Never fear, I am here to dispel the rumors. Yes, you can be friends with your ex. Really good friends, actually. Maybe even the best. I'm sure you're rolling your eyes and thinking that this was an amicable breakup and that things just didn't work out because there weren't the right feelings or something really simple like that. The answer is absolutely not.
There were feelings — strong ones, but not the elusive love — and there was hurt. A lot of hurt. And, not only did both sides get hurt, but an innocent bystander to this whole relationship also got hurt. Probably way more hurt than the both of us. So, needless to say, it was messy.
I thought I would never hear from him again, let alone see him. But one night in July — after I had just met the man who would become my next boyfriend — there he was, on my phone screen, just saying "hello." My desire to tell him how amazing my life was without him was what actually compelled me to respond, but his apology for our unraveling was what kept me responding.
We started to rebuild our relationship, and during the last year and a half, we have regained each other's trust. There is a "good morning" text on my phone every morning and some form of a goodnight text every night. We talk throughout the day about everything under the sun and we still haven't gotten bored of each other.
Not only that, but he is usually the first person to hear about major things in my life. He was the first person I told about my recent promotion at work. He has given me relationship advice. Job advice. Friendship advice. I cried in his arms after my most recent (and saddest ever) breakup. I have a small, but annoying, medical issue and he's the only one who knows if I'm in pain or when I have to have a procedure done. He even comes shopping with me — if not in person, virtually — and gives me pretty honest advice about what to get.
We value what we bring to one another's lives.
And he's thoughtful. I travel a lot and he always wishes me a safe flight and we have a clear check-in plan for when I land. That's huge for me. I almost ended a relationship over that. One month, when I was trying to save some money, he went totally out of his way (like, miles out of his way) to grab me a SoulCycle gift card and surprise me with it so I wouldn't have to give it up on my budget.
And yes, we see each other too. We go to dinner pretty regularly. He taught me how to play chess ("because you overthink everything and you will be good at it," he said), and we even started a Netflix series together — that's commitment!
It's not like there isn't an attraction; there is. I mean, hello, we slept together! But it's manageable now. For a long time, I was in a relationship with a man I was head over heels for (I still am) and he was extra respectful of that. But now that I'm free to do what I want with whom I want, I'm not sure about going down that path again. We came to the conclusion more than a year ago that a relationship with us would never work long-term and, to be honest, I'm not sure our friendship is worth messing up.
I don't know exactly how and when he became my best friend. It just kind of happened. He's my go-to. The person who tells me how it is. And I feel like I am that person for him, even though he is so much stronger and smarter than I am and needs me less for serious stuff and more for comic relief. It's funny because we were definitely not the best people when we dated, but we have both changed from our experience together. Now, we are the best kind of people to each other. We value what we bring to one another's lives and have been able to get beyond the hurt because, well, we need and appreciate each other.
So, my advice? You never know who in this life will wind up knowing you better than you know yourself. You never know who will return to you after you thought they were long gone. Keep your heart open. It might be closing one door with one person, while opening another door to a whole new (and maybe better) type of relationship with them.