Girls. Girlfriends. Ex-girlfriends. Friends. Best friends. Sigh…Girls. Can lesbians really be friends with their exes? I’d like to think so, but some others don’t see it possible. Either way, the undeniable truth is that most of us are indeed friends with our ex-girlfriends.
So, why are we friends with the ex, anyway?
One reason I really think lesbians remain friends with their exes is because as females, we tend to form a natural bond- a sisterhood, if you will. When we become close with another female, we open up on an intimate level, whether that female be a friend or something more. We develop feelings for this other person, whether we’re in love with her or not. Feelings can include nurturing, affection, admiration, and ultimately an attachment develops. When a relationship dissipates, that attachment doesn’t necessarily go away, thus we hang on to some of the feelings for this other person. Us women tend to be connected to our maternal side, whether we know it or not, and we still care for our ex as a whole person, not just as a girlfriend. The end result- a friendship with the ex. Or at least an attempt at a friendship with the ex.
How Does it Work?
Lesbians will do anything to keep in touch with their ex-girlfriends. Of course that doesn’t describe you, right? Common scenarios such as making a point to ‘return her stuff that she left behind’, or checking in with a mutual friend ‘to see if she is doing okay’, or showing up at her favorite lesbian bar on her only night off to ‘accidentally’ bump into her. If you deny doing any of this, then you at least know someone who has. This could be the budding start of fitting back into her life, or it could push her further away from you. Or it could lead to a restraining order.
You two have broken up, but you are still sleeping together. As friends. You both (most likely one of you) have agreed that the relationship can’t work. But you still want to reap the benefits of the sexual relationship you share. Sex with the ex. As pleasurable as it is dangerous.
Why it works- You know each other, you know what feels good, you share an element of trust, it’s comfortable, and the ‘in-between’ love and casual sex kind of feels good. You can reap the benefits of a relationship without the responsibilities.
Why it doesn’t work- One of you will start dating someone else. It will then be evident that the sex with the ex arrangement was indeed temporary, and whether you want to or not, feelings will be affected.
Your ex is friends with your friends. We know that all too often us dykes travel in many of the same circles. I don’t know what it is- maybe because there are fewer gathering ports in which the lesbian community can be social, in comparison to our hetero peers. When your ex-girlfriend is part of your group of friends, it can be very difficult. Awkward isn’t even the word for the mutual friends when the two of you have to be in each other’s presence for the first couple of times. Sometimes friends feel pressure to take sides when there is a break up in the group. I believe that sometimes continuing participation in the group can actually help for two exes to form a new friendship. Without fail, there is sure to be a healthy chunk of lesbian drama to choke down!
What You Need to Consider
She will start dating again. Without you. And it will feel like a punch in the gut. No matter how close you two are as friends, it isn’t going to feel good. You will feel jealous, even though you know you have no right to be upset. You will feel left out, even though this is just her moving on. And as her friend, you need to not be bitter, but supportive. I admit that I have shown my fair share of attitude toward my best friend/ex-girlfriend when she started dating back when we had first broken up. I’d always point out her new girlfriend’s flaws and give my assessment on how they do not belong together. I didn’t want to be with her, but I didn’t like any girl she was with either.
You will be in a situation where your partner is friends with her ex. And it will suck. My wife and I have gone in exhausting circles with this one. She gets upset when I’m friends with certain exes because she insists they still have feelings for me. I argue and tell her she’s just paranoid, that we’re good friends. Then you know what happens? She buddies up with a few of her ex-girlfriends. And the heat inside me rises every time I have to see any of them. I know the back stories. I know how it ended. And I know that feelings still hang in the air like really adorable smog. Yet I know I can’t ask her to give these friendships up either.
Making it Work
Friendship works best when you both have moved on. When you each have begun dating someone else, it’s the permission slip to let go of pent up feelings and be okay with each other. This gives you each the assurance that romantic feelings are no longer there, or at least they’re tucked away respectively.
Have a talk with your ex about feelings and boundaries. If you two are serious about being friends, then you should be able to talk about it. You no doubt care about each other, you have history, and you don’t want to lose each other. You need to clear the air of any residual feelings or attraction you may or may not have for each other. It’s wise to be on an even keel. Now is also the time to take into consideration any new partners and their feelings.
Avoid lesbian love triangles. I laugh out loud on this one. Sure I give this advice, though I have seldom followed it. Basically if you want to be friends with exes, don’t date their exes, or their exes exes, etc. It equates to boatloads of lesbo drama in a handbag. I have been in dating situations where my girlfriend was the ex of one of my ex girlfriends. I’ve also been in a situation where I was dating two girls, who were in fact dating each other, yet each of them didn’t know about their relationship with me. A genuine triangle. I’ll stop here.
If you are going to be friends, then act like friends. In other words don’t sleep with each other- even if you are both single, incredibly horny, and feel you have nothing to lose. Confusing boundaries and accidentally rekindling feelings can be dangerous and someone could get hurt.
Introduce her as your friend, not your ex-girlfriend. It’s habit to refer to her as your ex, but if you keep doing this out loud, that’s all she’ll ever be. You wanna be friends, right? So make her your friend and leave it at that.
Be a good friend. Treat her like any other friend you have. No, treat her better. I don’t mean favor her. But be genuine with her and support her. Have fun with her and be there when she needs a shoulder to cry on. Listen if she wants to bitch about her co-worker. Have her back.
Word on the Street
I asked some local lesbians’ opinions on being friends with the ex. Here’s what they said:
“Exes always treat each other the same way they did when they were dating. Whether it’s sweet or bitchy, they always talk to each other differently than they do other people. That connection doesn’t go away.”
“Being friends with an ex completely depends on their personalities and the reason for the break up. If there was a broken heart, then it’s probably not a good idea, but if it was mutual, then it’s worth a shot.”
“I do not think you can be friends with your exes because I think you always care about that person in a different way than you would [your] friends whom you do not have or had an intimate relationship with. You can ultimately spark those feelings again without meaning to, making life confusing, even if it’s not what you really want.”
“It is okay if you are friends at a distance, or have mutual friends. But it doesn’t work if you are close friends.”
“Two can meet and have a super strong bond and get along great but because they are lesbians they think it’s that special ‘she’s the one’ feeling, and really it’s just a meant to be friendship. If they can end the ‘something more’ part and be friends, then why not? Why lose a great person from your life just because you used to sleep together?”
I’d love to hear your feedback on this topic! Leave a comment on your experience!