Developing a friendship with an ex can be a rather difficult feat. You no longer have the ability to pick and choose what you reveal about yourself during the development of the friendship, and you have all sorts of emotional baggage and history that needs to be overcome in order for trust to be rebuilt.
However, like many things in life that take time and commitment, and require that you extend yourself beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone, the results can be enormously rewarding. Rewarding? Being friends with my ex? No way! Actually, ‘yes way’. Don’t believe us….? Try the experts.
Judith Ruskay Rabinor is a clinical psychologist and author of the book: Befriending your Ex after divorce – making life better for you, your kids, and yes, your ex. According to Rabinor, when you are co parenting with your ex, one of the best ways to be truly successful is to create a new relationship on new terms.
After all, your ex is one of the few people who is likely to be as invested in the well-being and happiness of your children as you are. “Your ex is your ally.” says Rabinor, and it really does make sense. However, while it’s easy to say that sort of thing, the hard part is getting yourself to believe it.
Having just come through divorce, the majority of people are still processing their emotions and working through the issues that caused the marriage to fail in the first place. Making friends with someone who was unfaithful to you, or left you for a younger partner can be a bitter task. Caring about the wellbeing of someone who lied to you, or spent years as an emotional stranger is extremely hard.
Pursuing a friendship with your ex can be very hard, especially if the divorce was adversarial.
In addition, we live in a culture that promotes the concept of treating one’s ex poorly because they “deserve” it. According to Rabinor, the current culture “validates exes being mean to each other” by publicizing celebrity break-ups where the couples become involved in highly dramatic battles for their children and assets.
Rabinor, however, wants to be a part of the counterculture. A new movement of parents who acknowledge that it isn’t divorce that’s harmful, but rather it’s the parent’s who put their own selfishness and greed before the needs of their children, who do the real harm.
So while it would be foolishness to assume that a new friendship can be created overnight, or that the process won’t be riddled with obstacles while you work to rebuild trust, the truth is that if a respectful relationship with your ex is at all possible, then you would do well to pursue it.
Impossible! you say, and well….it may feel like that at first. But Rabinor believes very strongly that it is possible. When you are able to put aside your past hurts in favor of pursuing a friendship with your ex, she says, you will make everyone’s life better – your children’s, your own, and yes, even your ex’s!
We wouldn’t be attorneys if we let you go without one last reminder – being friends with your ex doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be Facebook friends. As Brandy Thompson always tells her clients, “I’m always VERY careful about social media during a divorce or any type of court proceeding.” Which may seem like over-cautiousness to you, but you wouldn’t believe the types of things that can affect the outcome of a divorce. So if you choose to maintain a social media presence, be very careful about what you post!