Is it possible to truly be friends with an ex? One woman on Fairygodboss thinks so — but her husband does not. She wrote into the FGB Community to ask about ex-boyfriend etiquette.
She went on to elaborate on the situation, explaining that she and her ex have been friends for years now, have mutual friends in common, and see each other at events. Her husband has even met him. Recently, her ex has been going through a difficult time, and she wants to be there for him.
“It made me realize that I want to be this kind of friend to him. I think we've demonstrated that our personal, non-romantic connection stands the test of time, so I feel qualified and almost compelled to try to support him. In general, I want to reconnect in a more substantial way. We made plans to meet up one-on-one,” she wrote.
Other FGB'ers responded to the woman's post to offer advice and share similar situations they've been in. Ultimately, four key pieces of advice emerged.
We agree. It is definitely possible to be friends with an ex, although the friendship will most likely be more complicated than most. While it's natural to want to be there for a friend, a partner's feelings are also deserving of respect. We agree with this commenter, who suggests being open about conversations with any ex. Being transparent will reassure an S.O. that there's nothing to hide, and hopefully a scenario can be arrived at in which no one is left feeling uncomfortable.
Another FGB’er reached out to say she was in a similar situation, but with the roles reversed. If you do end up meeting with your ex, she said, you should set expectations for the meet-up. There's no need to be accusatory and make the person feel like you suspect them of having ulterior motives, but you can ensure no boundaries will be crossed by setting them in the first place. And your S.O. can even help you draft the boundaries, which can alleviate some of the stress they may be experiencing.
While it's important for one's partner feel comfortable with the situation, it is also imperative to stress the trust they already have in you. Even if an ex ends up having problematic motives behind a meet-up, that doesn't mean you do, as this FGB'er pointed out. In this case, the poster is happily married and simply a compassionate person who wishes to help those she cares about. And there is nothing wrong with that. It's best that she choose a casual, non-date-y location to meet for this, like a coffee shop in the daytime and not a candlelit dinner. Keeping the conversation on her ex's situation and not on shared history, as other FGB'ers pointed out, is also wise. And, as mentioned before, so is setting expectations beforehand. Keeping a spouse in-the-know and making sure everyone involved is aware of the goal of the meet-up and its true purpose are crucial.
Lastly, the poster should make sure she never feels as though boundaries have been crossed. Safety and comfort level are the most important factors in this of all, and any ex should be respectful of both.
Have a relationship (or career, or general life) question you'd love some feedback on? Post it in the Fairygodboss Community to receive advice from FGB women everywhere.