The Ex Factor…

Lately there’s been a whole lot of breaking up going on around me.  I can’t lie, part of me is happy for them.  I know you think I’m crazy, but break ups happen for a reason.  Sometimes they are a very long time coming.  While there is grief and sadness surrounding a breakup, it can bring a sense of relief.  Breakups, contrary to popular belief, can be a good thing.

I’ve discussed the topic at length with some of my friends recently.  Sometimes couple’s just don’t function, and everyone but them see’s it.  Sometimes the balance in the relationship is shifted too far in one partner’s direction.  Sometimes they are truly toxic for each other.  They destroy each other’s lives in a twisted attempt to stay together.  I’m guessing some of you can think of a few examples.

In the wake of this you are left a bystander, dealing with the ex factor.  What are the boundaries when it comes to ex’s?  Can you remain friends with a friend’s ex?  What happens if you like the ex, better than the friend?

Once you get your alliances in order comes the decision, how much can you say?  Can you say you’ve hated them since they started dating?  Can you say that you believe they are toxic for each other?   Can you say that one partner gave too much to the relationship, while the other coasted along?

First of all, give it time.  Once a couple breaks up, there is still the chance of reconciliation.  If you say too much too soon, you run the risk of alienating both your friend and their significant other.

The answer comes down to how well do you know them?  If you know they will take the information in stride, go for it.  If you know they will be hurt by it, sometimes it’s best to keep it in.

But what happens when the couple gets back together?  If you’ve said too much, you might be mourning the loss of a friend.  If you haven’t said enough, will you be regretting that decision?

When it comes to friendships and their relationships, you have to walk that fine line.  Always remind yourself who your alliances are with.  Sometimes you might wind up keeping a friend after a breakup.  (Ask Mr. Right who’s buddy is the childhood best friend of his ex.)  Sometimes you can’t stand to be with that friend when they are with the ex-now-significant other again.  Sometimes you need to stick your neck out and say what you mean, even if it means hurting their feelings.  Before you make your decision to speak up, decide if they meet the proper criteria.

1-      Are you worried about the safety of your friend?  Do you feel that this person may be physically abusive?

2-      Are they closing themselves off to the outside world?  Tread carefully here.  However if you notice your friend and their significant other alienating themselves from the rest of the world, this can be a red flag to abuse coming later on.  Abusers usually woo their significant others in order to lure them in, meanwhile they are also alienating them from those around them.

3-      Do you fear for the mental health of your friend?  Are they losing their self identity being with this person?  Are they giving up who they are to be in the confines of a relationship?

And what if your friend doesn’t meet the above criteria?  It’s time to grin and bear it friends.  That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage guys nights or girls nights, or to do things without significant others.  It means that you aren’t in a position to cross your friend boundaries and sound like a parent.