I'm Still Friends With My Ex & I Don't Know Why

 friends with the ex

I’m still friends with “the ex.” For some reason, I can’t cut my ex entirely out of my life.

Why am I still friends with my ex? It’s clear to everyone that knows me, that the healthiest thing I could do for myself is to end all contact with him. But for some reason, I can’t cut my ex entirely out of my life.

There’s nothing anywhere that says you have to be friends with your ex, especially if you don’t share any children or property, which btw, we don’t. Too often when we remain friends with our exes, we have ulterior motives: we still have feelings for them, we want to back-burner them in case we can’t find anyone better, or we want to be able to cyberstalk them at will.

However, when you’re friends with someone, you still have a role in their life, but the things we’d normally do for a friend aren’t suitable when that friend is your ex. Your ex doesn’t want your advice and, even if they did, it’s not appropriate; Plus, their (or your) current partner may not appreciate the bond you two still have. The worst thing you could do is to straddle intimacy in any way, and that includes sharing your secrets and feelings with each other.

Even though deep inside you may feel responsible for your ex and their happiness, you’re not.  It’s not your job to make things better. You broke up for a reason and, in most cases, it was the right decision. You need to accept that it didn’t work out and move on.

When I say you, I mean me. I can talk a good game, and I can give you 10 reasons why it’s not a good idea to stay friends with an ex, but I can’t follow my own advice.

My ex and I were officially together for about nine months when we broke up, but our post-breakup relationship has lasted much longer than that. I admit — I didn’t handle the breakup in a kind way, as I dumped him for his friend. Due to the circumstances of our breakup, we weren’t able to have any closure, and we’ve been in each other’s lives off and on ever since.

My ex and I go through times where we can’t stand each other, where we’re friends-ish, and times when we’re strictly former classmates. We were both theater majors, and there’s something about being sleep-deprived and taking down a set at 3:00 a.m. that bonds you together. Also, his sister is one of my best friends, so even when I don’t want to know what’s going on in his life, I’m fully aware what’s going on in his life.

We’re like family, only not.

I’ve been with my current boyfriend for over ten years, and we live together. He has no contact with any of his exes and isn’t even curious about them. He knows that my ex and I are friends, and it doesn’t bother him. Once, we even had my ex over for dinner. Yes, it was a little awkward, but it was okay.

My main problem with the friendship between my ex and I is that it feels almost entirely one-sided. I felt guilty for the way I treated him, so I made the most effort to stay friends. I reached out, I’ve checked in, and when I’d go back home to the town where I used to live, and he still does, I make plans with him to get together for lunch or a movie. But for him, he seems to think that friendship is a default setting and he doesn’t have to do anything for me to be there for him.

I might be a so-so aunt and an ok daughter, but I’m a great friend. I take friendship seriously and I don’t give it out easily. Honestly, I’m not even sure he deserves my Grade A friendship. I’ve tried to encourage his creative talents, I’ve lent him money, and I’ve reached out to him when I sensed that he needed some support.

My ex is in a long-distance relationship, and I’ve never met his girlfriend. I have no idea if she knows about me or not. I wonder if they no longer had an LDR if she would be comfortable with me in his life, even tangentially.

Eventually, I got tired being the one doing all the heavy lifting with this relationship, so I pulled back in real time, and on social media. For practice, I unfriended his cousin and his brother on Facebook. It wasn’t that I didn’t like them, but we weren’t close. I thought about unfriending his sister—but that seemed mean. I couldn’t bring myself entirely unfriend and block my ex., so I unfollowed him and hoped he’d get the hint.

I might not have been interacting with him, but that didn’t stop him from commenting on my Facebook shares. Every time he liked something or commented, I felt annoyed. Why couldn’t he just let us fade out of each other’s life for good?

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and told him that maybe it was time to call it on the relationship…or whatever it is.  He had a girlfriend, he had family and friends, he’d be fine without me.  Instead of agreeing, he said that he thought we should still be friends and he promised to be a better friend. I’d heard this from him before, but hoped he was scared enough about losing my friendship to actually follow through on his promises.

But nothing changed.

I wish I could say that I eventually pulled the plug on this relationship, but I still haven’t. I have no intentions of ever getting back together with him, maybe it isn’t about who is or isn’t the better friend, but the fact that we share a history and have been witnesses to each other’s lives.    

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