Can You Be Friends With Your Ex?

Q: Can you be friends with your ex?

There are two schools of thought on this.

One is of course you can! You’re two mature people who care about each other and your lives are richer for having the other person in them, and the time you shared together in the past is a precious touchstone that you want to share!

The second is of course you can’t, because men only want to be your friend in case they can sleep with you again, and that women only want to be your friend in case they need a backup plan for their current relationship, or need someone to make a new guy jealous, or to take to a wedding. This is the one that has a dimmer view of human nature. However, this is the one that seems to be more consistently true.

My experience was, when I got married, I lost all of my male friends. Either they backed off out of a desire to be respectful of my spouse and my marriage, or else they were a bunch of dudes who were hanging out in case I wanted to have sex with them at some point. Sometimes, “let’s be friends” is code for “Let’s see if I can get in your good graces through funtimes and beers.”
This is sad and unpleasant to think about. Are people of the opposite sex only worthwhile as romantic partners? Am I not fun to hang out with in public? Are women friends inferior to guy friends?

It might come down to, it’s a busy world. We’re all working, we’re pursuing our dreams, and we have limited free time for the friends we already have, so am I really going to make time to grab lunch with a sysadmin with a foot fetish that I didn’t click with? I’d rather spend that time with old friends or with potential new partners. If you’re not the right one for me, then let’s both move on.
When I’m friends with exes: I find that they have way more time for me if they’re single, and if they’re not single, I wind up being better friends with their girlfriends or wives, and they kind of recede into the background.

I think there are mitigating factors like, how long did you date? If you went on three tinder dates with someone, “Let’s be friends” is my favorite code for “Let’s never see each other again!”

Q: Can you be friends with your ex when you’re seeing someone else?

That depends. Is your ex a mature person?

If they’re not, they might be jealous or weird around your new guy.

Alternately, if you are committed to a new relationship, it might be better not to keep an ex around. Try to take a breath and look at your motivations. Are you still interested in your ex? Are you putting your best foot forward with your current? Keeping a string of old guys around smacks of commitment problems. Again, if your ex is from high school and you’ve known him almost as long as your siblings, that’s different- but if you’re getting brats and beers with your last serious relationship, it might give your current guy pause.  In the past, I always pursued friendships with my exes because I thought that was a mark of adulthood- but it might be even more grown up to let them move on with their lives.

Q: Can your friend be friends with your ex?

This is even subtler. If we’re assuming that friendship is code for “maybe bang”, I’d rather not. Friends dating our exes can be more hurtful than the breakup was in the first place. If you’d like to stay friends with a good girlfriend’s ex, proceed with caution and ask her beforehand. She might have important information that you weren’t privy to, that the guy in question was abusive, was a drunk, or was untrustworthy. Talking to her could save both of you a lot of trouble.

If you’re wondering, “Am I good enough friends with this woman that it should keep me from hanging out with Chad?” just ask yourself “would I be comfortable if she never spoke to me again?” If you are, it’s fine to be friends with her ex!

If You Have Broken Up with Your Partner, Can You Get Those Feelings Back?

Is it really over?

Good news: You can rekindle love.

Researchers call it “love regulation.” A new study by psychologists at the University of Missouri—St. Louis and Erasmus University Rotterdam found that people can use thoughts to increase how much they love someone. People can also willfully decrease love, say after a breakup.

In the study, published in August in the journal PLOS One, 40 participants—half of whom were in a romantic relationship and half of whom had recently broken up with a partner—each brought 30 pictures of their beloved into a lab. First, they were instructed to look at the pictures while thinking positive thoughts about their partner, the relationship and their future together. Then, they were instructed to look at the pictures again and think negative thoughts about their partner, the relationship and their future.

Before they started and after each task, the participants were asked how attached to and infatuated with their partner they felt. Researchers also measured their brain waves, homing in on the Late Positive Potential Brainwave, which becomes stronger when people focus on something they find emotionally relevant.

When the participants had positive thoughts while looking at the pictures, they were able to “up regulate” their love—they reported feeling more attached to their partner, the researchers found. And their LPP Brainwave was stronger. When the participants had negative thoughts they “down regulated” their love, reporting less attachment and infatuation. The people in a relationship also had weaker LPP Brainwaves.

“People think they can’t control love so they might not even try,” says Sandra Langeslag, lead researcher on the study and assistant professor in the department of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. “But this study shows you that you can.”

Psychologists are mixed on whether love is an emotion. Like emotions, it is complex and produces physiological and psychological changes. But it isn’t fleeting and doesn’t have a clear trigger as do anger or joy. Love may be more like a mixture of other feelings, some say.

People often feel like love is something that happens to them rather than something they can influence. It is true we can’t control love, as “control implies suppressing it and being king or queen of it,” says Susan David, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of “Emotional Agility.” But we can, and do, shape and manage our emotions every day, and love is no different, Dr. David says.

Love in Control

To regulate love, we need to use cognitive and behavioral tactics early and often:

    • Think positive thoughts.Focus on what you like about your partner and the relationship. Imagine happy future scenarios, such as dancing at your child’s wedding. And write these things down. Research shows that people who write about loving their partner improve their relationship.
    • Make small tweaks.Hug goodbye in the morning; greet your partner warmly when you come home; listen when he or she talks. Engaging with your partner is an antidote to apathy and complacency, which kill love.
    • Smile at your partner.Smiling produces neural messaging in your brain that makes you happier. Some studies have shown that when we smile our facial muscles contract, which slightly distorts the shape of the thin facial bones. This leads to an increase in blood flow into the frontal lobes of the brain and the release of the feel-good chemical dopamine. And when we smile at someone, that person tends to smile back. So we’ve created a feel-good loop.
    • Have sex.Even if neither of you really feels like it, advises Nando Pelusi, a clinical psychologist in New York. It too releases feel-good chemicals in the brain, including oxytocin, the bonding hormone. You can actually be more attracted and attractive to your partner after sex.
  • Broaden your perspective.You see your partner a certain way. But how do others see him or her? Psychologists employ an “empty chair” exercise to help clients imagine having a conversation with another person. Envision your partner’s best friend or mother sitting in a chair across from you. What would that person say your partner’s best qualities are? Why does he or she love your partner? “We get consumed by focusing on what someone didn’t do, by the qualities a person lacks,” says Dr. David. “This helps us flip the focus.”
  • Let it go.We all have the proverbial sock on the floor—the seemingly small thing our partner does that comes to represent everything wrong in the relationship. Dr. David suggests reminding yourself it is just a sock. Try to pick it up without resentment. This applies to any pet peeve you have about your partner. Your spouse didn’t leave the sock on the floor because he doesn’t love you. He’s just messy. “If he ever weren’t alive, you’d do anything to have that sock back on the floor,” Dr. David says. Remember that.
  • Try new things together. Research shows that when romantic partners try something new together they feel more attracted to each other. So explore a new part of town or take up a new hobby jointly. Bonus tip: The more exciting the new thing is—the more adrenaline producing—the more attracted you will be.
  • Ask questions. When people first meet, they talk nonstop. And researchers have learned they can foster intimacy, and even love, between two strangers simply by having them answer a set of questions that gradually become more intimate. Start talking about your hopes and dreams again. Ask each other what you’d each eat for a last meal, where you want to go before you die, what time of life were you happiest.

Curated by Timothy
Original Article

Good Times to Connect With Your Ex

Even if you parted ways on good terms, the idea of being friends with an ex is, well, weird.

This is a person with whom you were intimate with in ways most people will never be with you and, if you were in love, it’s a loss. Breakups, no matter how they ended, are never easy.

The problem with breaking up with someone is that you’re not just losing your partner, but your best friend. Personally, I’ve been able to move on easier from the idea of losing my partner than I am able to move on from losing my best friend. You go from having someone on who you can rely constantly, for the good and the bad, then they’re gone. And while you have other friends with whom you can share things, there’s a void if you can’t just call up your ex and share something with them. I can’t even tell you how often I pick up the phone to call my ex to tell him something, then I have to stop myself and say out loud, “Oh yeah. We’re never talking again.”

But, time heals all wounds, as they say, or at least some of them. Since that’s a possibility, there’s a strong likelihood that you just might want to talk to your ex again — maybe even pick up the friendship part of your relationship. But, before you do that, you need to get in the right mind set first. Here’s when it’s probably OK to start talking to an ex again:

1. When You’re No Longer Madly In Love With Them

This one can be tricky. You may miss them romantically, but you also may miss them as a friend. It’s not always clear exactly what you miss about them, but it’s important to determine whether these feelings are intensely romantic or not. Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for emotional pain.