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Thread: Trigger: Ex wants to be friends - can we make this work/your thoughts?

  1. #1

    Trigger: Ex wants to be friends - can we make this work/your thoughts?

    First off we only dated for 3 months, but connected immediately on multiple levels. The first couple of months were like a movie & we were v happy. But as the sexual relationship progressed, he told me about child abuse he had suffered & had only ‘remembered’ this year in therapy. This was difficult for both of us to deal with & eventually he become so distant I felt I had to break it off. I am the first person he had ever told btw.

    First I asked if he was willing to work together with me to work things out & he said for now he thought we should be friends, saying he couldn’t give me what I needed at this time. I also knew he would be moving abroad with work for a year and he said he was on the fence about doing ‘ldr’. I had thought he was falling in love with me & realised if he was this ambivalent I’m better off single. But we could remain friends.

    I stepped back after that & he started contacting me lots more & initiating meet ups. We’ve met for coffee & been to a couple of events as friends. He does still compliment me (like last night, ‘you look really cute tonight’), but it has been platonic overall. Now he’s announced he’s moving abroad soon & has asked if I’ll come visit him/if he can still visit me. Does it sound like being friends is possible?

  2. #2
    Platinum Member Wiseman2's Avatar
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    It's possible, but it's up to you if you want to pursue that. See what happens, however keep yourself free and clear to date others.

  3. #3
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    Yes and no.

    Yes - I think it’s possible to be friends with an ex, particularly if you didn’t date that long or you dated many years ago.

    No - I don’t think you are in that place right now.

    Would you be ready and comfortable to meet his new girlfriend if he meets someone and welcome her with open arms?

    Is he ready to have you visit his country abroad with your new boyfriend?

    Do you analyze your other friends intentions if your girlfriend says you look cute? Or your mom?

    If any of those things made you feel weird, he is not a friend, he is a crush. And you need to be really, REALLY careful not to get into a situation where you stop dating and put your life on hold because you have hopes over a crush who chose not to be with you.

  4. #4
    Platinum Member DancingFool's Avatar
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    Sounds like a case where the wise choice might be to keep the good and fun memories and move on clean before things get messy between you.

    Btw, when someone warns you that they are emotionally messed up, beware. You have no idea if you are the first or the 100th he has told this to, but the idea makes you feel special doesn't it? This guy might turn out to be seriously toxic and someone you regret meeting later on.

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  6. #5
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    What RedDress said.

    It's totally possible to be friends with an ex—the shorter the relationship, in my book, the easier the transition.

    But I do think the fact that you're posting about this, and turning all these questions over in your mind, means that you're not quite ready with this guy. Only you can say for sure, of course, since you were the one having those platonic coffees. But just be honest with yourself about whether or not those "what if," "if only," and "maybe later" scenarios aren't whirling through your mind. Because if a "friendship" keeps you from engaging in new romance—well, that's not really a friendship.

    For what it's worth, I dated someone briefly this fall. Doesn't sound nearly as intense as this. A little spark that never became a flame—or, really, a spark that worked like a busted lighter: sometimes there, sometimes not, frustrating to everyone trying to light up. We ended things by just being like, "Um, I think we're actually just friends?" And now we meet up and gab about everything, including who we're now dating, with zero weirdness.

  7. #6
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by DancingFool
    Btw, when someone warns you that they are emotionally messed up, beware. You have no idea if you are the first or the 100th he has told this to, but the idea makes you feel special doesn't it?
    Great point.

    I'm not saying this is a line of his, but I think that "special" feeling is dangerous when it comes to transitioning to friendship. You don't want to be someone's nurse through messy emotions—you've got your own special mess, too.

  8. #7
    Hmm...I'm taking all your responses on board! Although I had strong feelings for him, I sort of came to the conclusion that I didn't want to deal with all his emotional issues. This wasn't an easy decision to make, but especially sexually, it was really affecting us. And if you remove the sex, what do you have? Friendship.

    I would be surprised if he got into a relationship anytime soon. For two reasons. 1) He tells me he can't emotionally deal with a relationship right now because of everything he is dealing with in therapy - it's 'not the right time' and 2) if he was triggered as recently as a month ago with me during sex, is that likely to change anytime soon with someone new? He has acknowledged it could take him years to work through his problems. I really don't feel its an act, I think he is genuinely struggling.

    All that aside, we were like instant best friends when we met. We enjoy the same things on quite a rare level I think & he is supportive - for example, he came to support me at a theatre performance he knew I was nervous about (after breaking up) and yesterday asked what was wrong/let me rant after an awful day at work. It's hard to explain but it's not often I connect like this with new friends or boyfriends.

    BUT - I think I need to be careful I don't pour too much into this in a way that makes me not bothered about dating others. Last night he asked if I wanted to take a trip with him during summer - and I feel like in doing that he's not even thinking about either of us dating in the future and how that might affect things? Basically, I would like to be his friend but don't want to get into a serious relationship with him now (or perhaps ever). I still find him attractive but recognise a relationship right now would be a nightmare.

  9. #8
    Platinum Member bluecastle's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LucyTupp233
    I would be surprised if he got into a relationship anytime soon. For two reasons. 1) He tells me he can't emotionally deal with a relationship right now because of everything he is dealing with in therapy - it's 'not the right time' and 2) if he was triggered as recently as a month ago with me during sex, is that likely to change anytime soon with someone new? He has acknowledged it could take him years to work through his problems. I really don't feel its an act, I think he is genuinely struggling.
    This is the kind of thinking that—and I'm just looking out for you—I find concerning. Sure, you could be 100 percent right. But I also think that you're finding a kind of comfort in this narrative, that your friendship with him is in a sense predicated on the idea that he's too defective for romance—with you, with anyone.

    People who are too defective for romance get romantically involved all the time. For instance, maybe the idea of having sex with someone he cares about is a bit overwhelming for him right now, triggering all sorts of stuff. But totally meaningless sex, for whatever reason, is not overwhelming or triggering. And you know what? That is totally okay, totally the sort of thing friends talk to each other about without judgement. Or maybe he meets someone at a coffee shop in two days and, for whatever reason, finds himself less feeling less weird and fragile and heady than he did with you—and, presto, he's dating. That is also totally okay, also the stuff friends talk about, and also the stuff that happens all the time.

    Then question is: Are you okay with the potential of all that?

  10. #9
    Platinum Member Andrina's Avatar
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    Perhaps you're too close to the situation, seeing him through rose-colored glasses, but for me sitting here on the sidelines, it's unbelievable to me that all of these realizations and impact from his past would suddenly emerge within a 30 day period.

    My guess is that he engages in short term, whirlwind relationships, and when it's time to progress to the next level, he bails.

    As far as I'm concerned, if I started dating a guy who stayed friends with a woman he had a 3 month sexual relationship with, I'd walk away and date guys who don't do this. That's just my comfort level. If you want to risk losing a future bf because he's not comfortable with you staying in touch and hanging out with an ex, and if you're okay with a bf staying in touch with his ex, then do that.

    As for me, I have enough friends and don't need to add to the group a guy who couldn't make it work with me. The connection you felt is hormones going wild as they usually do during the first 3 months, which is fantasyland. After that, the real person emerges, which you've now seen, early, in fact. I wouldn't invest any more time in someone you've only known for 3 months, because believe me, when he gets a new gf, you will be moved way back to the back burner, or removed from his life altogether. Rip the band-aid off now for your own good, and let the past stay in the past where it belongs.

  11. #10
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    If you gave strong feelings, then the friendship would be a misery.

    It was only three months. Better to move in.

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