should I stay friends with my ex?

Everyone wants that relationship that will last forever. Sometimes, we meet someone and say, “This is it! I’ve found the ONE.” What do we do when the one isn’t the one, and the relationship ends?

The endings of relationships are difficult whether it’s due to cheating, abuse, or some external reason over which neither partner has any real control. The question always arises, “Do I remain friends with my ex?” It’s a hard question to answer because of hurt feelings and often dreams destroyed. The loss of romantic love always carries with it resentment or anger, which makes it difficult to move forward with a friendship.

The most important thing to do when a relationship ends is to give yourself an ample amount of time for your feelings to soften. Holding resentments is sometimes the only thing that gets us up in the morning. The “I’ll show him or her,” mentality is the fuel that keeps us going. It’s not unusual to jump into bed with a number of strangers and even go on dates to places that where favorites of our ex. We secretly hope that our ex will unexpectedly show up and see us having a wonderful life without them.

Eventually though, the hurt feelings end and the need for revenge disappears. It’s in the quiet moments of reflection that we remember the wonderful times that we shared with our ex. There were vacations, holidays, friends, and fun times simply being together. The addition of children to many LGBTQIA+ relationships, brings with it an extra level of responsibility. It’s reaching the point, where we remember the good things and take responsibility for our own actions, that a friendship becomes possible. However, it must be a friendship with boundaries.

As LGBTQIA people, it’s not always easy to make lasting friendships and our ex, at one time, was our best friend. It becomes a process of starting from square one with our ex and establishing boundaries. The days of sexual intimacy are over and the days of friend intimacy need to begin anew. There are things that a lover can say that a friend cannot. Of course, there will be slips on both sides and that’s when it’s necessary to set boundaries and say, “Hey, you can’t talk to me like that anymore. That’s not your place.”

The few bumps in the road are worth it if both people are willing to approach the situation from a level of sophistication and adulthood. It’s not time to be childish, petty, or rehash problems from the past. The past is the past; let it stay in the past. Remaining friends with an ex can be wonderful because without the confines of the relationship, the friendship can grow. Shared history is no longer lost, due to the end of the relationship, but enhanced with new memories added.

The decision to remains friends with an ex is an important one. Time Heals Everything is a song by Jerry Herman from the Broadway musical, Mack and Mabel. The lyrics of the song point out the importance of taking time to heal and realizing that we still love someone who is no longer the ONE.

As LGBTQIA people, we often choose our own families due to rejection from our birth families. People in our chosen families make mistakes. If, we truly love and care about them then we will find it in our hearts to forgive the mistakes, forget the past and move forward into the future.

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Will Willoughby is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Cinema-Television production program. He has also worked in the theatre on such Broadway production as Grey Gardens, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Inherit The Wind. A Squirrel Story is the title of his first published book.