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So I've been on ENA for a while now, and I haven't really posted much about my situation. I was with a man 30 years older than I am, he's divorced, got two kids, and we were on and off for about 6 months. There were a lot of things that made our relationship impossible, one of which was the age gap, his kids, his schedule, etc. I know him professionally, and we run into the same community circle.


Anyway, I've pretty much accepted the fact that we are no longer going to get back together. It's been 1 month now since we've broken up foreal, and since the last contact. The reason for us breaking up was that he said he has a lot of things in his plate, and that he cannot commit to a full-time relationship. He's got kids, and his new job. Even though the last time we met, I was begging and pleading him to stay, we sort of ended things amicably. He said that he wanted to stay friends. I said, maybe we should take a break first, and then I'll call you when I'm ready to be friends. I said never to call me, and he said he will delete my number (ouch!). I said that we could email each other, but he hasn't emailed me yet. I haven't emailed him either.


The thing that baffles me, is, why the heck do exes offer friendship? Is it because they want to keep you in their life? Has anybody had this experience? I don't mind being his friend in the future because I have one ex, whom I'm really close to (and he was my first love too), and I know that I will never get back together with the first love, I can't even imagine sleeping with him! My feelings are gone.


And so, do you think that he lost attraction that's why he could stay friends with me? Or I don't know, I just really want to know!

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Perhaps you just remind him of a sweet and hopeful time in his life, and he likes being reminded that that's possible. I tend to stay friends with ex's. I don't see anything wrong with it. Of course, I also tend to look at everyone I know, friends, family, ex's, etc. from the best possible light. This means that when I think of the ex, I'm much more likely to recall that amazing time we spent connecting with each other at the B&B rather then the stupid fight we had over the phone bill.


I think that all my ex's are wonderful, fantastic people. I know this to be true because they were cool enough to date me.

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Thats great that you look at all your ex's in a positive light. But, when you think back about the great times when you connected, etc., how does that not make you sad? How does that not bring back the feelings you once had?


Sometimes it does make me sad. Sometimes, it does bring back feelings. That's ok though. Sadness is a fundamental state of human being. It's natural. To deny all your sadness is to deny who you really are. What kind of life is that?


"I just want to be happy half the time, and blue only when I have the time."


Besides, the new happiness you let into your life should balance out any feelings of sadness you may have from recalling fond memories about the ex. I know that my take on relationships isn't like most people's take. I'm in the small minority this way. This is one reason why my last relationship broke up. I accept that. I'd rather be alone and true then with someone and lying to myself or to her. I'm likely to stay friends with my ex's. Similarly, I'm still friends with the last ex who said she needed to break up with me because I wouldn't stop being friends with the ex that came before her. And potentially, I could lose my next relationship because I won't stop being friends with the one who broke up with me last. Oh, the irony of it all.

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I, too, like to try to stay friends with my exes. Like Jetts.


But maybe I should qualify that to say, I have always WANTED to stay friends, (at least when the dust had settled and some grieving done), and extended that offer, but it has only been accepted by a couple of them. These are ones who shared a similar value system in this, and who saw that they were the worse off with me completely gone than me not being their SO anymore. (This applies regardless of who did the dumping, and of course it was far more painful to make this transition if I was the dumpee.)


Let's put it this way: I got together with them for a reason, that main reason being that I felt a deep sense of kinship with who they are, their struggles, their history, their interests (and especially the ones they could teach me things about, which I learned from and thus it enriched my life in new ways), the way I could listen and be listened to about the things that mattered to me/them. In addition to that, I developed the raging hots for them (or maybe that element was there from the beginning). So it became romantic, and lusty, and passionate. When we broke up, that layer was dissolved, but for me, the bedrock of the rest was always still there. Why would I not still be interested in their struggles and triumphs, their evolving developments, their interests, learning from eachother and sharing things that we share in a particular way that gives us a "lift"?


For many people though, this can only be appreciated when you have that lusty and passionate bond going, and the house of cards caves in when that goes. The question for many, including my ex, is apparently, "What's the point? I will find new partners to share myself with, who are the whole package, including the love relationship, why do I need you anymore? You were a lover, lovers come and go." To me, this is a very limited way of seeing people, and it was devastating to me more than ever in my last break-up, because I truly felt that my ex and I shared idiosyncrasies that were too precious to just throw out with "the bathwater." Knowing that he could and did, pulverized my heart. So, some people see the romance as the bedrock, and the friendship aspect as built around that. I am the other way around. But it really opened my eyes as to why I had so many fights with my ex about my continued friendship and contact with my exes -- he couldn't fathom why anyone would want to do that. Ironically, one reason we broke up was because I wanted to be friends with men, past and present, who I still felt enough connection with to retain in my life. Thinking as HE did, people just severed people, I guess. So ironically, my open way of thinking about relationships and friendships led to our demise, and I was just another head on the heap for him. How different we were!!


I also find myself in the minority with this, which is why I feel I'm likely to either get with another unconventionally-minded person on this, so they are secure in their past relationships and are supportive of me in mine, and will also tacitly share the understanding that love is love, and it may change form over time, but that there is no reason to cut off someone from your life unless you decide your relationship outside the romance had no substance.


This doesn't mean there isn't a right time for all this to happen -- there has to be a distancing before you can come back together to be friends, because the pain of the memories and break-up and times you shared that you can't anymore are still too fresh.


Which is where you are at. It is still too fresh to remember the good times more often than the bad. It sounds like this break is pretty recent. To get to the point that a real connection with your ex that feels beneficial, rather than sad and broken, you will have to give yourself more time. Then again, I do think the age gap in your case is a natural "distancer", in that you are at totally different stages in your life. He has lived much more and experienced many more things that you cannot well relate to now, and you are at a phase that he has long passed. So you naturally may drift from him, even if the intentions are there to remain in contact. When you are 60 and he 90, you will have more to talk about on the same playing field. But right now, your lives really are going in different directions. Some people also say they want to be "friends", just to say that, because they have wishful thoughts about it. But in reality, the drive just isn't there. I know you are hurting right now and missing him, but don't expect him to e-mail or call to prove he is following through with his offer to be friends. In fact, he sounds pretty pre-occupied with his life in other ways, and so the best thing you can do now is heal without him, get out and socialize, and recognize that the break-up was because you were not right for eachother as a couple.


The rest will play itself out in time.


Two of my exes from 10-20 years ago just came out of the woodwork recently, out of the blue. Those breakups were left with estrangement and for them, a lot of anger. One of them called me and we had a really nice chat this past Thanksgiving. Once you've been that close to someone, it will never die in your heart or theirs, and you never know at what point there will be a time when you reconnect. I am very close to one of my exes, but these other ones who drifted because they chose to, they are friends in spirit, my door always open to them, and there is nothing you can do to MAKE them enter. YOU have to want it, though, to leave the possibility open. If YOU don't want it or see a point to it, then it's time to just let go and allow the mystery of time figure out the destiny of that relationship.

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^That is exactly how my ex felt.


Most people feel this way. (By the way, I never betrayed my ex, I was very loyal, but my alliances with others FELT like betrayal to him.) The mindset of the person is key to whether they really care to keep caring.


Funny, I felt betrayed by his feeling that friendship was a "downgrade", as to me it was the heart and soul of the relationship. But Zorba has used a good word to describe it. Just reading that bums me out all over again.

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Thanks everyone for your response! I was just really curious as to why he had wanted to remain friends.


The break-up is indeed fairly recent - the "official" break-up was almost a month ago, and yes, the wound is still fresh. I know it because, my test has always been, if I see him with another person would I feel hurt, and the answer to that is yes. So I know that I'm not ready to be friends with him yet.


TOV - I like your perspective on remaining friends with the ex, and I must admit that I do have the same view on it. I think that I could be friends with this one because friendship was the bedrock of the "relationship." We did start out as friends. Plus, he said that he was going to help with this one project idea I had in mind (for the community). Not sure though if I could still count on him for that, because I'm scared that if I approach him when I'm totally completely healed, that he might say that he doesn't have time for it, or he might have changed his mind. I'm scared of being rejected by him. I mean, I can be friends with him, and he said he can be friends with me as well (after a break), so I don't know....we'll see.

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I know it because, my test has always been, if I see him with another person would I feel hurt, and the answer to that is yes. So I know that I'm not ready to be friends with him yet.


That is, really, the litmus test. I find that, too. And it's funny, as I keep on my healing path, how I've noticed that sometimes I can feel neutral about him having someone new, but only recently, I "tested" that out (by checking a website I shouldn't) only "out of curiosity", and though there are no clear-cut indications there of his having someone in his life, some things would seem to suggest it...and I regressed into my feelings of abandonment and grief. I realized I shouldn't be so cavalier as to think that I can handle that information when I actually can't. Even when I am feeling "strong," until I have the cement of my vision of a life without him firmly solidfied, can I take such "chances."


Though I have to say, that the one ex I am very close to now, who dumped me, I never did completely put out of my life. It took 2 years of healing, but we stayed in touch. It was very hard, but I can say that sometimes (rarely) it can work without NC. But if you can pull back and stay back now, it is better for you, way better.


I think it sounds like you know your limits well, and have a good head on your shoulders about this. I understand completely about the project, and not wanting his rejection. Withhold future projections about that as much as you can, because when your head is in a different space about HIM, his "rejection" won't hurt you the way it would now. You and the project will be at a different juncture, and you will be able to accomplish it one way or another, with or without him, if it's something you really want to do, and it won't hinge on his being a collaborator that you need practically OR emotionally to succeed. Like you said, just put that on the back burner and wait to see how things evolve.


Just be really good to yourself now, you are doing well!

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^That is exactly how my ex felt.

As you say, I think most do.

(By the way, I never betrayed my ex, I was very loyal, but my alliances with others FELT like betrayal to him.)

Then either it was a betrayal of your relationship or he had issues about trust. Neither good.
The mindset of the person is key to whether they really care to keep caring.
caring is all very well, but there's a huge difference between lovers and just friends.


Funny, I felt betrayed by his feeling that friendship was a "downgrade", as to me it was the heart and soul of the relationship. But Zorba has used a good word to describe it. Just reading that bums me out all over again.
I'm genuinely sorry to bum you out but going from a shared future together as a loving couple with possible marriage, kids etc to a friendship is a massive downgrade. No ifs buts or maybes, it just is. OK friendship may be the heart and soul, but the the future together as a partnership, the intimacy, both in and outside the bedroom are the rest of the body. So the other person gets the heart and soul and loses the rest. No thanks very much. Going from that to "friendship" like going from a ferrari to walking. I've enough friends, I will only have one lover at a time. No real comparison.
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I understand what you are saying Zorba, but how do you just delete someone out of your life who you were SOO close to for so long. The one person who truly knows me inside and out, the one person i know more than anything in this world? I feel like i would be losing a part of me and a part of my life by deleting this person from it.

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I think it depends on the relationship - how long it was, how it ended, etc. My ex and I were extremely different. When we first broke up, we spoke a lot about how we couldn't really be friends because we were so different that we really had so little in common that a friendship would be difficult to maintain. Most of the time we spent together as a couple was sitting around watching TV and being romantic; now that the romanticism was gone, what else would be left to be friends with?


There is also so much history between us now in terms of our relationship that I think it would just be too painful to remain friends. Every time we've tried to be friends, one or the other of us admits that we still have feelings for each other, we talk about being a couple again, and it all falls to pieces. Additionally, with every possible reconciliation, he treated me worse and worse. And with every "break up," I wanted to remain friends. Many, many people said to me "Why would you want to be friends with someone who treats you like that, and can't even respect you?" The answer is that I can't. It's not fair to me.

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I understand what you are saying Zorba, but how do you just delete someone out of your life who you were SOO close to for so long.
I suppose precisely because they would have been so close. One can't pull back from that to "friendship" and not feel the loss. Personally I would rather cut them out completely. If I leave them, I would cut them out, simply because to ask for friendship, even if they thought that's what they wanted would be incredibly selfish of me as I would have the benefits without the responsibility and they may be left wondering if there was a chance. No way. If I love(d) someone, even if I didn't anymore, the least I could do is help them move on. It's good manners. If they leave me, well after the shock and the transition then I would prefer if they went away frankly. I'll galdly take the risk of not seeing them again, if it helps me to move on to someone who won't leave.
The one person who truly knows me inside and out, the one person i know more than anything in this world? I feel like i would be losing a part of me and a part of my life by deleting this person from it.
Fine, but what have you to gain by taking a lesser role? In any case you lose them at a very fundamental level when the split occurs. If there's no chance of a return to that well you've pretty much lost them fully. I


'm lucky I suppose in that I have a number of very close friends, male and female, so the loss of a potential one is not such a big deal. Certainly it's less of a risk than being in limbo for longer than I need to be, with someone where a fundamental difference of opinion has happened about how we go through the future together.


Maybe it's a male female difference in this as I have noticed that women are far more likely to ask to stay friends than men, when a relationship goes awry. It doesn't seem to matter who dumps whom so much either.

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You're right Zorba, might be a gender thing. Although, my ex was the one who offered friendship, and he's the guy. I know for sure that I can't be friends right now, but someday, I will.


I guess since things ended amicably that I can see myself being friends with him. It's not like he cheated on me, or abused me in any way, so, I know that friendship is possible. Now if the situation were like that, I don't think I'll ever be friends with him.


I think friendship can only be achieved if you've given both of yourselves some time apart. And yeap, I think it's common courtesy for the dumper to leave the dumpee for a while, until they've fully moved on, and no residual feelings are left. I know for a fact that my other ex-bf of 3 years - whom I broke up with - wanted me back. We did that whole "let's be friends still and hang out" for about 6 months after the break-up, but my heart was just not into getting back with him anymore. I mean, I still cared for him, I still enjoyed his company, but as far as feelings go, they were just gone. I could hang out with him for so many times, but the feelings just weren't there, sadly. But I knew deep down that he was still hoping that we would get back together. I care for him enough to not give him false hope, and so one day, I finally decided to tell him that we need to cut off the communication completely. I told him straight up that while I still have feelings for him, they're not enough to get back together. I told him I don't want him to wait for me, because I don't even know if it will ever come back. I know how much it hurt him, but I figure, he needs to know the truth in order for him to move on. I think about him still everyday, and once in a while, I get tempted to call, to hang out and do something, but I know it will give him hope, so I resist.

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