chat about things, not have to be distant polite strangers. And the fact is he's not someone who's likely (anything's possible) to find someone else quickly if at all and he's a bit a shy loner. I don't think he's sexually interested in me and I know there are too many significant problems to make it work from my point of view. but but the two of us are his world and I would hate him to feel like the door has been slammed in his face, that the good times we share have to come to an end especially as that would hurt all three of us.
I know there are no guarantees it will work out well if he feels terribly rejected and hurt. And I'm worried I'll regret ending it, I know there will be no going back and even though I feel like this now, losing him could make me feel differently.

RedMapleLeaf Fri 30-Oct-15 16:57:35

Why won't you try couples counselling?

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 19:23:03

Well...I would consider couples counselling but I don't think the kind of issues we have would be resolved, we just want different things and we've talked about it a lot in the 5 years we've been together without ever being able to change that. I could go into details but it's just who we are really. You may ask why we got together but I was young and looking back pretty naive and thought we could work it all out with time but we just haven't.

riverboat1 Fri 30-Oct-15 19:30:33

Cardamommy - I see what you are saying. I guess I am trying to warn you against making a promise of remaining close/a tight unit as a 'forever' thing. I totally understand that you care a lot about him and don't want to hurt him, and you should definitely be able to remain friends and co parents. I suppose I am concerned that it seems like you are more ready to move on than he is, and might end up making promises to him about what separated life will be like, when you might well change your mind or want to start a new family unit or ease up on togetherness with him further down the line and end up hurting him more later iyswim.

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 20:26:47

Riverboat I think you are right. It's one of the things that worries me most, that I've thought about this a lot and he hasn't in the same way. It started as doubts I couldn't get rid of and trying to fix things, getting upset that nothing ever changed but it's like I've somehow gone through a process that's left me feeling pretty accepting about what the situation is. I could feel differently in a month's time, possibly, but it would still be that thing where you don't want to deal with reality as it is so you start concocting an alternative version of events where things will be different in the future etc. I've done a lot of that but not really anymore. DP and I have had some pretty frank chats talks about things so it wouldn't be coming out of the blue as such but I think it would still hit him hard. I think it would hit me hard too but I wouldn't be as lost if that makes sense. Not that I can really predict his reaction.

I don't want to make promises to him I can't keep, but I am as sure as I can be I won't want to start a new family. Love ds to bits but I am happy with one and actually think it's best that way in terms of what I could cope with. So that would be a deal-breaker in any future relationships which given I'm in my late twenties might limit the field quite a bit - who knows though.

I'm not sure how to talk to DP about this though. We've talked before but in theory, actually going through with it in reality would/ will be so wrenching and I don't know how to begin really.

RedMapleLeaf Fri 30-Oct-15 23:04:52

Well...I would consider couples counselling but I don't think the kind of issues we have would be resolved,

Couples counselling doesn't have to be about retaining the relationship though. You are struggling to find the next steps, and counselling could provide this kind of structure and support.

I'm concerned that you have some assumptions about how he'll react and I think you'd actually be surprised at how he does end up behaving.

Cardamommy Fri 30-Oct-15 23:34:45

Redmaple, Do you mean it's hard to predict how he'd behave/react, or are you thinking more specifically?
I understand what you're saying about the counselling, I'm just a bit nervous of the idea though.

RedMapleLeaf Sat 31-Oct-15 06:58:56

I think that you're imagining he'll be heartbroken and that this will you're going to accommodate his feelings with this platonic set up. But you don't know that this will be the case. He may be heartbroken and then he gets a really time-consuming hobby, or joins a dating website or starts a new friendship with a female colleague. These are normal reactions for the newly single. And suddenly you're no longer his confidante and the advisor and he's no longer trying to please you above all others. And I think at that point you'll want to reassess the promises you made.

I'm not saying that I'm right with all this, I'm just saying that you can't know. And actually if you love him (which I'm sure you do) you'd wish for him to get a new all-consuming hobby and start dating and make new friends.

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