Have you ever noticed that most people ‘forget’ to mention to their spouses that they ran into their ex-lover at the grocery store? That is until, David Jr. blurts out to mommy that daddy was talking to the lady in the tight clothes that he knew from a long time ago in the midst of dinner at the kitchen table! (There goes sex for the night) Then, daddy’s face turns red and he feels guilty for no real reason (except for maybe his thoughts) and mommy is upset too. After all, if it really was no big deal then why didn’t daddy tell mommy, right? One of the simple truths of marriages is that being friends with past lovers is not an easy thing to do, especially when you are in the throws of married life. Even though spouses may act as if they don’t care, chances are they do and the whole ‘friend’ relationship could mean trouble for your marriage at some point.
First of all, you have to be realistic about which one of your past loves you choose to be friends with. If the guy that you used to meet (before your husband) during your lunch hour for some ‘afternoon delight’ is suddenly your favorite person to hang out with during your free time, it is only natural for your husband to feel awkward (to say the least). If you have told him any of the nitty-gritty details or your hot sex only relationship, than you can’t blame him for wishing you wouldn’t be friends with him. Likewise, if your ex stripper girlfriend, the one you dated for three years before you married your wife, is suddenly your favorite Facebook friend – your wife certainly has a reason to be concerned. Even when these things start out honestly enough, it is difficult to be just friends with people that you have shared a certain level of intimacy with. It is even more difficult to force your spouse to accept it.
Even a high school reunion can cause enough upheaval in marital partners to cause a break-up. And while the jealousy of someone you dated twenty years ago may seem misplaced, most married couples like to think or fool themselves into believing that they are their spouses “one and only!” Not all couples are this way of course. Some are genuinely open to being friends with past lovers and don’t feel the first hint of being threatened by a past lover. For these folks – go for it! Although understand, that one sign of trouble in the marriage could easily send your partner running into their ex’s arms, even if just for a night. For the rest of the people, it is probably best to avoid close friendships with the people that they have slept with or dated in the past. To be frank, there will always be a lurking suspicion in your spouses mind about what you are really talking about or thinking about when the two of you are together. Even franker, you will always have the curiosity of what might have been creeping into your mind (whether you admit it or not) as well.
One of the reasons that past lovers should remain in the past is because something prohibited them from becoming your future. Years after a heart wrenching break-up, it is easy to forget the pain. However, there is some real and tangible reason that the two of you aren’t together anymore. Often, keeping this person as a friend is a ‘have your cake and eat it to’ response that wont work well once you are married. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t or can’t be friends with someone from the opposite sex, because you can. But remaining clear of past lovers is probably the best idea.
If your husband or wife seems open to the idea – there is a good chance they are lying to save face. No spouse wants to be looked at as an irrational, suspecting, or jealous person in the eyes of their partner. This is precisely how they may feel, and them admitting this to you simply makes them look and feel flawed in your eyes. So, they act as if they don’t mind and may even participate in the friendship. But still, there is an awkward feeling that can make the marriage feel threatened along the way. It is one thing to run into people from time to time, but it something altogether different to seek out and maintain friendships with past romantic partners. Rather than force your spouse to be put into this position, it is most respectful to allow your past to stay in the past and resort to having unsubstantial and sporadic contact. Preferably, the kind like above that your son or daughter can witness.
Marriage is difficult enough. At some point, when the heat of mad love settles down and you have the white picket fence and the family, remembrances of the past can easily trigger regret, which when left alone will cease in time. It is easy to be perceived ‘friends’ with someone from your past who doesn’t share the burden of life responsibilities with you. However, if you pursue the friendship too diligently, it will put a great deal of stress on your spouse and the marriage.
While possible, and probably popular for some folks, being friends with past lovers isn’t necessarily the best idea for a happily married couple - who wants to stay that way. Some may claim that this advice is shallow, ill thought out and even suspicious, and mean. You may think that part of being a grown up is putting aside childish jealousies and insecurities and that marriage is founded in trust and honesty. Yet – the simple nature of the situation can make the trio of your spouse and past lover a triangle where at least one person ends up getting hurt. Chances are that person will be your spouse.