Can divorcees be friends?

The ugly, desperate lows we often sink to in the heat of a divorce might make you think you would never want to speak to or see your partner EVER again. But the truth is you once loved this person, and chances are, they have probably not changed all that much over the years. Maybe you have developed and grown, while they have stayed stagnant. While it’s not often considered a “real life” without branching out and finding new interests, hobbies, or friends, it’s not an unforgivable crime to remain unchanged either. Depending on the number of years you have spent with this person, and whether you have had children together, you probably want to consider some level of basic polite interaction, and some day, somewhere down the road, time may heal the pain and create an opening to becoming friends.

We all have friends who fall somewhere along the spectrum of friendship, whereas we allow some people to become close, there is generally a much larger group on the farther end of the spectrum who are just slightly more than acquaintances. I think you’d all agree that friends have an important function in our lives, especially close friends who listen to our heart, make us feel better about disappointments and also celebrate our important milestones. Friendship brings us benefits.

So let’s consider for the purpose of this blog, the benefits of finding your way back to a friendship with your ex-spouse or partner. What might be those benefits? Consider the drain on your energy and emotions, every time you gear up for a confrontation with your ex. Of course it’s easier said than done but imagine how peaceful you could feel if you chose to approach the situation without letting the painful history trigger your emotions. You could use that energy instead to go ride a bike with your kids, or chat with friends without needing to vent about your ex for once!

Even better, think of the example you are setting for your children, who closely watch your interactions with your ex, when you can face one another without hostility. Naturally, the children are probably hoping you will get back together, but just seeing you act maturely and responsibly can set a great example for them to draw from in their own relationships in the future. Don’t forget, the children didn’t stop loving this person, so they will admire you – though they might not admit it – for treating their parent in a respectful manner. Ultimately, I think we all feel better when we can find the inner strength to treat everyone in our lives with as much dignity as possible.

But friends? Can you truly become friends with your ex? I think that many of us can find ourselves feeling more kindly towards our exes, once we have released the obligations and burdens. Time passes and we may come to see that charm that originally drew us to that person. After all, you shared a bond, you may have spent years together, so maybe now is the time to draw upon the mutual history and let at least some of the bygones, become bygones.

by: Amanda Singer

Amanda Singer with west coast family mediation center

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