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Should I date my ex-husband?

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  July 1, 2010 08:47 AM

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I think we should all ditch work and meet at some restaurant with a patio.

Q: My ex-husband and I have been divorced since our children were small (they are now in their 20s). I remarried once for a brief and unfortunate time and I've had a few long, failed relationships. He used to date but hasn't in many years. We are both single now and remain very good friends.

He was always involved with the children, and our kids never remember us fighting or saying mean things to each another. Over the years we have changed and things just aren't as big a deal as they were when we were in our 20s. We are both nice people from good families and our families like one another.

My ex has always been welcome in our home. He spent Christmas Eves with us to wake up with the boys on Christmas morning (we slept in separate rooms). He came to every birthday party, and eventually every party we ever had he came as a friend and part of the family.

We remember being married and having many good times together. We now help each other with household things. He has helped me even when my boyfriend was living with me recently. My boyfriend and I used to visit him at his house.

We get along really well and have the same sense of humor and ethics. Not least of all we have our children's welfare in common. Recently I remodeled a room in my house. My ex helped me and we had a great time.

He is now doing his own remodel and asked me to help him with the design. It is my pleasure to help him - not only is it fun for me but I really enjoy his company. I think he enjoys mine. He never acts romantic at all and gives me no indication that he would like the relationship to evolve.

I admit I do think about it. I'd love to ask him to go out with me on a regular date: something fun, like a movie or concert. But I have some self-esteem issues surrounding my failed relationships. I'd be humiliated if he told me no, and I don't want to put our nice relationship at risk. I'd rather take what I have than risk not having his precious friendship. I would hate to think he would hesitate to call me because I put him on the spot. But, what if...?

– I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints, Boston

A: IAALPILIABOP, I'd take the emotional risk and ask your ex-husband/father-of-your-grown-children out on a date. And please, make sure he knows that it would be a date date. You guys sound chummy enough that a simple dinner-and-a-movie request might not be a big enough hint.

If he doesn't want to be with you like that -- if he has turned you from wife into platonic best friend -- well, yes, it's going to sting. And it may take you some time before you can jump in and remodel his home. But … aren't "what ifs" more painful? You can feel safe knowing that whatever happens, this man adores you. I'm pretty sure he'll go out of his way to help you cope with the rejection he doesn't feel the same way.

Please do not live in a box of paints. Please do not let this turn into an unrequited love situation where you're remodeling his home so that he can live there with someone else with him never knowing that you were an option.

And please, please, please -- give us an update when you know what's what.

Readers? Should she risk the perfect friendship she has with the father of her children by asking him on a date? Do you think he has feelings for her based on his close ties to her -- even when their kids aren’t involved? How bad would it be if he rejected her? Anyone have a friendship like this with an ex-spouse? Anyone live in a box of paints? Discuss.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

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.

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