Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The ex factor

I hope you enjoyed yourselves on the 4th of July. I re-instituted an old tradition of mine by getting nice and schnockered for the holiday. Three drinks will do that to me. I attended a small gathering, and, while I skipped the walk to the Mall to see the fireworks, I enjoyed myself.

I spent a great deal of the day in another flurry of sorting. A few stray photographs were placed in albums. Old images were uploaded to Flickr. Empty boxes were deemed ok to dump. For example, I still have the box from the computer that was stolen a year and a half ago. Why? I'll never use it again. It must go. (I haven't actually thrown it away yet, but it's out of the closet and will soon be out the door.)

And, if I have no dating stories from my own life to share, I do have another "Dear Jamy" question to answer. Better late than never.

Hello Jamy!

I have a couple of questions for your column.

1. What are your thoughts on being friends with an ex? I have no desire to keep him around for a good lay since I'm a virgin, but I value the friendship that we established in our relationship. I would like to maintain it at some level, but not to the point that it interferes with our getting into other relationships with the opposite sex. Where are the boundaries? Your thoughts?

2. How long should you wait after a breakup to get back out there? I am a very resilient person by nature, but I don't want to be jumping into something too soon after a break up. I also don't want to use the break up as an excuse to not get back out there. Your thoughts?

Sandra Dee

Hi Sandra Dee,

I've always thought it's a fine idea to stay friends with an ex. But, I must admit, I've never done it. Not that I've ever stayed enemies with an ex—it's just that usually, the old feelings are still there and it is too complicated/ uncomfortable/ awkward to keep up a full-fledged friendship. It has been done, successfully, but not by me. (My brother, B1, has done it—but I suspect most of those friendships did not survive his marriage. Many of his ex-girlfriends did attend his wedding, though, which was amusing. In fact, it was an ex-girlfriend who introduced him to his wife.) I'm not counting exes with whom I occasionally talk on the phone or see on the odd visit to their home towns, but these are rare events, not regular friendship-style contact. And I would never recommend keeping someone around for casual sex, though I know that is pretty common.

However, before starting a friendship with an ex, I think you need to take a break from seeing him. You need time to get into an ex-free routine. If you keep seeing him regularly in the aftermath of a break up, you may not leave enough space in your life for someone new. So, take a break from seeing AND talking to him for at least a few weeks and then decide if you want to keep up the friendship.

Your second question is impossible to answer. You should wait as long as you need to wait before you get back out there. People have all kinds of rules and formulas about this, but I don't. When you are ready, you are ready. If you rush it, it won't matter, you can't force yourself to be ready. It's probably a good idea to time limit the moping, but as to actual dating—if you are good to go in two days, that's fine. If it takes two months, so be it. When it's time, I think you'll know.

Take care,

Grateful for: being ready.

Drop me a line.

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