Michele O'Mara

Ex's as Friends

Filed By Michele O'Mara | August 05, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: relationships

We are madly in love, love at first sight. We have been together 5 years. Her ex...she says its not romantic, but she constantly sees her ex, goes to dinner, calls every day. When I have not been home she goes to the movies with her, not me. I left my whole life to come and live with her, and she continues to text secretly, hide to talk on the phone. Then lie about it. I get upset. I do love her. I know, I'm the fool. But she lies so well.. I know she has a problem. But I should be her emotional connection. I'm about to call it a wash.

~ Lied To

Dear Lied To -

I bet if we take a survey, the response will be overwhelmingly mixed about whether or not we should tolerate our partner's having close friendships with their ex's. (Take the survey and more after the jump...)

While most heterosexuals are not my personal role-models for healthy relationships (I'm going for greater than a 50% chance of success), I will note that they seem to have a pretty clear-cut stand on the friendship situation- for better or worse. Seems if you divorce, you're pretty much done with all hopes of a friendship UNLESS you share kids. Even when kids require ongoing communication, that doesn't work well for many. Interestingly though, it seems if you divorce because one or the other is gay, great friendships often remain between the ex's. Seems the gay part of this equation is where it gets a bit fuzzy. No wonder this is such a struggle for so many gay and lesbian couples.

Even if it has taken you five years to get fed-up with this, it's good that you now are. When we partner, we typically do so hoping that we will become someone's number one- that how we feel, what we think, what we want, and what we need actually matters. For her to believe that how you feel matters, you must also believe that how you feel matters. Because you have put up with this for five years, you have likely given her the impression that it really doesn't matter to you, despite your anger and hurt.

If a friendship with anyone becomes more important than a relationship with you, then issues are bound to surface. The caveat, however, is that your partner ALSO has needs, wants, feelings and thoughts that need to be equally considered here. There's always a flip-side to every situation, and when you flip your perception, you can almost always find new answers.

What does your partner get from the friendship with her ex that she does not, or can not, get from you? Are you capable of giving her this? Are you willing? Does she lie to you because you get angry when she tells you what she needs, or do you get angry because she lies to you and does what she wants regardless of what you say or how you feel?

Five years is a long time for you to tolerate what now appears to be intolerable for you. Perhaps she's gotten the message over the years that despite what you say and despite how angry you get, you really aren't going anywhere (because you have stayed). Tolerating what is intolerable does not improve a situation. Do something different this time. Respect yourself as much as you hope she'll begin respecting you, however that looks for you.

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This is a subject I fully understand. Out of the six ex girlfriends I have since living as Monica, I am good friends with 3 of them. Two of them I have no problem discussing somewhat intimate details with about any current relationships I would have, but I have no one at this time.

When my last girlfriend (who reads Bilerico) and I have become very close friends after the breakup. I want to see her be happy and find that someone special, and I know she feels the same for me. I don't use the term "best friend" too often, but I now consider her one of my best friends.

If I have a relationship, I will spend time with my new sweetheart and communications between my ex and I will drop off some. Same if she found someone. Spending time with each other is not an issue because we live 1000 miles away.

But, I don't like discarding people in my life. They have to discard me, which has happened to me lately. I would even communicate with my pre-Monica friends if they had the balls to do so.

I'm friends with all my exes. (I call it my lesbian side.) I figure it's fine; we broke up because the love/attraction wasn't there. Which, while the sexual attraction isn't there allows the friendship to deepen.

I couldn't take the survey, because it doesn't really apply to the situation. The problem isn't that the girlfriend is still friends with her ex. It's that she's lying about whether or not she's texting, calling, and/or seeing her ex.

I've been friends with two of my ex girlfriends, and every time I see someone new, they know that I used to have a relationship with my friend and why it ended. And, most of the time I dated someone else and still hung out with my "friend," my new romantic interest was involved or me and my ex went to a public place.

It doesn't sound like the writer's girlfriend is instilling trust in the relationship.

I think the fact that the ex lied is telling. She knows more is going on than she wants to admit.

I'm in a current situation that is similar to this wherein I am the friend in question. In defense of ex's and best friends everywhere caught in this situation, there are a number of dynamics to consider here. In my situation, my best friend's husband is very suspicious and controlling and would prefer my friend and I not communicate at all except that we are dealing with a 22 year relationship and I will not go away.

Sometimes people become jealous of friends for the wrong reasons. In my case the jealousy is based on the fact that I have been around a lot longer and I am a huge part of her life still. They've been together for 10 years and I am not a threat, but whenever we spend time together it upsets him greatly.

We've never been anything more than friends in the 22 years we have known each other, but I do provide an emotional connection she does not have with her own husband. In many cases, it is that emotional bond established previous to the current relationship that causes these conflicts.

No one wants to share a person on that emotional level, but if you need that connection and cannot get it from your partner (hetero or homosexuals not being different on this point) you have to find that connection with someone. It is safer to let them maintain a connection with a friend who will not damage their current relationship than to not allow that friendship and force them to go seek that connection from someone new.