I'm in Ireland. With family. Tracing my Goldstein roots through Galway. (Kidding. Not Irish.)
I'll be posting Love Letters at weird times, but I'll be reading comments and emails. And drinking. And eating stew. Continue on.
Q: I just went through a breakup with a guy I had dated for a few years. He was my first incredibly serious relationship and we both took the breakup really hard. However, after many months of heartbreak, screaming, and revealed secrets, I feel that we are finally at a place where we can be good friends. We have so much in common and we get along so well, it's not hard to see how this could possibly work as a friendship.
However, I have gotten to the point where I feel comfortable dating again. I have started dating one of my friends and we've been seeing each other for a couple of months. It's quite nice, although it's nothing serious yet. My ex has some jealousy and anger for this new guy but he never lashes out. The real problem is though that my new guy doesn't want me to see my ex. My new guy feels that two exes can never be friends and that my ex will just continue to hurt me (there were a lot of very public outbursts between my ex and I when we first broke up and we still occasionally have arguments over regret, guilt, and secrets). Recently he told me that I had to put my foot down and give my ex the final "no" to sever the ties.
I honestly don't know what to do in this situation. I really do love my ex, not as a lover or a boyfriend but as a person. I feel like severing the ties with him would cause me to lose a very important friendship. We both worked so hard to just remain friends I don't feel like I could throw all of that effort away. However, I do really care for this new guy (we were friends first, after all) and would really like to see if a potential relationship could spawn and evolve into something more. I would like to have both in my life but I know I can't.
Meredith, can exes really be friends? Which is more important? An old friendship or a new relationship?
– Can't have your cake and eat it too, Boston
A: You have to decide who's more important, CHYCAEIT. I can't do that for you. Only you know who you'd rather keep.
My only piece of advice is to offer your new guy a compromise -- because he's probably open to one. Acknowledge that you're probably a few years away from a real friendship with your ex (because you are) and that you agree that you should distance yourself from him for the time being. (And by "distance" I mean no calls, texts, etc.) But explain that you won't be able to ignore the ex forever. You're the type of person who'll want to check in periodically and maybe send a card. You want to respect your new relationship, but you don't want the ex to turn into some larger-than-life forbidden figure from your past. You just want him to fade naturally.
I'm hoping that your new guy will be open to that compromise -- a natural fading as opposed to a dramatic friend breakup with your ex. Because that's better for all three of you.
I have to say that I empathize with your new guy. He wants to be the priority, and he should be. There's real potential with him, right?
Saying goodbye to your ex for now doesn't mean that he's gone forever. It just means that you're moving on and accepting that he has a new role in your life. He won't disappear.
Readers? Who's more important? Is there a compromise? Will she ever be friends with her ex? Discuss.
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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.