Just friends with the ex

Joey Garcia

I’ve been dating a wonderful guy, and it’s blossoming into something serious. So I told him my ex and I are friends. It’s just that I find all of these cool spots or events in Sacramento and my ex is the first person I want to share it with. Everything I love about Sacramento has him associated. Even after our terrible breakup, when I felt like my heart was ripped out of me, it still feels nice to talk to him. I think about him all the time.

The guy I’m dating now was not comfortable with that and, if the situation was reversed, I don’t know if I would be either. After reading your Spring Cleaning column, I thought I would ask for your advice. Am I being absurd and naïve?

It depends on your end game. If you savor hours of wistfulness, nostalgia and longing, continue to circle back to your ex-boyfriend. The key word is back. When you contact your ex, it revives the past in a way that likely feels reassuring, at least temporarily. Breakups can be traumatic. Trauma inflicts emotional wounds and triggers our vulnerabilities. It’s a painful space to occupy.

Wounds require loving attention in order to heal. You’ve taught yourself to self-soothe by reaching for your ex. It’s a habit that can be broken after you understand why you constructed it. One reason might be because your mind obsesses about the ugly breakup and you want quick relief. Or maybe you reach for him when things are imperfect between you and your new guy.

It’s also possible that your ex is your go-to on those days when life stresses you out. By choosing to share cool finds with him first, you put him on notice that he still holds a piece of your heart. Has he offered you his? Or is it an ego boost to hear from the woman who refuses to get over him? Gah, a bit harsh, I know. But you deserve to dig deep and figure out why you’re holding on.

If everything you love about Sac is connected to your ex, make new memories. Take control of your mind, too. By thinking about your ex “all the time” you’re giving him too much power over your inner life. Take charge. When he pops up in your head, say: “Thanks, but I’m done with that relationship.” Then, redirect your mind to the present. Say: “I’m at work and focused on completing this report,” or whatever it is you’re avoiding through nostalgic daydreams. Become a woman invested in her own life.

One last thing, if you’re not really into your new guy, be honest and let him go. He deserves to be with a woman who wants to share her excitement about cool spots and events with him first. Want to become that woman? Delete your ex-boyfriend’s number from your phone. Unfollow him on Insta and other social media platforms. The reality is that you’re not friends with your ex, you’re infatuated with him. It’s not a healthy situation for you, your new man or the guy you had that awful breakup with.

Meditation of the week
“People who violate your boundaries are thieves. They steal time that doesn’t belong to them,” writes time coach Elizabeth Grace Saunders. Do you know where you stop and someone else begins?

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