This summer, an article by Huffington Post was floating around Facebook claiming that people who want to remain friends with their exes are psychopaths. It summarized a recent study that showed people who score high for personality traits like narcissism and psychopathy are more likely to try to stay friends with their exes for their own benefit, like keeping them as a fallback if a future relationship doesn’t work out or to continue to exert influence over their lives.
I saw this article because a few of my exes pointed it out to me; exes with whom I’m still friends. In fact, I am still friends with most of my exes, including my ex-husband.
One of my exes is still my best friend and we lived together even after we broke up. My ex-husband and I still get dinner or coffee every once in a while, and we get together every year for our ‘not-aversary’, which used to be our wedding anniversary.In fact, I am still friends with most of my exes including my ex-husband. Click To Tweet
I get a lot of weird looks when I tell people how close I am with my exes.
We’re taught that it’s a bad idea to be friends with our exes. The relationship ended for a reason and there’s no reason to put ourselves close to that heartbreak. In some cases, this is true. If there was any kind of trauma in the relationship it may be better completely disengage. But I think there are plenty of cases where being friends with your exes can be a healing experience; when handled carefully.
When I was 23, my life fell apart and I had to do a lot of self-examination in order to put it back together.
One of the things I realized as a result of this self-examination was that I had been an awful girlfriend and wife. I was selfish and I played the victim a lot. I liked to blame everything on everyone else, and I was rarely willing to accept blame when I acted poorly.
In some of my relationships, I was even emotionally abusive. I hadn’t intended to be an awful partner, but I’d never been taught how to be a good partner.One of my exes is still my best friend and we lived together even after we broke up. Click To Tweet
When I realized that a lot of my trouble in my relationships had been my own doing, I was devastated. I reflected on the impact these exes had on my life, and I felt like pieces of me were missing because they weren’t in my life anymore. It wasn’t about wanting to get back together with any of them, it was about wanting to repair the damage I’d done.
I started to understand the importance of owning my shit, and I knew I needed to do that with these exes.I felt like pieces of me were missing because they weren't in my life anymore. Click To Tweet
So, I contacted my exes and asked them if they’d be willing to talk. One told me to fuck off, and that was totally her right. A few others said they’d be willing, so we made plans to meet. I apologized for the way I’d acted throughout our relationship and asked if there was anything I could do to make it right.
Then I did a really hard thing: I shut up and let them talk about how my behavior had affected them.
It was really painful to hear about the way my conduct had hurt them, but it was what I needed to hear.
After some difficult conversations, each of my exes agreed that we could try to move forward as friends. We made a commitment to leave the toxic past behind and move forward on a new basis. I made a commitment to myself and them that I would no longer view our relationships through the lens of self-interest. I committed that I would always be aware of what I said and how my words may affect them.
I promised that I would accept responsibility when I acted poorly.
I promised to show up for our friendship and to be there for them in ways I hadn’t been when we dated.We made a commitment to leave the toxic past behind and move forward. Click To Tweet
It’s been years since I had these conversations with my exes and we’ve built strong friendships. Our exes know us in ways that others never could. They hold secrets to our psyches that are essential to our self-knowledge. It’s been my experience that my exes can hold me in check and make me a better person in ways that few others can.
Being friends with my exes has improved my life drastically.