Are they really friends? Letís help a New York gal deal with her ex.
Q: I am recovering from a three-and-a-half-year long relationship. Seven months after our initial break, we hooked up last weekend. It was a wonderful thing, and a terrible thing. I am set back again emotionally though I understand the reasons we had - valid ones - for ending things. I, for a brief time, was sucked back into a romantic fantasy we both lived for too long. I know what we had was real and true love, flawed though it is and impossible to continue. Due to guilt I harbor over a past break-up gone sour, I feel compelled to make certain we remain friends. I thought I was doing ok with this till we hooked up again, and I realize I have to keep boundaries drawn tight and sacred now. Feeling sad and rejected all over again sucks even when you know it's the right way.
a) What are the true odds on being friends with an ex? b) How long does this take if one takes the responsible friendly route?
I know these questions don't have concrete answers, but this is all true. Hit me with some wisdom.
-- photogirl, New York
A: photogirl, sometimes we put ourselves in the position of getting rejected a few times by the same person -- just to make sure the rejection is real. Maybe you wanted to see if a one-night reprise could turn into something more. I get that.
To be honest, it doesnít sound like you want a friendship with this guy, at least not right now. It sounds like youíre still in love with this person -- and that you want to keep the door ajar, just in case.
Youíre right about the boundaries. If you know for a fact that the relationship has no hope, itís worth cutting ties. I know itís hard. You loved him. He loved you. But cutting ties doesnít mean that youíll never know him again. It just means that the honest, no-strings-attached friendship you claim to be seeking just isnít possible within seven months of your break-up.
Try to be honest with yourself. If youíre not sure you want to end your romantic relationship with this person, youíre allowed to admit that Ė and to tell this person youíre not so sure you want to let go. But if you know the relationship is over, let it be Ė for now. Let yourself be broken up for a while without the pressure of making nice. Let yourself be miserable. You're supposed to be miserable for a while.
I canít tell you when youíll be ready for a friendship, but I can tell you that quite obviously, itís too soon.
Readers? Is she really done with her ex? When should she try for a friendship, if ever? How long does it take to be friends with a past love? photogirl wants to be hit with wisdom. Give her some here. Read yesterdayís letter and comments here. Submit your own letter on the handy dandy form we now have on the main page (look to your right).
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.