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Platonic friendship with Ex, is it even possible?

Tagged as: Friends, The ex-factor, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (7 October 2012) 5 Answers - (Newest, 8 October 2012)
A female United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

Hi everyone. So i was wondering if anyone has been in or knows of someone who has been in my situation for some advice.

My ex and i have 2 wonderful sons, we drifted apart after 9 years together, we were childhood sweethearts and were together from 16 but we just grew up and grew apart, and both moved on into different relationships. I went onto to have a daughter by my new partner but after 5 years i ended that as he was violent and i could no longer endanger myself or my new baby. He had a few shorter term relationships but was more happy to play the field and concentrate on his career.

My first ex and i always maintained good contact for the sake of the boys and we get on great, he and my best friend were the lifeline of my abusive relationship and when they found out how bad it was they were the ones who got womans aid and the police involved and gave me the support. he has since more or less adopted my little baby as his own since her own father does not want to see her as he believes that no child should go without a dad. I have sort of went along with this even though it is a little weird as the boys and her all love him to bits.

Over the dreadful English summer myself and my ex have got much closer and we are bringing the children up as a family. I see things between my ex and i as purely platonic as it has been for the guts of 6 years, he is my best friend and we do spend a lot of time together and our social group is all the same. Obviously this is great for the boys. As i have always been really open about my feelings towards my ex ie i dont see him as anything other than a friend (i thought thats how he felt to :(, we do not and have not slept together since we split, we help each other out with woman/man problems and he looks after the children if i date (or attempt too, i seem to run away at the first sniff of interest lol) and vice versa and laugh over all the disasters.

the problem arose a few weeks ago when he admitted to me that he has fallen back in love with me recently.

I feel a bit sad about this as i feel like our friendship is doomed. i do love him but not like that. :( he is an extremely attractive, successful man, he's 34. He has a lot of woman interested in him and ive always been happy to encourage or discourage when he asks advice. He has made it clear he understand my feelings are not the same and he is not gloomy about this he seems ok and light-hearted about the whole thing.

I dont know what to do, i obviously dont want to lead him on (i have explained my position) I dont want this to impact the children, which so far it is not. I care an awful lot about him and admittedly it would be wonderful if we could relight the fire and be together, and its crazy because he is such a wonderful, supportive, attractive man and the rest of our friends seem to think were mad not to be together.

Not sure how to go about dealing with this situation without anyone getting hurt, i have distanced myself a bit which is making me feel a bit sad, my little one has started calling him daddy, probably from hearing the boys and i dont know what to do about this. Her dad has not been in contact for a year and doesnt want to see her so i dont know what to do. Very confused... :( Anyone help?

View related questions: best friend, my ex, violent

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A female reader, Foot-In-My-Mouth India +, writes (8 October 2012):

Foot-In-My-Mouth agony auntWhy did you break up with him many years ago? Do you love him even a bit, in the romantic sense?

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A female reader, BondGirl72 United States +, writes (7 October 2012):

BondGirl72 agony auntHere is the question you are asking. Is it possible to maintain a *friendship* with my ex when he is in love with me?

Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? I am not trying to be rude, I am just trying to get you to see the reality of your situation.

If one partner is in love...he is likely going to continue to be in love with you. He will continue to hope that you will, at some point, fall back in love with him. Everytime you are nice to him, everytime you communicate with him, everytime there is any kind of positive experience with you, he will continue to think there is hope.

I would stick with focusing on the kids and keep your distance. If you find yourself thinking too much about the situation, you probably need to find a hobby or something to direct your attention in another direction.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (7 October 2012):

Honeypie agony auntI think it is possible, as long as you are ABLE to accept that he is NOW a "friend" and "ex" and that you BOTH are entitled to a "new" life but still being able to be civil and friendly is a good thing.

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A female reader, janniepeg Canada + , writes (7 October 2012):

janniepeg agony auntIt's very hard because you know him for so many years and even if he didn't admit his feelings for you, you would have felt them anyway. You must have strong reasons for breaking up and it is easy to get carried away with sweet words and remembering the good times but you must remember why you broke up. It still helps if he can keep his feelings to himself. Your part will be insisting that you two will have no future together. You should also keep your new romantic interests to yourself. When you drop children off it's because you share half custody. In general it feel platonic friendship with exes are hard because your new partners want to feel that they are the priority and that they are the ones you confide in, and not your exes. I feel platonic friendships are possible, but only for the minority, or the mature ones whose sexual drive has declined so much that they can focus on more spiritual things, over the human drive to desire and possess.

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A male reader, no nonsense Aidan United Kingdom + , writes (7 October 2012):

It’s great that you’ve been able to maintain such a good relationship with your ex, it is certainly possible for exes to remain good friends and have a strong platonic relationship. Indeed it would be wonderful if more parents could try and achieve the kind of civility that exists with you both if nothing else for the sake of the children. It’s clear however that in your case, it’s not platonic on both sides as he obviously has feelings for you still, but you’ve done the right thing in gently explaining that you don’t feel the same. You don’t have to lose your friendship though. IT might be good to keep a bit of distance for his sake, but that could be something as simple as waiting to catch up until you meet up anyway for example to hand over the children, rather than going out of your way to contact each other. It doesn’t mean you care any less for each other.

As for your daughter, it’s completely understandable that she has come to consider this man her father as he has been the constant father figure in her life. Perhaps you could talk together about how you will tell her the truth about her paternity when she’s a bit older, but if she’s very young it might just confuse her if she’s discouraged from referring to this man as her father, especially if you can’t introduce her to her true daddy. This is something for the future, I’d say.

I wish you all the very best.

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