Twice in the past month I had the opportunity to spend time with two of my ex-boyfriends. Both times, afterwards, I was struck with how much I enjoyed their company and how lovely it was.
A dear, married-for-20-years friend has always teased me about being friends with all of my exes. It isn't true that I'm friends with all of them (there are one or two that turn my stomach) but, for the most part, I am friendly with the majority. She thinks it’s weird. I call it practical.
Here's what I like about it:
– I appreciate the company of a man. They're different from my girlfriends in ways that are good and ways that I still don't always get, but that difference is what makes it interesting.
– We know each other well ... or as well as a man can know a woman. We've shared many intimate moments (not just the physical kind) and we've seen each other at our best and worst. There's no pretense, so it's comfortable.
– Since we're just friends now, and no longer dating (and no longer "doing it"), I get to focus on the good things about them, those things that drew me to them in the first place. And when they start to bug me, I can say "good night." I get to shut out the other sides of them that are the reasons we broke up in the first place.
– I know who's good for what. When I need someone to hang with me — escort me to a gala, or see a movie, or go to a concert — I know who likes what, so I know exactly who to invite and who to not. (When you're dating, he has to go with you whether he wants to or not, which doesn't always work out so well).
So when I needed someone to pick me up from a colonoscopy, I asked my ex, not the guy I’d just started dating who was still in that phase where he thought I was close to perfect. I didn’t want the new guy to be thinking about my bowels and colon at that fresh place in our relationship. The ex, on the other hand, had already seen the less-than-perfect side of me … plus, who cares what he thinks, anyway?
Once, I invited a different ex to my family reunion’s BBQ. I wanted an escort but didn’t invite the (different) new guy, because we were still figuring things out and my family (who I love) can be a bit much, especially when fueled with alcohol. The ex knows my family, “gets” them and they like him. It would be easier. Who cares if we’re no longer a couple? We’re still friends. It could have gotten tricky if the new guy learned I chose the ex over him for this occasion. He may not have appreciated that I didn’t give him enough credit that he could handle it. And he may have wondered if the ex and I were truly done with each other. He needn’t have worried, but I know how it might have looked. Fortunately, he didn’t find out.
Sometimes, it can get a little sensitive when the ex is married or has a steady girlfriend. I know that it's innocent and strictly platonic, but that's a hard thing to convince another woman of. And I get it 100%. I'm not sure how I'd feel if my (presently nonexistent) boyfriend was spending time with his ex.
But being single requires one to be resourceful, and old boyfriends are a good resource. That’s one of the reasons I always aim for a clean breakup. He may come in handy one day. No burned bridges here.