November 5, 2010

Friends with an ex?

I'm friends with most of my exes.
Okay, so when I say "friends" I really mean that we are "friendly"... or that we're kind to one another if we ever have contact and we genuinely wish the best for one another. Truth be told, I am rarely in contact with any of them. I just feel as if that's the way to go out of respect for my husband. But that's just me.
(And now that I think about it, I actually have more contact with my exes' wives than I do my ex-boyfriends, which has been really great. I'm glad they married really incredible women!)

I think many of my ex-boyfriends tend to think of me just as I think of them: as someone who helped me in my lifelong path to become a better person. Then again, I'm sure some of them breathe a sigh of relief, thinking they dodged a bullet when we broke up. Some would probably rather never think of me again. And there are those who still find my cheesy attitude endearing and funny. (thank you!)
Relationships - whether we choose to continue investing in them - tend to be a little more complicated than we like them to be.

Personally, I am grateful for exes. They have all taught me a little something about myself. They taught me how to love. They introduced me to different hobbies or music interests. They taught me how to deal with men. They taught me the art of compromise. And disappointment.
Even those painful breakups that left me crying for days (ahem, weeks/months) taught me about the depths of my soul and the never-ending hope that dwelled in my little heart.

I tend to think the same of my husband's exes. When we got married, part of me wanted to write a little 'thank you' note to each of his exes, thanking them for teaching him so much, for taking the time to share a little bit of their souls with him, and... mostly... for not marrying him. I even thought I could send a handful of "thank you's" to one girl -- one note for each year they'd been together. Imagine all the lessons they each learned in all that time!

Thus are the lessons of dating. I tried to remember that each man I went out on a date with could someday be someone's husband. I wanted to treat that man with respect, in hopes that he would treat all women (including any of his future "someones") with the love and respect we all long for. I believe we're all here to help each other, so being nice to the people we date just makes good sense.

Being nice to our exes... that's a little more tricky sometimes, isn't it? Sometimes we feel burdened by that memorable broken heart. Sometimes we need a clean break. Sometimes we feel we need to sacrifice those relationships for the sake of our new ones. And certain past relationships seem to carry more weight than others. Some people have to keep their exes in their lives and figure out how to deal, especially if children are involved. A lot of variables go into the decisions about these relationships.

Do you remain friends with your exes? What has gone into your decisions?


Meg Ruth said...

I'm friends with a few still, even one that cheated on me...

I think the main difference with the ones I'm still friends with is I was friends before we dated and we had loads of mutual friends.

Amy Ferguson said...

Tam- So funny that you posted this today. My ex (and his wife) are arriving any time now for a weekend with us. He and Brian have a great time together, and I really love his wife, too. If you had asked me if this was possible 20 years ago, I'd have told you "no way", but here we are. Funny how things work out! :)

Anonymous said...

Tamara, Don & I have been married 35 years. I consider myself friends with ex's even back from elementary school. My reason is similar to what you so beautifully stated. Each relationship in our lives is a lesson. It can help us to learn more about ourselves if we are open to do that. Thru the relaxing of those relationships we move forward and grow as well as leave behind those elements of ourselves that held us back. Give our best to Cameron. I can hardly wait for the book. Alice

fox said...

i think an excess of significance is placed on dating relationships. and that the villainization of exes is weirdy. some exes may be mistakes or embarrassments (we've all had them), but the ones that i genuinely enjoyed have mostly remained friends with me. i look back on my relationships with fondness and embrace them for what they were. i appreciate that myron had as much fun dating pre-me as i did pre-him. to quote mason jennings:

Honey i'm sure
That you've been in love before
Plenty of men have held high places in your eyes
And jealousy has got no use for me
The past is beautiful
Like the darkness between the fireflies

Fei said...

I am in friendly but casual contact with all of my exes save one who has an allergy to exes.

Two of them came out to my wedding (and others expressed genuine well wishes and a even regret for not being able to be there.)

One of them is really great friends with my husband now - that's pretty freaky.

While I would always try to meet up with them if we find ourselves in the same location, most of the time, I avoid any active personal contact with my exes who are married because I've not had the opportunity to get close to their wives due to geographic distance and I do it out of respect to those women.

Anonymous said...

I am such a dufus. Give our best to Evan. I had just got off the phone with a Cameron when I read your blog. Love ya. Alice

Anonymous said...

It makes me think of the Avett Brother lyrics that say:

But I can't go back
And I don't want to
'Cause all my mistakes
They brought me to you

Our pasts have made us who we are today.

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