Community//

Friends with the Ex

Using compassion and friendship as alternatives.

It all came crashing down. There were tears, sleepless nights, feeling lost and confused about who I was now that my life had turned upside down. I remember sleeping on the couch for a few nights because I couldn’t get myself to my bedroom. On some nights, I couldn’t care if I ate dinner or brushed my teeth because the reality of suddenly not being married hit me like a ton of bricks.

What most people don’t know is it takes a lot of courage to initiate a separation because you know within you that this is dead and that you’re unhappy. There is this myth that if you’re initiating the split then it couldn’t hurt but that is far from the truth. Ending a relationship hurts and breaks your heart because this very person was your world and now you have to not just tell them the hard truth that will hurt him / her but you also have to accept that both your lives will change going forward.


When a person decides to end a relationship or marriage, there is a lot that goes on before coming to that decision (speaking from my perspective). When someone like me decided to end my marriage, I never wanted to be divorced, I loved the idea of being married and being someone’s wife. But more than anything, I wanted to feel loved, to enjoy good moments and be together when things got hard. Sadly, while he is a good man, he didn’t know how to make me feel loved. We rarely celebrated any good moments, whether it was our birthdays, having date nights, anniversaries etc. all of these came and went like it was just another day. We had years of very traumatic experiences that it was like living a life of suffering.

Today in hindsight, I feel happier and stronger because whilst it was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do, I was true to myself. In the process, my ex and I are and have always been very kind to each other and we’re there for each other even if we didn’t work as a couple.

A few days ago, he shared with me an amazing news, that he was offered a great job in China. I was over the moon for him. Knowing how much he wanted this break meant a lot to me so we went out for a nice meal and celebrated! As we were enjoying our spaghetti alio olio, he said, he knows that I’ve given 85% to this marriage while he’s given only 15% and that he landed a great job because of me. I was choked hearing that. To be acknowledged of everything that I had sacrificed warmed up my heart. 

The fact that he felt comfortable enough to not just share this news with but also celebrate with me says a lot about us as individuals. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that when a couple ends a relationship, that’s that and you shouldn’t remain friends because you need time to get over things. That is a valid point but I do feel that not everyone heals the same way. The ‘no contact’ approach, which seems to be the golden rule for many break ups, doesn’t apply to everyone.

Let me explain why I think ‘no contact’ doesn’t work for all. I remember when I was in a relationship with a guy in my 20s and when he dumped me, I was devastated. But what hurt me more was that I suddenly lost him as a friend as well. I lost my boyfriend and friend. The coldness and brutality of how things ended has made me question if we have to be so heartless in our dumping. It makes one question if any of it was real. How does one person who was initially caring change to suddenly not have any compassion especially when compassion is most needed?

My rule is, be kind and loving even when it is hard. But also be clear on what that means. So while I’m friends with my ex, I have made it crystal clear that I’ve moved on and we as a couple are done. But I also added that, “I’d like for us to be friends because you still mean a lot.” When this is said with that level of clarity, I believe it sends the right message. Now if someone chooses to misinterpret what you say then that’s not your responsibility. We are only responsible for our actions and intention. The person of course can choose not to be friends but the door is open for them to reflect on where they are at in their minds and hearts.

So for those of you out there struggling in a relationship and feel like you need to end things, I’d say use compassion and offer friendship if you’re ready for it as alternatives and you might see a huge difference in how it all goes down.

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