Is It Normal To Be Friends With Your Ex?

by Cay L. Crow

2 ducks swimming next to each other and one slightly behind

Is My Boyfriend Cheating On Me With His Ex?

Dear Cay: I am one of those lucky women with a wonderful husband named Dan. Here is the problem: Dan still socializes with one of his ex-girlfriends; they have lunch occasionally and talk on the phone. The three of us have gone out together and I really don't think there are residual feelings between them; they are just friends as Dan says. The problem is that my girlfriends think I am crazy to let Dan even talk to her; they think it is suspicious that he still wants to see her. My girlfriends think he is having an affair right under my nose. My heart tells me that I can trust him but my head wonders if I'm being naïve.

Signed, Faithfully Suspicious

Should I Be Jealous Of My Partner's Ex?

Dear Faithfully Suspicious: The fact that Dan is open about his relationship with his ex and that the three of you have socialized tells me that Dan is not hiding anything. Women are quite perceptive. Male behavior is pretty obvious; if there were feelings between your husband and his ex, I think you would know. If you are truly uncomfortable with Dan having lunch or talking with his ex, tell him how you feel. Don't accuse him but simply explain that your friends have left you wondering. Perhaps you need to be part of Dan's lunches with his ex occasionally to reassure yourself that your friends are wrong. Or better yet, invite one or two of your friends to one of these lunches so they can see what you already know. The fact that your friends think you shouldn't "let" Dan have a female friend concerns me for several reasons.

Do you have to get permission from Dan for a lunch meeting? Does Dan have to get permission from you? Are you relating to a parental figure or your spouse? Marriage does not mean controlling each other. That type of control is a sign of insecurity. Marriage means that you are individuals who choose to make a lifetime commitment. Marriage does not mean that you are joined at the hip and must do everything together. Relationships and marriage both require a delicate balance between intimacy and differentiation that is flexible, not rigid. Hopefully, once you marry, your spouse does become the most important person in your life, but it is unrealistic to expect that person to meet all your needs. Both men and women still need friends and family to be a part of their support system even after they marry. If you object to your spouse's friend, don't let it be on the basis of gender. Men and women can and do have platonic friendships. The misconception that platonic relationships are not possible between men and women is based on the sexual double standard and the assumption that sex is the only thing men and women have in common. Give Dan the benefit of the doubt and gently tell your jaded friends that you appreciate their concern but your heart knows your husband better than they do.

CAY L. CROW, LPC, AASECT-CERTIFIED SEX THERAPIST

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