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Friends with an ex who treated me cruelly?


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I fell in love with a man i'd been friends with for almost two years prior who was considerably older than I was. I had never been in a real relationship before at 23 years old (this was not for lack of attention but I went to a serious college and spent all of my time working and very little time socializing in addition to other factors), and fell head over heels. Things were so intense that we were practically living together for three months, when he pulled away quite suddenly. For the last month of our relationship - a three month one! - he gave me an extremely cruel version of the silent treatment that was absolutely punishing for me. It made ME silent - a quality I've never had - and the pain of keeping everything bottled up inside was excruciating. I would actually wake up crying. The day we broke up he actually watched me crying, and I saw he had sympathy in him, but he didn't say anything since he, admittedly, is absolutely terrible at breaking things off with people. I begged him to talk to me, he continued to ignore me, and finally forced ME to break up with him (a whole process that he wanted to prolong even more, even when he had said to me we wouldn't work)

Over the next few months we continued to hook up at random times, but it was extraordinarily painful (for the both of us, I knew this from mutual friends, social media, etc...) Finally about 5 months later we broke it off for good, I spiraled into terrible depression, and it's been a year since everything and, after some extreme fighting and angry emails, I've only recovered just now.


I got over him very suddenly. I realized that, while I still considered him good looking and interesting, I was not attracted to him at all anymore, just nervous around him. Finally, after running into each other a number of times, the nervousness dissipated. We decided to stay friends, which is something he told me he wanted from the beginning, in all earnestness - it wasn't just one of those things he was saying to get me out of his hair. So we've hung out a couple of times, and it hasn't been awkward at all. It actually feels like I was in love with someone entirely different. I also am a bit more sympathetic to his situation, and some alcohol and substance abuse problems he has had that he feels make him ill equipped for any type of relationship, especially as someone already in middle age.


However, sometimes I remember how he treated me, and i get resentful - sometimes to the point of tears. I don't want him back, I am fine with him 95% of the time, but occasionally I remember the physical pain... While I know the pain is normal, I lived with it for an excruciating month until I was the one who had to break it off. I am barely angry at him since I know his situation, I don't want any type of romantic relationship with him which makes it easy for me to hang out with him, and we still have plenty in common and wonderful conversations (better than we did while together), but occasionally he'll criticize how I acted in the relationship and some anger will rumble inside me, and I'll start blaming him. He's only sort of conceded that he treated me badly once, begrudgingly, by saying he didn't mean to be "rude," and acknowledging his personal problems as a source of weakness.


In addition, the whole painful experience has made me want to turn my back on dating... I've become extremely antisocial. The fact that it took so long for me to fall in love, and my one experience was brief and more painful than wonderful (although the feelings were quite intense, for about a year anyways), has made me just want to be alone.


I want to be friends with him. I understand his motivations. Again, I am totally comfortable talking with him and hanging out... he is one of my few close friends. It actually feels comfortable hanging out with him, and I can see clearly why together we would never work. I often pity him for his personal and emotional problems, which he is entirely aware of and which is probably the reason he broke it off. I am totally fine with the idea of him dating again.


I just wonder if resentment is something I can overcome, or at least put on a low simmer. I wonder if this whole thing is a good idea.


and I think I know what you all are going to say...

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We need to surround ourselves with people who bring us joy, build us up, provide support. And you can judge the 'worthiness' of a relationship by its affect on you.


Your relationship with this man has done nothign but tear you down. You don't need to stay friends with someone just because you once spent time with them or had a short relationship with them. I think you would be far better off finding friends near you own age, who have a lot less baggage than he does. He obviously has problems, which he needs to take to a substance abuse counselor or therapist, and it is not your job to spend time with him or 'fix' him.


There might come a time when he's really bored or lonely or horny and sucks you back into a tumultuous and painful FWB situation, and that just isn't good for you. I'd just let this one go, let it taper off naturally over time. It sounds like you're having to do too much work to keep it going, and it isn't making you happy or healthy, so best to let it go entirely.

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Once again lavenderdove is on point, and I agree fully. Relationships with people should be generally positive influences.

I think it'll do both of you a lot of good to let this one go. Even a couple who had a good relationship and broke up can't necessarily or don't want to retain a friendship afterwards; especially for the reasons you've stated.

You being friends with him almost nullifies and justifies his treating you poorly; it makes it "acceptable" to treat you like that, put you down and feel little to no remorse. (IMO, people who justify their actions aren't truly remorseful)

Him being friends with you creates tension, and resentment - both of which aren't things you should feel in a healthy friendship.


For two people who had such fire between them, good and bad - a friendship is difficult to salvage... especially when one hasn't changed, and doesn't show any promise of it.


I think you'd be happier without him in your life completely.

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The thing is, I DO like him, and before we had this relationship we had an extremely nice friendship. He's made it clear he wants me in his life, and it's because of this that I kind of appreciate him wanting to be friends... I hear so much about exes just saying that, but the fact that he actually means it says something.


It's very clear to me that he will not change - people his age are usually set in their ways, and I don't really care at this point. If he even suggested becoming friends with benefits, I would reject him off the bat. There is no tension here anymore, it is out of our system.


And, deep down, I feel like he must know he treated me badly. He doesn't say it.but things about his actions and character betray it. But even if he didn't since I have very little personal stake in him romantivally, I can brush off his * * * * * * * behavior and just focus and thie nice, similoar things that we have (things I haven't been able to find with people my own age a lot of the time, unfortunately)

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Are you still pitying his situation and wanting to help him? Maybe not fix him, but help him by being friends because a part of you still cares inside?


Question is, is it worth it? Are you getting something out of this friendship?

If you want to remain friends, you cannot have such resentment in your heart - it will nibble at your heart and just add unneeded negativity, if not tear you up inside someday.

Understanding where someone's come from and their problems isn't the same as fully forgiving someone.

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My ex and I have a ton in common. I have never met anyone who shared my styles and tastes. While he is severely lacking in qualities that I believe will be extremely important to me in the long run, he has still had a life that I am fascinated by, and the best taste of anyone I know.

Talking with him is pretty much effortless, we have the same opinions, and this is something I've desperately wanted throughout my very lonely life.


He cannot provide what I need him to provide, but he has always had qualities that I wanted, and that, for many reasons, I've never had - and never will have. This is not to say I would or could be in love with him, but I don't think I will meet a lot of people with similar tastes and interests as we have (and I've met a considerable amount of people in my short life)

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i get wanting to be friends and i get that you feel 'genuine' friendship for him. that is nice and totally achievable in the long run .....but.....i wonder is it too early?


a year is not a very long time when considering that you had your heart broken and he treated you quite bad at the end and most importantly he doesn't own up to his part in the breakup. feeling the resentment that you feel is normal in my opinion. i think in time it will go. bear in mind i am basing this on your word that your intimate feelings for him are gone and that you are not fooling yourself. to get over the resentment i suggest reminding yourself over and over again that he has issues that made him act and communicate in this way with you. they are HIS issues, not yours and they aren't your fault. maybe you can help him see this when he is in his next relationship..... and also, can you handle that?

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