Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

His Take: “He’s Friendly with His Exes”

“Should I be worried if my new boyfriend is good friends with a number of his exes? — The New Girlfriend

ART: Oh dear. Were these serious girlfriends? Does he often hang out with them alone? Does he talk about them all the time? And — oh God please say no — does he compare you to them? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it’s probably really weird and you should be worried. But really: if you think it’s weird, then it’s weird. If you’re looking for a serious relationship, then don’t fuck around with the weirdos and dump his ass. But if you just like spending time with him and this is just something for fun, then ride it out until you’re done, and then dump his ass. And no matter what, don’t be friends with him after it’s over, because that’s just weird.

BITTER GAY MARK:In college, my first boyfriend quickly became my first ex, and soon after, my best friend. Our not-so-big break up was drama free — we were just two very different people. Oh, and the sex was just not that great. He would totally say the same by the way. (And often did!) Several of our latter boyfriends did fret about our close friendship. But they had little cause for concern. I mean, if Kirk and I had wanted to be together, we’d have STAYED together. I imagine this is often the case which brings me to you and your boyfriend. The fact that many of his former flames still enjoy his company is an excellent sign that he always treated them with respect. Even when they were going through a break up, which is often when people are at their very worst. This speaks very highly of your boyfriend. Until you have GOOD reason to be suspicious that any of his exes want more, I would simply take all of this in stride. Nothing impresses guys more than a cool and clear head — especially when it comes to dealing with ex-girlfriends.

DAVE: I think you should be worried, only because absolutely nothing good can come from it. If his intention is to have a long-term monogamous relationship with you, this is plain-out disrespectful. But, before I condemn him completely, let’s be fair. Maybe your boyfriend is a decent guy who just doesn’t want to burn his bridges, even though he has no intention of traveling those roads again. Maybe just before he met you, he had a string of light romances that all happened to end amicably. Maybe he thinks that by seeing his exes, you will grow more desirous for him and step up into the relationship. And while I’m at it, maybe he moonlights as a dentist and all of those exes live entirely on a diet of rock candy and Mountain Dew, requiring his frequent attention.

All I can tell you for sure is that if you prematurely accuse him of some infidelity, it says more about you than him. Focus on growing your relationship with him. As the new girlfriend, that is all you control. Later on, as your relationship becomes more serious, so should your commitment to defend it.

GREG: I’m friends with a few of my exes because while the romance died, our friendship and mutual respect remained. I’ve only ever gone back to my exes to hookup when I was in a dry spell or feeling lonely. Otherwise it is purely platonic and I just enjoy their company. So as long as your sex together is good, you’re in the clear.



* If you’d like to ask the guys a question, simply email me at [email protected] with “His Take” in the subject line and I’ll pass your question along to them.

64 comments… add one
  • Laurel April 21, 2011, 12:24 pm

    @Bitter Gay Mark, I remember Dan Savage saying (while answering a similar question) that gay people are a lot more likely to stay friends with their exes simply because they’re already in such a smaller community than the general population that if all your exes are dead to you then pretty soon you’ll find yourself completely alone.

    There are a lot of reasons why a person remains friends with exes. I’ve got my own standard for what makes me uncomfortable, which other people might not agree with, but it’s how I define the issue. If they were intimate, a continued friendship will make me uncomfortable (either sexual intimacy or years of crushes/emotional intimacy). This is because *for me*, I can’t go back to being “just friends” after an intimacy threshold has been crossed. If one (or both) still have any romantic feelings for the other, absolutely no go. If the ex is pining after my bf, I think he’s kind of a cad to keep her hanging around. I also think a certain number of people like to keep exes as friends because it reminds them that there’s someone who still wants them, someone waiting in the wings. If the ex is the person’s *best* friend, I’m not okay with that. Besties spend a lot of time together one on one and are really emotionally intimate, and I am not okay with my boyfriend doing that with someone he’s already had an intimate sexual relationship with.

    All that being said, my bf only had one serious relationship before me and we are friends with his ex. The fact that they were sexually and emotionally intimate for a couple of years does bother me, but I know that’s my issue not his. Everyone has a past. I know that there are absolutely no lingering feelings (other than general friendliness), she actually is out as a lesbian now. Another reason I’m fine with the friendship is that we usually see her a couple times a month at most and it’s always with other friends.

    ETA: I’m really looking forward to everyone’s comments on this question, it seems like a contentious issue whenever it comes up among friends in my social circle.

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  • Sarah April 21, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Yes yes and yes. One ex? Maaaaybe. If they were like, friends before they dated and he broke up with her. More than one? Run run run. Either these girls dumped him and they keep him in their lives because they love men that they wont date wanting them, or you bf dumped them but he still wants to keep them in the picture in case they’re up for casual sex and he doesn’t want to lose contact with them in case it goes south with you. Most likely a combination. RUN.

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    • hana April 21, 2011, 1:51 pm

      One of my exes was exactly like that. He kept all his exes around so that every night of the week he would have a different girl. He told all the girls he was dating that they were the only one but that he just couldn’t fully commit blah blah blah. If you start hearing excuses LW – MOA.

      It is possible to have an ex as a friend. My current bf is friends with one ex. (I’m not friends with any because I believe there are good reasons we are exes) We have mutual rules for dealing with exes (we both had the same ones before we started dating so it worked really well). They are that we are allowed to talk to exes but we can not hide it from each other. If there is an ex that we particularly don’t like/trust we can talk about it and out of respect for each other we cease communication with the ex. You can spend time alone with your ex in a public place during the day (i.e no hanging out alone in each other’s houses at 2am.)
      Thats really it. He and I have both been cheated on so thats how we came up with these rules and I know they do not work for everyone.
      Personally, I can not date people who are friends with all there exes or with exes who are known for cheating on men and stealing men because of my past experiences.

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      • Sarah April 21, 2011, 2:06 pm

        Ok, can I just say how freakin healthy and awesome your relationship with your bf sounds? I think its really cool that you guys can address the topic of whether or not to trust exes and discuss it openly. I think if every couple did that then there wouldn’t be problems with it.

      • hana April 21, 2011, 2:23 pm

        Thanks! I love him and no topic is off limit for us. We’re each others best friend so we are very open. We have our issues sometimes like everyone but we both know how great we work together.

        To be honest, I did ask him to stop being friends with an ex once when we first started dating. Not because I didn’t trust him alone with her, but because I didn’t trust her alone with him. (she cheated on him with multiple men, got pregnant and didn’t know who the father was then when she heard he had a high paying knew job tried to get back together with him by being “friends” and wearing very slutty clothing and accidently touching him/laying on him) She and I just wouldn’t get along so we can’t friends. He is a very trusting man and doesn’t see when people are just using him. He didn’t understand it at first, but when I asked him about my exes and we discussed the ones he didn’t think I should have contact with (I no longer do) he saw my point of view very well. He has other friends who are exes that don’t bother me at all because the girls seem like nice people. I had a lot of bad relationships before so in general I don’t keep contact with exes.

      • Sarah April 21, 2011, 2:43 pm

        See I think that’s the healthy choice too. Sometimes there’s this competition old girlfriends will start with new ones. I personally have a no-tolerance policy for a boyfriend flirting with other women while I’m there, and having some exes flirt with him just for the sake of letting me see it was so rage inducing.

      • hana April 21, 2011, 3:02 pm

        Yeah, it gets really annoying. Girls can be so catty to one another when there is no reason to be. I remember one time I went to a birthday party for the ex I mentioned above. One of his other ex’s was there and she gave me the evil eye all night. I was like, I’m not even with him! I brought a friend with me and met another friend at the party and they both said the same thing lol.

        I think it is very fair to expect your boyfriend to not flirt with other women… otherwise I don’t see the point in being committed.

      • delilahgem April 22, 2011, 10:43 am

        There’s only one ex my boyfriend has that I don’t like, and that’s because I was friends with them when they were together. She was very into people wanting her and flirted with anyone if she and I were out together and would talk about needing to find someone better. She even met her now husband before she broke up with him. They didn’t talk after they broke up really until she found out that WE were together, then she started texting flirty stuff to him. Which of course I freaked about.
        His other exes I have no problem with whatsoever.

  • Natalie B. April 21, 2011, 12:47 pm

    Honestly, I would take it as a positive sign that he is still friends with some of his exes. I’d much prefer that to someone whose exes all think he is a jerk.

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    • thyme April 21, 2011, 1:12 pm

      yes yes yes!

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    • Johanna April 21, 2011, 9:39 pm

      I fully concur. Actually, these answer all baffle me somewhat. I fail to see how this is such a bad thing…

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      • Johanna April 21, 2011, 9:42 pm

        Especially nowadays when it’s so easy to stay in touch with people, that you actually have to actively kick people (de-friend, unfollow) out of your lives to not keep up with them, I would consider it a red flag if a guy wasn’t friendly with ANY of his exes.

        And if you’re talking an ex from work, or who runs in the same social circle…It seems to me that being friendly with an ex in those cases is just maturity.

      • jena April 22, 2011, 10:25 am

        I dunno how it’s a red flag if someone is not friends with any of their exes. I’m 24, and I talk to one — my most current ex… because we share a condo (with a third roommate). I’m thinking about moving away as I don’t much care for where I live, and I doubt we’d stay in touch. No hard feelings between any of my exes, but I don’t keep in touch and am not friends with them anymore…how is that a red flag?

  • thyme April 21, 2011, 12:54 pm

    I TOTALLY disagree. I think being on good terms with his exes speaks highly of him. I am on good terms with all of my exes, because nobody did anything horrible, we just weren’t a good match in the end, and we called it quits. But they are still good people who I care about. But if I wanted to be with any of them, I WOULD be with them.

    People who hate their exes have been in effed-up relationships, and at best have emotional baggage for you to wade through, or at worst thrive on drama.

    But there are caveats to this:
    1. Being on good terms does not mean we hang out all the time. We talk on the phone a few times a year to catch up and maybe get lunch or coffee once or twice a year. So if he’s spending more time with the exes than he spends with her, that may be an issue.

    2. How long ago did they break up? There certainly needs to be a period of silence after a break-up for people to grieve the relationship and get over it before they can readjust their perspectives on each other and really be just friends. If they just broke up recently, there are probably some unresolved feelings lingering and you’re in a danger zone, but if they broke up like six years ago and have been nothing but friends (with no benefits!) since, quit being jealous and be glad that he’s a good guy who knows how to have mature, respectful, and healthy relationships with people.

    I WISH my boyfriend was on good terms with his exes, but they had dramatic and traumatizing relationships/breakups, and now he has all kinds of baggage lying around that I have to trip over all the time.

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    • EB April 21, 2011, 8:21 pm

      I agree. I would much prefer a guy who was friends with all his exes than none.
      I also know that personally i cannot be just friends with exes, where there were multiple break-ups and reconciliations or where there was continued ex-sex after we called it quits. When there is grey area, it is too hard to not fall back into old habits. That said I stop being friends with this type of ex during a relationship but if the relationship doesn’t work, I’ll generally resume the friendship 😉

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      Katie April 22, 2011, 3:25 pm

      “baggage lying around that I have to trip over all the time”

      love that lol

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  • camille905 April 21, 2011, 1:02 pm

    There is no right answer. Some people can be friends with their exes and others can’t. When someone who can and someone who can’t are in a relationship together, this can often cause difficulties. I am friends with many of my exes because we realized that we weren’t good as a couple, but still were friends.
    It sounds as if the LW is someone who can’t be friends with her exes and so is suspicious and doesn’t understand why her bf would want to be friends with them. But obviously the LW is with the bf for a reason and maybe that reason is because he’s a great person which might also be why his exes are still friends with him.

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    • thyme April 21, 2011, 1:18 pm

      You make a good point in differentiating “not being friends” with an ex from “hating” said ex. In reference to my post above, I don’t think just not being friends with an ex or not talking to that person anymore is a bad sign on it’s own, but I think actively hating one’s exes is a sign of having baggage that I would probably want to stear clear of in the future.

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      • hana April 21, 2011, 1:58 pm

        Thats very true! I’m one of the people who can’t be friends with exes and I think it sometimes makes people think I’m a bitch. I’m not and I don’t HATE any of my exes. Its just that usually through a breakup I/they see fundamental differences between us that make it extremely difficult to go back to just being friends. Some of my exes are facebook friends but we don’t communicate at all, there are just no hard feelings.

  • BoomChakaLaka April 21, 2011, 1:02 pm

    I’ve always been iffy about this topic. I mean, I don’t really like my guy getting too close to girls, but on the otherhand, I’d be a bit worried if he didn’t have any friends that were girls. That said, my last relationship ended mainly because I vocally expressed my concern regarding my hunches about his friendships. I would later find out that my hunches were correct. This time around, I haven’t had any except for one ex-crush, but I think that just might be my insecurities talking,

    That said, if you had a hunch, I probably wouldn’t go accusing him. Instead, try to find out the nature of their friendship and see if you can be a part of it. As the gf, I think you should be able to do that. If after you see them together and your hunch is still there, maybe you should MOA since the pain will hurt you both.

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  • Turtledove April 21, 2011, 1:03 pm

    It depends I guess on whether they’re close friends or merely friendly. I find it’s perfectly acceptable to be friendly with an ex (or multiple exes)– that is, to stay connected on Facebook, to be able to have a conversation at a party hosted by mutual friends, or perhaps to have a cup of coffee every once in a blue moon. That speaks to the maturity and kindness of both parties during the breakup. If they were dating for a long time, then it’s also easier on the mutual friends not to have to choose which one they’ll invite to the party. But at that level of contact, I wouldn’t consider them to be friends, rather outer circle acquaintances.

    If your boyfriend is close friends with his exes, especially with multiple exes I will admit that it sends a warning bell to me. But it’s something you have to decide on a case by case basis. Have you met these women? How long/intimate were the relationships? Why do they both choose to remain friends? If these are questions that you can’t ask or get a satisfying answer to, then I would say that there isn’t enough invested in your relationship to make it worth hanging around if this issue gives you the creeps.

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  • LennyBee April 21, 2011, 1:03 pm

    I think it really depends on the circumstances. How serious were the prior relationships? How long did they last? How platonic are the friendships? Is one still hoping to get back together? Were they friends first, and went back to it after failing at dating? If he’s friends with women that were serious, long-term relationships, that’s a serious red-flag. Plus it’s weird. If he’s friends with women that he casually and briefly dated, perhaps he was friends with before, and it’s now completely platonic, that seems pretty normal and okay. If they’re best friends, and dated previously in even a slightly-serious manner, that’s an emotional investment I may have issues with.

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  • Rachelgrace53 April 21, 2011, 1:10 pm

    I absolutely disagree that it’s disrespectful to be friends with an ex. I have stayed friends with all but two of my exes, because I have been friends with all of them first and most of them ended some form of amicably. Why throw away the friendship you’ve invested in building if the romantic part is truly over? I think if he can stay friends with exes, it’s a good thing. It means he’s not a douche who writes women off if he’s not sleeping with them. Obviously watch for red flags like him hanging out with one of them alone all the time or talking about one of them way too much, but otherwise I’d say you probably have a good guy.

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  • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 21, 2011, 1:14 pm

    @Art. Thank you. I feel the same way. Although I think what is appropriate is very individual, I’ve just never wanted to be friends with my exes. I mean, yeah, we dated for a reason… but we are exes for way WAY better reasons. So if I run into them I like to treat them like a crack in the sidewalk I won’t step on because it will break my mother’s back so I just run in the other direction. It could also be that I’ve never been friends with someone BEFORE dating them, and I can see that significantly altering how easy the transition back to friendship would be.

    I think the important thing here is how will the boyfriend respond when the LW expresses her feelings? That would me more telling to me whether or not the relationships he has with his exes are neutral or suspect.

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    • Laurel April 21, 2011, 5:04 pm

      Your last point is great! That’s really what it comes down to.

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  • SGMcG April 21, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I wouldn’t be worried that your boyfriend is good friends with his ex, just as long as he makes it clear to these girls and reassures you that you are his priority and the leading lady in his life. The second you feel that’s not the case, that’s when you start to worry. I’d also worry if the exes don’t show you the level of respect you are entitled to and your boyfriend puts up with that nonsense. If the exes become petty bitches in your presence and your boyfriend doesn’t do anything to stop it (or even defends their behavior), don’t even bother worrying and move on from that crap.

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  • PFG-SCR April 21, 2011, 1:25 pm

    I think some people can be “just friends” with their exes and neither person want more than that, but in _some_ situations, one person wants more. That can be complicated for a friendship, and in certain instances, the friendly gestures _can_ be a front by the person wanting more. However, the LW can’t tell her boyfriend who he can and can’t be friends with, so just like she should with any other girl, she’s going to have to trust _him_ (regardless of the interests of his exes) if she wants to be with him. If she doesn’t, this is likely to become a source of major conflict in their relationship.

    @Greg: I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but your answer didn’t sit well with me. The comment, “So as long as your sex together is good, you’re in the clear,” seems to imply that exes are there as a back-up if the sex with the current girlfriend isn’t “good” (by his standards).

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      bagge72 April 21, 2011, 1:49 pm

      I don’t think his comment sat well with me, beacuse his comment was the exact reason people are afraid of their so’s being friends with ex. I mean he says his friendship with them is purely platonic, but says he goes back, and hooks up with them everytime he is in a dry spell. Well if my girlfriend told me that the ex’s that she is friends with she had hooked up with in between other relationships just because she was in a dry spell, I would not want them to still be friends.

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      • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 21, 2011, 2:09 pm

        YES. I’m with Laurel above in that there is a threshold of intimacy that is hard to uncross. Hooking up with someone you also have a mental connection with (otherwise you wouldn’t be friends, right?) seems like it would be hard to turn and and off whenever you started a relationship with someone else. In fact I simply don’t believe that those kinds of connections can be just turned on or off, so “hooking up during dry-spells” would be a red-flag to me.

      • thyme April 21, 2011, 2:30 pm

        yeah, the “hooking up during dry spells” thing is a HUGE no-no for me too. If my SO is friends with exes, he better have had ZERO sexual interest in that person for a looooooong time.

    • hana April 21, 2011, 2:08 pm

      She can tell him not to be friends with his exes if she wants to, just the relationship might not go to far after that!

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  • Jessica April 21, 2011, 1:38 pm

    I personally think that if he’s friends with his exes then that’s a good sign. I dated a guy who claimed his exes were psychos and didn’t want anything to do with them – when in fact, he was the problem, not them. I’d much prefer that he would have been friends (or friendly) with them, and to know that they still spoke highly of one another, rather than call each other names and show that they are too immature to move on.

    As long has he’s being upfront with you about the contact with his exes, then I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Now..if you catch him calling them and then lying about it later, then you have something to worry about, and I’d speak up. It wouldn’t hurt even to try to extend a friendly hand to them if you know that they’re going to be apart of his life, and therefore, maybe part of yours as well, if the relationship goes the distance.

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    bagge72 April 21, 2011, 1:40 pm

    This is a tough one, and it all depends on the person. Me personally, if my so is friends with her ex, and they are emailing each other every once in a while or something that is fine as long as i’m in the loop, but if it is like everyday, and they are also meeting up with out me, and it seems like they might be hiding their conversations from me then I find that kind of weird especially if the ex is single. I konw my ex does talk to her ex through email every once in a while, and I’m kind of ok with it, the only part I don’t like is that she doesn’t tell me about it at all. The only reason I found out was because he offered her some stuff for free (some how he couldn’t find anyone else to take a free keurig), and she wanted to know if I felt ok if she took it. I was a little upset, because I had no idea it was going on this whole time, but I got over it (for the most part).

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  • TheOtherMe April 21, 2011, 1:46 pm

    I ♥ Art. That is all.

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      caitie_didn't April 21, 2011, 2:02 pm

      Agree….Art for the win again!

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  • Sarah April 21, 2011, 1:48 pm

    IMO, short of very rare instances with an ex, most ex relationships will still carry a certain amount of sexual tension. Maybe I’m just cynical about friendships with men and women anyway, but to me, men and women are friends because a.)They’re having sex b.)They might have sex (according to one or both parties) C.)One person wont want to have sex, but likes that the other person would want to. Of course, these friendships can have much more meaning to them, but I am convinced this is the starting principle for most of them. That being said, I am friendly with one of my exes. The only reason for this is because I have ZERO sexual attraction to him anymore, nor he to me, for a variety of reasons. Otherwise, I try to stay away (kindly if I can) to the rest.

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    • moonflowers April 21, 2011, 10:27 pm

      I’d like to respectfully disagree about men and women not being friends without any sexual tension. Slate.com had a whole series about platonic friendships (see http://www.slate.com/id/2268709/).

      My own personal experience is that it’s quite possible to be close friends with straight men, where both of us have absolutely no desire to date or have sex. At some point there’s usually this awkward conversation along the lines of “If we get along so well, why aren’t we dating?,” and after we discuss candidly our profound lack of chemistry, the topic never comes into question again. 🙂

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      • Fairhaired Child April 22, 2011, 12:49 am

        I agree with you Moonflowers, I have actually had several close male friends which there is no sexual tension between us at all. One in fact, I am very affectionate with, to the point of a lot of people assume we are dating or that he -must- be gay. To my knowledge and to the knowledge of his girlfriends he’s not gay, and him and I just enjoy each others company – neither of us fit the other’s “desires” of the opposite sex so we really aren’t attracted to each other. In fact I view him as my “little brother” of sorts (even though he’s older i’m very mothering in our friendship).

        However I agree with Sarah on the fact that staying friends with exs can still hold a lot of tension. Because not only will they remember their own sexual experiences with each other, but they may also feel like they could be “compared” to the new gf/bf. I am still on “talking levels” with some of my exs – mostly restricted to random facebook “OMG YOU GOT A KITTEN”/”How’s life/work” type converstations etc, but when I tried to be friends and still hang out with them it was extremely awkward esp. when one of us began dating someone new (for that sexual tension – while I didn’t want a relationship with them anymore it was still hard to see someone else holding hands/kissing someone I used to do that with.)

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    caitie_didn't April 21, 2011, 2:10 pm

    I’m also iffy on this. I personally am not friends with either of my serious exes. I am on civil terms with the first one, because we occasionally work together and need to maintain a professional relationship. The other one, the more recent breakup, really did a number on me and we are not friends now for obvious reasons. We may be in months or years, but I doubt it because I find it very difficult to go from a physically and emotionally intimate relationship to a platonic one. But that’s just me.

    While I agree that it might speak well of someone who is on friendly terms with their exes, there’s a different between being civil with your exes and being “good” friends with them. My first serious boyfriend was “best friends” with many of his ex girlfriends and he was doing exactly what you might expect- using them to manipulate me, maintaining an emotionally intimate relationship with at least one of them while we were together, manipulating them and making them believe that there was a chance at a romantic relationship with him in the future. For that reason, I think seriously now before I date someone who is “close friends” with exes (one- whatever. more than one? concerning.), and someone who has a lot of female “best friends”.

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  • cat-i-z April 21, 2011, 2:17 pm

    There are so many sides to this question…. most of them have been talked about above.

    I’m not a fan of my guy being friends with ex’s but I don’t think it makes him an automatic cheater or a guy who wants a girl around when he gets lonely… what was that about @ Greg??!!

    Unless he gives you a reason to worry about it.. I wouldn’t worry. Just be patient with him and see how he acts around them…. does he see them too often or talk about them too often??

    Just watch for the red flags and decide for yourself if you can handle his friendships with them.

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  • baby.blanka April 21, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Almost all of my exes and I have been on good terms… until something weird happened. One of my exes wanted to get back together with me while I was seeing someone, so he no longer spoke to me after that. Another exes new GF required that we no longer be friends, so he no longer spoke to me after that. Yet another ex and I were friends until he moved to a different country with a church group and did missionary work.

    Basically, although I have never been close friends with an ex, I never had bad feelings towards them either… but in time you really just grow apart. I would be curious to find out exactly how they are friends (like, facebook friends versus calling each other every evening to catch up friends) because I think that makes a huge difference.

    I only worried about Mr. Blanka and his ex benig friends once, and it was because he had a history of leaving women to repeatedly date and break up with this ex. Needless to say, I had no reason to worry.

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  • justpeachy April 21, 2011, 3:44 pm

    I think a big part of it is also the reason they broke up. If he broke up with one of his exes because she went to grad school or something in another state and they didn’t want to do the long distance thing, and now she’s back in town, I would definitely be more concerned than say if she had cheated on him.

    I also agree with a lot of the previous comments that there is a big difference between being friends and being friendly. If you do decide to talk to your boyfriend about his friendships with his exes, make sure that you’re not telling him he can’t be friendly with them, just that some aspects of their relationships make you uncomfortable, like going out to dinner.

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  • sarita_f April 21, 2011, 5:12 pm

    BitterGayMark – I personally like what you have to say, but please be careful with lines like this:

    “Nothing impresses guys more than a cool and clear head — especially when it comes to dealing with ex-girlfriends.”

    Many women try too hard to be ‘The Cool Girlfriend.’ Often starts with paying attention to comments like this, devolves into a shame spiral and attempts to be cool, and ends with women taking a bunch of crap from shitty men… who want their gf to be ‘cool.’

    Please don’t feed that monster.

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      caitie_didn't April 21, 2011, 6:57 pm

      Agree!!! It’s attitudes like that this that make many guys think a girl is “crazy” or “clingy” or “needy” for making reasonable demands. Being “cool” should not be equated with “not willing to stand up to herself” or “allowing a guy to walk all over her” or “sacrificing her needs to make sure her boyfriend stays with her”..and FAR too many guys out there have the mentality “oh, she has an issue with me doing x (where x is a totally reasonable thing to take issue with), she’s *crazy*; better dump her and move on”, because they get fed this “cool girls don’t do that” load of crap.

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    • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 21, 2011, 7:48 pm

      Yes yes yes!! Thank you for pointing that out. I felt a similar brief twinge, but couldn’t articulate it as well when I read that line.

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      bitter gay mark April 21, 2011, 8:56 pm

      A cool head does not mean “cool” as in groovy and ultra hip. Nor does it mean “ultra doormat to all men.” Instead, It means cool as in calm and collected. Look, if you aren’t able to be calm and collected in a relationship — then NEWSFLASH! You aren’t ready to be in a relationship. Period.

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  • AKchic April 21, 2011, 7:09 pm

    What is it about the “ex” that bothers women? Can anyone explain it to me?

    I’m an ex-wife. Twice. My 1st husband and I don’t talk at all. My choice. For my safety. I won’t go into details. My 2nd husband and I get along great. We talk daily. Have to. We live across country from each other (me in AK, him in PA). The only way he can talk to the kids is either phone or skype video chat. Phone calls are essential so he can keep up with grades, doc appts, everyday stuff, etc.
    He has had a couple of females that were downright furious that we spoke to each other. I mean, one came right out and demanded that he not ever speak to me again. We have children together! We see each other once every 12-18 months. For maybe 1 to 14 days, depending on what the situation is (trade off of kids or an actual vacation where he stays in town at my house the entire vacation period).
    There are reasons why we’re called “exes”. It didn’t work out. We aren’t together anymore and we have no intention of getting back together. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends. Some of us might even be helpful. Who do you think he might go to for suggestions on gifts or date ideas? Yup – an ex. Who do you think he might go to when there’s been a fight and he wants some insight on what he did wrong? Yep, an ex. He knows that we’ve already been through it with him and can offer some insights on his quirks and habits and what might annoy you current females, and we may be able to help.
    Yeah, not all of us are as helpful. Not all guys are as honorable. But, for those situations that are – be grateful and don’t sabotage it.

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    • justpeachy April 21, 2011, 7:22 pm

      I agree with you, but I think there definitely an exception if you have kids with your ex. If you talked to your ex who lives on the opposite side of the country every day and kids weren’t in the picture, that would probably make the most secure girlfriend a little concerned.

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    • Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich April 21, 2011, 7:55 pm

      I think that’s a really mature view of exes, with clear and well defined boundaries. I think in relationships involving younger people (early 20’s, like myself) people don’t always set the quality boundaries between who is an ex, and who is an “ex” (with benefits, potential, or both). In the cases where people don’t or won’t clearly define the relationships they are in to themselves, each other, and others, I think insecurity is understandable, within reason.

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  • HM April 21, 2011, 8:32 pm

    This is 100% my take and might be very different from what others think. I actually take them being friends with ex’s as a really good sign. To me that means that they went through the relationship, it ended, and both behaved well enough that the other wanted to keep them around. It signifies a level of respect for eachother in a time of very complicated and messy emotions. It also signifies a level of stability in your boyfriend (as in he and the ex still get along so he is probably pretty stable in his emotions and his character).
    I have found that my ex’s who are friendly with people they dated before me usually treated me better, esp when the relationship was ending, then men who don’t talk to their ex’s. Those are usually the ones who pulled away and made me feel shitty and then told their friends that I wouldn’t stop calling when I left two voicemails asking if they can call back so we can talk about what’s happening.

    On a side note, does anyone else try to befriend the ex as well? I’ve met a lot of really great friends this way and I think it serves as another roadblock to the two reinstigating their past relationship since she knows me too.

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  • Sue Jones April 21, 2011, 9:47 pm

    I would be more suspect of a man who was NOT friends with any of his exes. I mean, they shared a lot together, it did not work out for whatever reason, but they were mature enough to stay decent about it. I would, however, be VERY concerned if there was any sign that he was still physically intimate with an ex, OR if you get the sense that an ex never got over the breakup and is trying to win him back. But if it is all strictly platonic and these exes seem to respect your relationship and its monogamous boundaries, then I would see it as a good sign that he’s a decent guy and has a certain level of maturity.

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  • Kate April 21, 2011, 9:51 pm

    I cannot imagine wanting to be friends with a SO’s ex. No thanks.

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  • LittleLuWho April 22, 2011, 2:20 am

    I’m wondering if the LW is on ok terms with any of her exes, or if she thinks her boyfriend would take issue with her being friends with one or more of the men from her past. I don’t want to start a controversy by bringing up a possible double-standard but the way the question was answered, it seems as if, for the most part, we’re automatically assuming that a guy who stays friends with ex-girlfriends probably has ulterior motives for those friendships (because the only thing men think or care about is sex, right?).

    I totally get that there are women out there who stay friends with exes to keep a steady weekend lineup as well and that a lot of women aren’t on board with post-relationship friendships with their own exes (some of my exes don’t deserve friends based on how they treated their girlfriend) but I know that many of us have at least one man from the past where the relationship didn’t work out for one reason or another (maybe you couldn’t hack something long distance, maybe you had different views about a dealbreaker like kids or wanting to get married) but a significant period of time after breaking up, the sexual tension has dissipated and there’s no reason to not be friends because, at some point in time, there was something about that person you happened to like. Like his sense of humor. Or vast knowledge of personal finance. Or uncanny ability to pick out good gifts for your mom. And I think it’s unfair to assume that doesn’t happen the other way around from time to time.

    So, assuming we women are capable of these platonic friendships with our male exes (after enough time to get over the relationship and its aftermath, mutually determined by both parties), isn’t it also feasible that your boyfriend might have a couple of girls from his past who are good enough people to keep around? I’d definitely feel squirrelly if my boyfriend talked to and saw an ex (or multiple exes) more than he talks to or sees me (barring circumstances such as having kids together) and if he didn’t make it clear that I’m the most important woman to him but if he sets appropriate boundaries and you trust him, it’s only an issue if you want it to be an issue. I think there is the distinct possibility that this guy just has a good judge of character, his past relationships ended for reasons that don’t rule out a future friendship, and that he is’t half-bad either if these women see him as equally worthy of a post-relationship friendship as he sees them.

    But I could be totally wrong. If people who were friends with exes never engaged in ex-sex or breaking up new relationships to get back together with exes, these questions wouldn’t come up in the first place. Good luck! I hope for your sake that he’s a keeper.

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    • sarita_f April 22, 2011, 2:58 pm

      @LittleLuWho, quoting:

      “…there are women out there who stay friends with exes to keep a steady weekend lineup…”

      Wait a minute, do what now? What does this even mean?

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      • LittleLuWho April 22, 2011, 7:01 pm

        Keep in touch with exes for the sake of knowing you have a list of people you can call for sex on the weekends (or during the week), no-strings or otherwise.

  • Dave Jay April 22, 2011, 9:07 am

    I think EVERYONE in this forum needs to watch a movie called, “When Harry Met Sally”… and remember that in the end, Harry was right. “A man and a woman can never just be friends because sex inevitably gets in the way”.
    It sounds like many of you are only halfway through this experiment, so you’re kind of like the rocket scientist who says “Everything was going absolutely perfect until the explosion!”.
    I’m not saying that exes shouldn’t stay amicable, they should just out of sight and hence, out of mind. Obviously if children are involved, you have a unique situation and a larger obligation that supercedes your social life.

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    • AKchic April 22, 2011, 1:41 pm

      Sorry, but “When Harry Met Sally” is a 30 year old movie. The concept is outdated to say the least.
      30 years ago it was expected that the only reason people of opposite sexes would interact was in order to eventually procreate. Today that is not necessarily true. Yes, we still have biological imperatives, but we are not completely ruled by our animal instincts.
      I have not had a plethora of “boyfriends”. I can admit to having quite a few “lovers”. Many of the “friends with benefits” variety. Almost all of them are still friends even though the extra benefits have ceased. Some of these guys have been around since the early 90s when we were in elementary school! These are the same guys that haven’t had “benefits” since 1999. They have been friends with my husband (2nd not 1st), my current SO, family, other FWBs, female companions, etc. I have had some male friends that have never thought of me in any sexual way. I took no offense to it at all. They were not homosexual either. I just seemed more “sister” than potential sex partner.

      Maybe some people can’t be friends with the opposite sex. I’ve never found that to be true in my case. Maybe it’s because I’m a tomboy and I’m not particularly romantic and I am quite pragmatic and logical.

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      • HmC April 22, 2011, 6:31 pm

        When Harry Met Sally is 20 years old not 30. And it is adorable. That is all.

      • AKchic April 22, 2011, 6:38 pm

        1989 – 22 years. Close enough for my purposes. In any case, movies at that time never depicted mixed sex relationships as anything other than romantic. Even the ones that tried to be platonic all ended up as the sexual “happily ever after” BS.

        I didn’t think the movie was “adorable”. Dry, cliche and desperate. But, again – I don’t do romantic chick flick movies. Closest thing to a romantic comedy I like is Blazing Saddles (sorry, but I love Madeline Kahn, she was a classic). Of course, Mel Brooks movies do have a certain appeal that today’s “comedies” just don’t have. Oh, yeah… intelligence.

    • plasticepoxy April 22, 2011, 2:43 pm

      Something about this comment doesn’t sit right with me. I feel like it’s overly generic and is actually untrue. Specifically “EVERYONE…needs to watch…”When Harry Met Sally”…”A man and a woman can never just be friends…”

      In my personal experience, the above assertion is not true.

      For some people, friendships with exes work. For some people they don’t. It all depends on the dynamic in the relationship. We can all give our personal experiences but LW has to decide what she’s comfortable with and then live her life based on that. If that means having a BF who isn’t friends with exes, she may have to make a decision about sticking with her comfort zone and keeping her boyfriend.

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    • sarita_f April 22, 2011, 2:55 pm

      Seriously? You must have a fucked up worldview if you take old RomComs for God’s Final Truth.

      And here’s a nitpick: I don’t think having children involved is a ‘unique’ situation these days.

      But thanks for piping in, grandpa.

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      • Dave Jay April 22, 2011, 5:10 pm

        I’m pretty sure sex has been around for longer than 30 years. I hold up myself as evidence. (See, I can make silly comments too.) Every generation thinks they “re-invent sex” when in reality, they mostly just degrade it further from the beautiful gift it was meant to be. You don’t have to be a grandpa to know that oxymoronic phrases like “Friends with Benefits” and “hookups” are just politically correct phrases that protect the identities of the people who partake in them. And yes, those people have been around a long while too, constituting “the oldest profession”. Sorry I’m not dipping into the vat of vile language to make my point clearer, but it is Good Friday, so I’m TRYING to be good 🙂 Then again, that Bible is 2,000 years old… better throw that away too while I’m clearing out my Romantic 80’s flicks.
        Happy Easter Everyone!

      • AKchic April 22, 2011, 6:33 pm

        “the oldest profession” – you mean farming? *blinks innocently*

        Did you know that there were women in the temples (priestesses actually) that were there to have sex with male paritioners? Yes… prayer through orgasm. It was thought that man could not “speak” to God unless it was through orgasm – by actual sex, not masturbation. We’re talking ancient Judiasm folks. So, that “oldest profession” bit – it was church sanctioned.

        The more you know 😀 (you’re welcome)

  • Girl Stand Still May 6, 2012, 6:16 pm

    I don’t understand the men and women can’t be friends concept. I think it it is utter crap to say that men and women can’t be friends because eventually sex will happen. If this is the case I’m wondering when it is gonna happen with friends that I’ve had for 20 years. By saying men and women are incapable of having purely platonic friendships you are diminishing our species. Not everything in life that exists is black and white and can be defined by science. Logic tells me that I can be friends with men. I have plenty of male friends that have zero interest in me and vice versa.
    -On a side note, I used to be one of those girls who was uncomfortable with boyfriends being friends with exes. Mostly because of insecurity and past experience of having been in bad relationships with men. My current boyfriend (whom is my long-term, we are planning a future together, kids, marriage the whole she-bang) is friends with his ex that he was with for six years. They were both young when they were together and she wanted to get married and have kids while he didn’t want that yet. So the relationship ended and now they have a friendship and it’s been ten years and neither one has any interest in the other. My boyfriend is still friendly and friends with some of the girls he has been intimate with, which bothered me at first. However, he gives me no reason to worry. He isn’t hiding anything, he was open from the start that he is friends with them and explained that I have nothing to worry about. Whenever I’ve ever had my insecure (trust me it is insecurities) irrational mood swings, he has no problem handing me his phone so that I can if I wanted to see what is up. He has given me the passwords to his email accounts, etc and doesn’t hide his emails, texts, etc from me. He doesn’t try to keep me from talking to any of his female friends, and tells me that if I am ever truly uncomfortable and feel disrespected about his friendships he would do one of two things, never hang out with them without me or just not hang out with them at all. He has made it clear from the very beginning that I am his priority, he loves me and that he would never do anything to mess what we have up for someone else.

    I trust him completely and know that any doubts I have are because of my own insecurities. He has never given me any reason to doubt him and doesn’t hide things from me.

    If a guy you are dating doesn’t give you a reason to mistrust him, doesn’t hide or act shady, ensures, acts, and treats you as a priority and number one woman, any mistrust and uncomfortable feelings may have more to do with you than with him.

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