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Making the change from love to friendship

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Old 04-07-2010, 01:08 AM   #1
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Default Making the change from love to friendship

I am thinking that there is probably at least one other person on this board who has gone through the change of being in a relationship with a person to just being their friend.

Most of my relationships did not end well (they usually were jerks or something weird) so, I was not overly interested in maintaining a friendship. My recent ex is a very good man, and we are maintaining the bond we have as friends.

How does one make the transition? At times I feel like it bothers him if I use a nick name we used when we were together, or if I mention the word love. I tell my friends that I love them, but I worry that it may make him uncomfortable.

How have you made the transition from being lovers to being friends? How do you also deal with the loneliness at times?
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:29 AM   #2
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I've never had it work. I've never seen it work, except in one instance that was a bit of a Will and Grace story (in the show Will and grace date in college and he realizes he's gay during the relationship). In college I had a housemate with a similar story (except she and the boy were high school sweethearts and had never gone beyond heavy petting. He discovered or admitted that he was gay before they went off to college).

Oh, and I had one coworker who claimed to still be bet friends with her ex-husband (but it was very obvious that he wanted her back, and she kind of knew it).

I think it can work, but only if you really do have no interest in rekindling the relationship (and the same is true for him). It is probably very important that you not use the pet names or use the word "love" even if you do use it with other friends. It has a very different meaning for people who have been intimate - it just does.

I only tried it once and it was miserable. We thought it would be great, because if we didn't have a date, we could still do stuff together as a "platonic couple." The problem with that is that it's easy to get lazy and because you have a "back-up date" there's not as much motivation to find someone else (because even for men, at least the ones I've dated, having something to do on a Friday night trumps having someone to have sex with). And other people still see you as "sort of" a couple.

When you've broken up with someone, you're going to deal with loneliness regardless of whether you're still friends and regardless of how many friends of either gender you have. The mourning process is almost always part of the breakup process (unless you were never that into the person in the first place).
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Old 04-07-2010, 02:46 AM   #3
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I agree with Kaplods. My best friend has remained friends with her ex. They talk almost everyday and go out to dinner a couple times a month. The thing she doesn't realize is how she alienates other men without even realizing it.

She has a fall-back, so even though she says she wants to date someone, we all can see how she puts her "best guy friend" first. They dated for 4 years and have been broken up, but "friends" for 3 years. This has been going on for 3 years...

One other thing to consider is that when you do get in a new relationship, this friendship will most likely have to end. You can't expect a new guy to be comfortable with you hanging out and saying i love you to someone you used to be romantic with.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:18 AM   #4
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I tried to remain friends with my ex but I found that I really couldn't move on in doing that. We emailed once every few months for a while but I couldn't do constant contact.
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:32 AM   #5
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An extended break without any contact to let the embers die would work best for me. I am "facebook-level" friends with a couple of my exes, but both relationships ended over 10 years ago. I have a pleasant fondness for both of them, but I don't love them anymore. I can comment on pictures of their cute families and laugh at their status updates and I am happy we are in contact again, but they are just small bits of my past and no part of my present.

If you are still calling your ex your special pet name and still telling him you love him, that doesn't sound like a break-up, more like "on a break." (/salute Friends).
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Old 04-07-2010, 09:32 AM   #6
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I'm with Glory. I'd take a break and have no contact to bring closure to the lover phase first. Then we could see about renewing a friend thing.

If you made a new friend today you wouldn't call them things like "honey bunny" or tell them you love them. If it isn't appropriate to a new friend stranger, it isn't any more appropriate for a new friend ex just because you have some history.

It is no different here. You had a friendship. It ended when you became lovers. You were lovers. It ended. And now you are thinking about making friends again. This is not "going back to being friends." That phase ended!

This is "making friends anew." A brand new relationship that has to be defined.

"Arms distance and go slow" seems to be the best one can do. It would take pretty exceptional people to do it closer than that and NOT need a contact break otherwise you keep the boundaries blurred and that's no good.

Things you used to know as lovers aren't your business any more.

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Old 04-07-2010, 11:58 AM   #7
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Thank you so much, everybody. I really appreciate your advice.

I do realize that since my ex and I acted more like friends than lovers anyway, that we could still maintain the same way of talking, etc., but just minus the romance. I see how that could be misleading, and I also worry that my ex may feel that I haven't ended the relationship if I say the love you part. Sigh.

It is so weird because I do realize that it is our love for each other that kept us together, because we don't have a whole lot in common to be honest. We might night even just hang out that much if it wasn't for the love and care part. Sigh. Love is weird, ya know?

I am going to talk all of your advice and relax a bit on the way that I speak with him. It is weird because while I can rationally see that maybe we would have had a tough road in the long haul because of our differences, I still feel a bit bad when he doesn't seem to want to spend time with me. I also feel bad for him because he is still dealing with so much stress, and that is why we couldn't date much even when we were together. Sigh.

Thank you everybody. Big hugs from me.
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Old 04-11-2010, 10:24 PM   #8
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Default Feeling stronger

I am feeling better in some ways. I am realizing more that there were often times in my relationships where I would accept certain things that may have bothered me or made me uncomfortable. I would usually accept what a person told me about their situation. I would always try to give them the benefit of the doubt. There is nothing wrong with that, but it meant accepting certain situations that I wasn't 100% okay with. I realize now that I can like a person, or think very highly of them, but I don't necessarily have to accept things that make me uncomfortable or cause me to have excessive worry. This is a huge step for me as usually, I am more shocked that the guy likes me, and accepts him totally without really thinking about the things that I may need or want in a relationship. sigh.

I am also working through the process of figuring out why I may miss past relationships where the guy was a jerk. Why do I miss people that treated me badly? Why do I focus only on their good parts and not on some boundaries that they may have crossed (i.e., when they were very disrespectful or acted in ways that suggested that they really didn't care about me much). I feel now that though I want to be in a relationship, I am not in a hurry to rush into one. I am going to focus on other things in my life to deal with the emotions and everything around the breakup, and just improve myself.
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:01 AM   #9
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I was on the other side of this equation - I was the new girlfriend of a man who was still best friends with his ex-girlfriend. They still had a beautiful relationship - only without sex. They still said the friendly 'I love you'. They called each other almost everyday. They still planned shopping and brunch together faithfully every Saturday.

Then comes me, almost four years after they 'broke up'. He tried to integrate me into 'their lives'. She was a nice person and friendly to talk to.

I liked the guy enough to stick it out for 9 months. But I eventually ended up virtually hating her (she never did anything personally wrong to me) and hating him. This was the MOST frustrating relationship I've ever had in my life. It was ****, feeling like the 'other wife' is always around for him.

If we had a fight, he would simply go sleep at his 'good wifes' apartment - spend time with the nice one.

Now that i'm writing this... it sounds like I was really stupid- I suppose it was something I had to learn. I was stupid. I'm a bit embarrassed.

What is also interesting - from the other side of the equation, the ex-girlfriend had not had another real relationship with anyone since they broke up. She was also ultimately unfulfilled. She also had no impetus to move on - she was still occupied with her ex.

I broke up with him - because of this behavior. I cut off contact with him, we only talked if it was over something that was more 'business related'. He HATED me for this. He wanted to stay best friends with me, despite the fact that our love relationship didn't work out.

I was very sad - but stuck to my resolutions. 2 months later, I happened to meet the most wonderful man alive. We have so much fun together. We are now living together in a beautiful apartment, jogging together in the park 4 times a week, etc. I love my life and I'm so much happier than i was with my ex.

The other girl, sometimes I see her around. She still doesn't have a boyfriend, despite the fact that she is getting a bit older and would love to settle down and get married (she has said this).

After this experience, namely feeling like I was made to suffer so that they could still be 'best friends', I am of the opinion that tight bonds and friendships should be broken after the love relationship is over.

It is harder for one to move on if they remain good or best friends and it is also hard on any new people that might enter into the equation. It also inevitably hurts if your 'best friend' moves on before you do to a new partner. So many reasons....

Start fresh!
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:00 AM   #10
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I'll add my 0.02 to the conversation.

A good friend of mine was dating a guy for 3 years (?), a long time regardless. They broke up but they remained really good friends. I think it helped that they were geographically separated so that it wasn't possible for them to hang out often. Then, he met a girl and was planning on marrying her (he did). SHE demanded he end the friendship with my friend and never speak to her again. Although my friend and her ex were upset by this, they agreed and haven't spoken since. At first I thought the new gf/wife was being extreme, but then I realized that she's doing it for her sanity. Nobody wants to feel like they come second to the number one person in their life, especially a spouse.

I agree with taking a break and pursuing something else. If you really want to be friends after a couple months, say, then go for it but break it off once he or you enter a relationship.
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:42 AM   #11
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I'm currently in a friendship type of relationship with a former lover. The friendship wasn't my choice...it's just something that evolved over a period of time. It's strange, especially on those days when I remember what we shared and what I wanted from him (marriage). I do have those moments of nostalgia that haunt me. I always tell myself that it's a choice. I can either have him in my life, maybe not as I want him, or I can NOT have him.

The best thing you can do, I think, is set up ground rules.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:03 AM   #12
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I really needed to read this today...thank you all...
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stillwagontsl View Post
I'm currently in a friendship type of relationship with a former lover. The friendship wasn't my choice...it's just something that evolved over a period of time. It's strange, especially on those days when I remember what we shared and what I wanted from him (marriage). I do have those moments of nostalgia that haunt me. I always tell myself that it's a choice. I can either have him in my life, maybe not as I want him, or I can NOT have him.

The best thing you can do, I think, is set up ground rules.
Thank you. I really like this quote.

I do feel that I can be friends with him, because I am able to clearly see our differences and why things may not have worked out marriage wise. In other relationships, I don't think I would have been able to stay as just friends because it would have been that constant longing. With my current ex, I love him on a very deep level----a more humanistic level? In any case, I am able to see our differences and our communication problems, and also how if they did not change, then it would have not been a great relationship long term.

I want him to be happy, and he wants me to be happy. I want him to be happy even if it isn't with me. I am able to see my faults and also understand that we both may need different things in a relationship or in a partner.

It is hard at times when I am having those nostalgic feelings and worried about being alone. When he texts me to see how I am doing, and shows care, that is the hard parts, at times, because very few people I was with romantically really cared about me.

I feel silly because I do have exes that I miss, but they were so disrespectful and uncaring and just made me feel worthless. Why would I focus only on their positives, and not their negatives, and miss them? Why do I do that to myself?
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
I feel silly because I do have exes that I miss, but they were so disrespectful and uncaring and just made me feel worthless. Why would I focus only on their positives, and not their negatives, and miss them? Why do I do that to myself?
Why waste your energy on someone who doesn't want you? I've spent alot of time pining over guys who very easily cut their ties with me and moved on with their lives. They didn't care about my feelings or how they ended things. But you have to realize that you deserve to have good people in your life, people who love and support you. You are worth it. Sometimes it takes a long time to retrain our brains to think positively about ourselves...it's a long process and I'm still working on it myself.
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Old 04-14-2010, 12:43 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by stillwagontsl View Post
Why waste your energy on someone who doesn't want you? I've spent alot of time pining over guys who very easily cut their ties with me and moved on with their lives. They didn't care about my feelings or how they ended things. But you have to realize that you deserve to have good people in your life, people who love and support you. You are worth it. Sometimes it takes a long time to retrain our brains to think positively about ourselves...it's a long process and I'm still working on it myself.
Thank you. You are so right. I don't know why I try to focus on the good parts (like, that I used to be able to have great conversations with one ex, but who cared so little he didn't even look back when he just stopped calling after dating for half a year), and not realize that the bad trumps the good. My friends have told me that I always refer to an ex as a "good guy, but something in me made him not treat me well"---weird, huh?

Well, I have started to realize that I do not have to accept certain things in a relationship. I do not have to accept dates that seem only lacksadaisacal in their liking of me. I do not have to accept situations that seem uncomfortable or seem to be red flags. I can accept that a person I date or love or care for be respectful to me.
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