Wednesday Wondering – The Ex Factor

Well, that’s it, summer is over and the darker nights are creeping in. We hope you’ve had a good summer and, if you’ve been away, that you’ve had lots of opportunity for reading. As the days turn colder and the nights turn darker, it’s the perfect opportunity to do even more reading, snuggled up on the sofa with the fire on, or hidden under the duvet.

I’ve recently started a new job which sees me doing a short commute by bus. The brief time on the bus and the wait at the bus stop have given me an opportunity to read far more regularly than I’ve been able to recently and it’s been lovely. I’m getting through roughly two books every three weeks so will hopefully start to conquer my TBR pile soon!

Of course, reading a lot means I meet more characters and, as my preferred genre is romance, I encounter more relationships. Sometimes the hero and heroine are strangers, sometimes they are friends, and sometimes they are blasts from the past, which is what prompted this month’s Wednesday Wondering:

It’s impossible to stay friends with your ex boyfriend. Discuss

I don’t think I’ve inspired the Write Romantics with my question this month. Either that or post-holiday season and back-to-school/work craziness has got on top of us all as I’ve only got one taker this month. Thanks, Jo, because it might have been a lonely WW this month!

Jo says …

Sam horse pic 1I think it’s definitely possible to stay friends with your ex, but there has to be enough beyond a romantic relationship to keep you together in a friendship after that last kiss.  My sister went out with a guy when she was between the ages of about 20 and 25 and she absolutely adored him. I’m going to call him Greg, to protect the innocent.  My sister’s now married to Greg’s childhood (and current) best friend, and Greg’s wife is now one of my sister’s best friends… are you still following?!  They all share a passion for show- jumping and my sister, her husband and the ex-boyfriend have a huge shared history too, having been friends for over thirty years now.  As for me, I’ve only had two really serious boyfriends and I married them both! Whilst I wouldn’t say I’d stayed ‘friends’ with my ex-husband, we’ve been able to sit together at our daughter’s school productions and sports days and she won’t have to worry about us not being able to sit on the top table together at her wedding. I’m don’t know how I’d feel about my current husband being friends with an ex, though.  I like to think I’d be cool about it, but I’m not so sure!

As for me, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to stay friends, but I’d suggest it’s difficult. But it depends on the circumstances of how the relationship started and also how it ended. When I started university, I had a boyfriend who I’ll call Steve. Steve and I met at uni and were friends who became something more partway through the first term of our first year. For a multitude of reasons that seem very trivial now, we split up in our second year but we remained friends. Well, we tried to remain friends. It was a bit tempestuous because I knew he still wanted more so there was always an undercurrent when we were together which made things a bit awkward. Then he met someone else. She didn’t like me (because I was the ex) and made it clear that she didn’t want me hanging around him which made it hard to continue our friendship. He continued to do his final year but I did a year out and we stayed in touch. In fact, we stayed in touch for many years afterwards and visited each other from time to time, but it became too difficult any time one of us met someone else. Eventually we lost touch completely.

In my final year at university, I made another friend who we’ll call Richard. Richard and I were great friends for a year, then got together in the summer after I graduated. It was a distance relationship and it suited us both because he could concentrate on his studies and going out with his mates while I settled into my new job and established my friendships too. There was only a 75 minute drive between us so we could still see each other fairly easily. I liked him a heck of a lot, but it wasn’t love. He claimed he felt the same way and that I should just enjoy the here and now. When he graduated and secured a job in Birmingham where I was based, I had to keep getting his assurance that he really wanted that job; not that he was taking it to be near me. He assured me it was just the job, but it wasn’t. Now that we were living in the same place at the same time, it was obvious that the relationship needed to step up a level … or fall apart. I ended it and we said we’d stay friends. I met someone else. It didn’t lead anywhere but he didn’t like it. He met someone else and didn’t tell me. I’d made it very clear when we agreed to stay friends that honesty was essential and that, if he met someone, he had to tell me because it would be awkward finding out by mistake. I found out by mistake. He’d repeatedly cancelled arrangements to go out (as friends) and I’d asked him outright on many occasions if he’d met someone else, but he was adamant he hadn’t. Then a friend of his accidentally dropped him in it. I wanted to stay friends but it was hard to trust him. Then he admitted that the new girlfriend didn’t like him spending time with me and, sadly, it became me or her. He chose her and they’re married now with two kids (we still have some mutual friends) so it was absolutely the right decision, but I lost a good friend.

Other relationships I’ve had haven’t ended well so there’s never been an option to stay friends. From my two experiences of staying friends, it hasn’t worked out. In both cases, new girlfriends didn’t like having the ex on the scene and I think this is one of the main sticking points. Putting myself in their shoes, I don’t think I’d like an ex hanging around all the time so I’m not surprised at how these women have reacted towards me. I was never a threat in that I was never going to get back with Steve or Richard, but perhaps the shared history was the threat and they wanted to create their own without me.

What do you think? Is it possible to remain friends with your ex boyfriend or ex husband? Do you have personal experiences of this? We’d love to hear from you. There’s a ‘comments’ tab at the end of the words below. Click on that and you can join in the conversation.

Jessica xxx

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One thought on “Wednesday Wondering – The Ex Factor

  1. Always a tricky subject and I think it really does depend on the people involved. It can also depend on how you parted ways too and if there’s any ill-feeling. You make a good point about new girlfriends on the scene…again it depends on the people.
    The ex-factor is as controversial as ever!
    Helen J Rolfe.

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