Updated: May 16, 2021
After a heated argument with my ex today, he likened our “friendship” to an abusive relationship. While my initial thought was, “This man has a lot of nerve, after the hell he caused in my life”, upon further reflection, I realized that he was right.
You know the drill. Someone gets her ass beat (literally or figuratively), she tells herself that she needs to leave (of which she has every intention), he apologizes and somehow smooths things over, she believes him and justifies the abuse because “he really is a good guy”, and the cycle continues.
Or. He cheats and gets caught. His woman decides that the relationship is too deep to end because of one mistake. She forgives him. But then every opportunity she has (even if it has nothing to do with anything significant), she reminds him, all over again, of the cheating and how much it hurt her. She blows up. He takes her tongue lashing. And the cycle continues.
Neither of the scenarios i healthy. But, people tolerate these things. Why? Love? Fear of being alone? Fear of change? Familiarity? Delusion?
I read an article today that suggests that remaining friends with an ex is the worst possible thing. Like ever. In fact, many psychologists recommend against it. Lollie Barr in the article “Can You Be Friends with Your Ex” suggests that we check our motives. Like, why would I want to be friends with someone who broke my heart — who disregarded my feelings — who turned my world upside down?
According to Barr, “Understanding your motives for wanting the relationship to continue is important. You could be resisting letting go because you don’t want to admit failure, or you’re holding on to a glimmer of hope…”
Or maybe it’s deeper than that. I mean, is that enough to tolerate the emotional abuse (often unintentional) that can come along with attempting to maintain a friendship with a person who, for various reasons, didn’t make the cut (to put it mildly), relationship-wise? Dr. Juliana Breines points to research suggesting, “…that on average exes tend to have lower-quality friendships than…friends who were never romantically involved. They are less emotionally supportive, less helpful, less trusting, and less concerned about the other person’s happiness”.
Case in point: my ex can’t even mention his son, by name, without it setting me off (and he knows it); furthermore, I have no desire or interest in hearing anything about him (most people have at least a superficial interest in knowing the goings-on with their friends’ children, but I don’t) — in fact, it will trigger me to the point of me spewing the nastiest vitriolic jabs I can muster. And that’s not normal. (For those who may not read this blog regularly, my “ex’s son” refers to the child he knocked some random, goofy broad up with when he was out of town “for work”, and named him the name we had discussed naming our future hypothetical child.
It’s actually kind of deep because if I was a real friend, wouldn’t I welcome hearing the great things about my “friend’s” child? So, again, why? Is the love I was able to salvage enough? Because let’s face it, there’s no way that I could ever fully recover from this debacle — even if I wanted to. So, again, why?
Nina Atwood, relationship (or more specifically, singles) coach, writes, “Wanting to be friends keeps you from feeling the full depth of the loss, softening the blow of the breakup”. For me, I think this is compounded by the fact that he is over 1,000 miles away, and I haven’t had the closure (of a face-to-face encounter) I’ve needed since our relationship ended. So, if I can still talk to him every once in a while, I can pretend, for a moment that he just doesn’t live here. It’s not like I run the risk of running into him when I’m out and about.
Plus, I don’t think I’ve fully let myself heal properly. Putting things into further perspective, FWB was the drama that ensued after him, so…yeah. So, at this point, I am still asking myself why I still desire to be friends with him. I have some serious reflecting and discerning to do.
Or, let’s be real — does he have any reason to want to remain friends with me? To be frank, what I’ve illustrated here is just a fraction of the things I’ve done during the course of our 5-year relationship to garner his disrespect.
So why? What are our motives? Our intentions? Breines cautions, though that, “Ulterior motives can be sneaky, though—our minds have ways of disguising them as more innocent aims. So make sure you are being honest with yourself about what your true intentions are“.
Lots to think about.