Word on the street is that there will be six exes at the royal wedding, four from Prince William's side and two from Kate's. It seems like there was a mutual agreement in advance that ex's would be included in the nuptials. We've all heard people say it: "I remain friends with all of my exes." We know it's possible to be civil and even amicable with an ex, but close friends?
First we need to define the true meaning of a friend, and this may vary, depending on the person. Generally, a friend is someone to confide in, to lean on for support, to be there for, and to hang out with. More often than not there is no sexual interaction or flirting unless of course it's a "friend with benefits."
When an ex stays in a person's life after a breakup, the slope becomes a little slippery, particularly post divorce. Starting over after divorce requires a lot of housecleaning and self-reflection, which often results in shedding the extra weight of being emotionally or energetically invested in the ex. Friendships require effort and time if they are to be nurtured. Many people post divorce need to put that energy into building a new life, creating new friendships, and a new relationship...not into their ex.
Here are some tips to maintain a healthy, disengaged relationship with your ex:
Do not invite your ex to events you are hosting, especially your next wedding. It's just plain weird for everyone involved. You may think your kids want daddy or mommy to be there, but this is no reason to include your ex in your festivities. There may be times when it is strategically smart to include your ex with regard to divorce settlement issues. In these cases it would be wise to set some boundaries beforehand. For example, requesting your ex come alone (sans new girlfriend/boyfriend) or explicitly stating how you expect to interact at the gathering. This will set you both on the same page so there are no upsets or unexpected faux pas.
Do not confide in your ex on personal matters. While it may seem natural after a long relationship, it's time to find new confidants to lean on. Even the most well intentioned ex will have feelings about anything you share so it's better to keep things close to the vest going forward. You have no idea where the information you share will travel beyond your ex, and you also don't know how or when anything you say might be used against you in court or elsewhere. Your relationship with your ex has changed, and its important to remember this person is no longer a trusted friend. Just the facts ma'am.
Do be cordial, friendly and considerate to your ex. Sometimes it's hard to find the balance between being friends and enemies. You are striving for the grey area in the divorce relationship, and this is what makes this new way of interacting so tricky. Many people think they either have to hate their ex or still be in love with them. It may feel awkward at first to maintain some distance in the relationship, but over time it will feel natural. Keep topics light, talk about the kids, a recent movie you saw or a current event in the news.
Do let your ex know (if you are on amicable terms) that socially disentangling from one another's lives will help each of you create a strong foundation for your new lives post divorce. When one partner decides to restructure the relationship without the others knowledge, it can leave the other spouse feeling confused by the change. Open communication about the subject will help both of you adjust in a healthy adaptive way. These kinds of conversations can feel cruel or rejecting, but if done with kindness and an open heart they can usually are productive and helpful.
Adjusting your relationship from spouse to ex is a conscious decision made up of many small actions. It might feel odd and counter-intuitive at first, but with a little practice you can transform your ex relationship into a peaceful one so you can live happily ever after.
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