I was at the gym the other day and happened to see a woman and a man that I know are divorced. My husband just finished coaching their son and he would often bring his fiance to the games. So imagine my surprise when I saw them walk in and work out together. It sparked a very important question and one that I am acutally asked quite often; can or should you be friends with your ex-spouse? My answer is always that each situation is different. Sometimes it’s healthy, but sometimes it’s harmful!
There are many factors that should be considered when continuing or forming a friendship (not just being friendly) with your ex-spouse. For starters, it could raise a host of trust and jealousy issues between you and your current spouse. Secondly, one must consider their motivation for wanting to be friends with his or her ex-spouse. Is it because you sincerely want to be better parents or because you’re just afraid of letting go? Do you desire to make his or her current partner jealous or is it a true friendship that you share with your ex-spouse? These are all questions that you should ask yourself about your friendship with your ex-spouse.
Be advised that the appropriate boundaries must be drawn in order to maintain a friendship with the ex. An outside observer of your relationships should be able to tell which one is the current and which one is the ex. As such, you should never be more honest with your ex-spouse than your current partner; discussing feelings of intimacy, problems with your current relationship, etc. Additionally, if you find yourself turning to your ex-spouse for advice or help rather than your current spouse, then it is likely that your friendship with your ex-spouse is unhealthy. It is also important that your current spouse be comfortable with your friendship with your ex. If you are constantly fighting with your current spouse about your friendship with your ex, then you need t consider which relationship is most important to you.
My husband’s ex-wife wanted very much to be “friends” with my husband however; she crossed the line on many occasions. She called him late at night, turned to him for EVERY problem that she had even though she had a long time boyfriend at the time. Additionally, she would call my house and not even say, “hi, how are you?” These types of actions are not only unhealthy, but disrespectul to the current spouse or girlfriend.
On the other hand, if you and your ex-spouse share a genuine friendship that is guided by healthy boundaries, then I don’t see why you can’t be friends. For example, if your ex-spouse respects your current relationship and can be friends with you BOTH, then it’s a healthy friendship that you share. Additionally, neither of you should have a hidden agenda; whether it’s making the current spouse jealous or one of you still have strong feelings for the other.
My ex and I had a friendship when we were both single. We talked on the phone, had dinner together, helped each other in our time of need, but it stopped when he remarried. I would NEVER disrespect his current spouse in that manner or make her feel uncomfortable with our friendship. The only way I would ever allow our friendship to continue is if we could ALL be friends with each other; me, my husband, my ex and his wife. There is no reason why I need to share a relationship, other than co-parenting, with my ex that is independent of my marriage.
Overall, you should know that these types of genuine friendships between divorced parents rarely exist. Usually, it’s a situation where one or the other just can’t let go and that can be detrimental to all of your relationships that follow the one you shared with your ex-spouse. As such, it’s crucial that you understand when it is healthy and how to maintain a friendship with your ex AND you BOTH must be on the same page in order for it to work. Establish the appropriate boundaries, make sure that your ex-spouse doesn’t still have feelings for you and consider your own motivation for wanting to be friends with your ex.
What about you BFSO readers? Are any of you still friends with your ex-spouse?