I recently started spending time with my ex-boyfriend Andre. I’ve known him for almost a decade. He lives in San Diego and has been driving up to LA in his free time to enjoy the city. When he’s in town we link up and do something low-key like see stand-up comedy, get food or watch Netflix. This is remarkable to me because of our history. We were in a committed relationship for two years in college. That was my longest, most serious relationship to date. It’s weird to me that all those complicated feelings have dissipated, allowing us to move forward as homies.
I never thought I’d be friends with an ex-boyfriend. When Andre dumped me I was heartbroken. I went from loving him to despising him. There was so much emotion involved in our coupling and uncoupling that the thought of not having a zillion romantic feelings attached to him was unfathomable to me. Now, six years after our breakup, we’re able to casually consult each other about the new romantic prospects in our lives. It’s a trip.
“We’ve created a boundary, agreeing to be platonic.”
Lately I’ve also been friendly with another ex-partner of mine. This guy I was only with for two months but I’m still proud of us for putting our past aside to support each other as friends. A couple days ago he invited me over to drink and smoke. It wasn’t a ploy to get in my pants. We spent a couple hours catching up over weed and brandy. We talked about our lives, exchanging thoughts and giving each other advice the way old buddies do. It was nice.
I spent last Christmas at a friend of a friend’s home where I met a group of eclectic, progressive people. The host introduced me to his ex-girlfriend when she stopped by. “She’s the best person ever,” I remember him saying. I felt awkward for his current girlfriend, who was out of town spending the holiday with her family. I wondered if someday I could handle my future boyfriend not only being friends with his former girlfriend, but also still thinking she was super cool and spending Christmas with her while I wasn’t around. I observed their body language and tried to measure their chemistry throughout the night. There was banter and casual physical contact but nothing discernibly romantic. I found it fascinating.
I’m learning that just because two people don’t function as life partners anymore doesn’t mean they have to be dead to each other. Andre and I had a couple sexual encounters in the time after we broke up but we’ve ultimately decided not to hook up anymore. We’ve created a healthy boundary and agreed to be platonic. It works because there are no expectations, no jealousy, and no confusion.
So it turns out I’ve had to eat my words. I’ve grown to be comfortable having friendships with my exes, something I thought I’d never do. Of course this will only work when both parties have moved on from boyfriend/girlfriend feelings. It doesn’t happen overnight. I think our ex-lovers have the potential to be our closest allies because they know us so well. They’ve seen us from all angles and watched us grow. It’s actually kind of precious. I may even nix the term “ex-boyfriend” altogether. We’re simply friends.
Name’s been changed.