Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
The Case of the Ex
There are several different reasons why a relationship ends, sometimes the decision to end a relationship is mutual as both parties decided the relationship is no longer healthy or worth pursuing. One party may fall out of love while the other remains in love, therefore, like a chair with only three legs the relationship is no longer building or enhancing, but bowing to the pressure of the added weight of one partner trying to sustain it. All relationships end for a reason even if those reasons are not always obvious right away, your ex is your ex for a reason. Typically, during the course of a relationship trust, sharing, caring, support, and love is both established and enhanced which does not go away once the relationship ends. Partners often play a significant role in the life of the other partner as they share experiences, love, and time making it understandable for one or both parties to retain a desire to remain in the life of a former partner once the relationship has ended. Many former partners try to remain friends after a break-up, and some are able to manage this transition successfully, while others are unable to manage the transition from coupledom to just friends successfully.
Unfortunately, once partners cease to be a couple and they attempt to remain in each other’s lives via a platonic friendship the quality of the relationship is less authentic or genuine. Previous research conducted on relationship quality following a break-up revealed former partners tended to have a superficial disingenuous relationship following the break-up. According to research results former partners typically had a lower quality friendship than those that have never been romantically involved.
The reasons for lower quality friendships between former partners may include but are not limited to:
Jealousy- one partner still being in love with the other, unable to see them with anyone else.
Disingenuous motives- Failure to be emotionally supportive, concerned, and helpful to his or her former partner.
Infidelity- There are trust issues preventing one or both former partners from completely trusting the other or each other.
True friendship- The former couple never really established a true friendship outside of their romantic relationship so once the relationship ends a true friendship is unlikely to develop.
The likelihood of establishing and sustaining a true and honest relationship with an ex depends on the motive of each former partner transitioning into the platonic friendship, i.e., remaining in the life of your former partner for the sole purpose of trying to get him/her to fall back in love with you, you want to be aware of all the things going on in their lives, you hold out hope they will somehow morph into the person you always wanted then to be, you think they are lonely or depressed since the relationship ended and you feel bad for them, etc.
Monica & Aaron
Monica & Aaron just ended a 3-year romantic relationship. Aaron felt he had outgrown the relationship while Monica felt they were just experiencing a difficult time in their relationship that would soon past. Regardless of the reasons for the break-up both parties went their separate ways until Monica decided they could be friends and needed to remain in each other’s lives. Although, Aaron honestly and freely discussed his life and interests with Monica she was more guarded with her life and interests. Monica insisted she could be a platonic friend to Aaron after the break-up, even encouraging him to introduce her to the new woman he was dating. Monica never told Aaron she still felt they belonged together, she was still in love with him. Monica seemed to find fault with this new woman Aaron was dating, i.e., she wasn’t good enough for Aaron, wasn’t pretty enough, thin enough, smart enough, his type, etc. Knowing what you know about Monica’s motives for wanting to remain in Aaron’s life is a true friendship still an option for this former couple?
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