From lovers to friends

Norwegianpoly

New member
Husband and I broke up recently - he moved out a few weeks ago. I still see my long term boyfriend, in a different country (although I have not visited him in a while). My husband wanted out, it was not a mutual decition. Poly was one of the biggest concerns, but we also had other issues. I wanted to work on them, he just wanted out. It was a relief at first, because finally I got some answers for his moods etc. Now things are changing, and I am back to being almost as frustrated as I was before he broke up.

Over text, living apart, our communication seem respectful and caring. I love that, because we used to be close friends friends. I hope that one day we may get back together romantically, but also I hope that that if not, we can preserve our friendship. With texting, I get to plan out what I am going to say and take breaks from him, but when we meet up, things get a bit complicated. He always had a tendency to blurt out whatever was on his mind, the breakup had made this trait come out even more and I find it overwealming. He probably means to be helpful and considerate, but I find some of his comments about me and my life condecending. He has a need to talk about his feelings past and present and feels sorry for himself. I have a hard time processing that that he has left, perhaps for good. I dont want to be his unpaid therapist, especially when the details he shares with me involve me and are hurtful to hear about. He tends to get upset when I look happy and content, like that is somehow wrong of me to be optimistic. But if I look miserable or cry, he does not like that either. I have not idea how to look or be that does not set him off somehow. I have told him that I want to understand how he has been feeling, but it is all just so very much, and at the same time.

My (ex)husband says he cares for me and wanted us to transition from lovers to friends. I am not sure how we can do that, at least not for a long time. Especially when I start visiting my boyfriend again. But I also dont want to loose him.

Have anyone changed sucessfully from lovers to friends, perhaps after having started out as friends?
 

opalescent

Active member
friends to lovers to friends

Yes, I have, several times.

I recommend not being in contact with him at all for 40 days. No texts, getting together, social media, nothing. This allows both of you to reset yourselves and get used to a new reality.

The reality is that the relationship you had is gone. It's (probably) not coming back. It's possible to have a deep friendship with an ex. Beaker and I are fairly close, and I talk frequently with most of my exes. But it's not going to be like when you were in a romantic or sexual relationship. This can be very jarring to wrap your head around. That's in part why going no contact for a period of time is so necessary for me. I've found it invaluable to separate, truly begin mourning that relationship, and start fashioning a friendship again.

The thing is, you cannot be his support for the breakup. He cannot be your support for the breakup. You two are just too close to each other and the situation to be supportive to each other as the marriage unwinds. It's not healthy for either of you. Do not rely on each other to process this painful thing. After the 40 days no contact, do your best to hear his feelings and thoughts. Hopefully he will do the same for you. That may be necessary and ultimately healing. However, even after time apart, it may still be too soon to truly hear each other's truths. That can take time to get both people emotionally able to hear another's painful truths and able to tell their own painful truths in a way that the other can listen and understand. It's taken years for me to process deeply all the implications and reasons behind why Beaker and I divorced. You might have a similar experience.

You are going to have to let him go, even though you don't want to. Hopefully, over time, you and he can maintain a friendship. But, paradoxically, the first step to that is to truly separate.

I wish you the best.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
you cannot be his support for the breakup. He cannot be your support for the breakup.

THIS


My ex husband and i are friends now, as we were for much of our marriage, but we had several months of minimal contact. Now he is very happy with his GF and he is emotionally available to talk with me about my current romantic involvement. We also reflect on our experiences of being married to each other. He's one of my dearest friends, but only because I allowed him to be distant and go through some pretty angry feelings. The distance went on as long as he needed it and I was not even sure if we would ever be friends again.

If I have any advice, it would be to not try and control the outcome. Some exes do eventually evolve into good friends, some exes have trouble just hearing the other's name. You can express interest in "being friends" but an actual friendship is a co-creation, not something one can orchestrate. Also, it's important that each lets the other have his feelings. Try not to resent him for feeling what may seem unnecessary or unfair to you. Divorces are so emotional and people rarely make logical sense as they go through them. The more you can let your husband go through his own process, however flawed it seems to you, and the less you react with defensiveness or judgement, the happier you'll be - and the more likely it is that you will have a real friendship when the dust has settled.

Just my advice, since you asked, but everyone does divorce their own way.
 
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vinsanity0

Active member
Sorry to hear it didn't work out.

Yes, I have done that, but we ended up getting back together.

I've also done it and regretted it.

I've also wanted to do it, but the ex said no way.

In other words, it just depends on the two people.
 

ArtemisHunt

New member
Transitions can be tough, but I can see you are doing this because you really care for each other and want each other in your lives in whatever form is best/healthiest for you both.

I've done it, well, something like it. Of course I've managed to be friends with exes, but I've also had a divorce without a break up. Hard to explain to the outside, but it was really the right thing for us. After the pressure was off and those expectations/responsibilities changed, we were so much happier together.


I agree with the others who suggest taking time apart, and would like to remind you of my earlier post in your other thread about letting him have his own narrative.

You want to be friends/whatever you can be together? Unfortunately that means letting go of a lot of what you are used to doing with each other before you can even figure out the best way you can relate.

There are so many habits, expectations, familiar ways of relating and interacting that you two have been doing for years and years (much like always agreeing on the official story, or something as simple as being used to touching/kissing without thinking). More things than you realize. It's very difficult to transition into "friend" behavior when you are still in the habit/expectation of "married".

It takes time and experimenting to learn what you have to offer each other outside that setting, very much like meeting a person for the first time. Almost impossible to do while dealing with a breakup! And really, this is one trauma in which you two can't be there for each other.

In the past, I've seen it play out best starting from scratch. Get distance, find other support, process the reality of the divorce in your own way, without him. Adjust to not having those things you are used to. Then, when you are a little more centered, start to build your new relationship.

30 - 60 days is perfect. Hope that helps.
 

FallenAngelina

Well-known member
...letting him have his own narrative.

This is an excellent point that AH made in your other thread and merits highlighting once more. In relationships, and certainly in breakups and almost always in divorces, we easily fall into thinking that we can clearly see what the other person is doing or thinking that needs correcting. Or we see what the other person could and can do better. In short, we think that our perspective is the perspective and of course, there is never just one way of looking at a situation. Many of us assume that in order to heal or move forward, we must share and come to some mutually agreed upon story with our partner about what went wrong. But not only is that not necessary, it's quite limiting and it's of dubious assistance because in actuality, each person will have his/her own story anyway. Even when partners say that they agree, it's only in words. By nature, we are separate, with separate life experiences and separate thoughts. A divorce can be a gut wrenching struggle or it can be an opportunity to mature and really come to understand that we don't have to get anyone to change or heal or see things our way in order for us to find harmony in ourselves and ultimately, in that relationship.

Let your husband be separate. Let him have his own story and his own way of doing things, of seeing things. This is perhaps one of the lessons of your marriage, that even though we are close with people, we can't orchestrate life for anyone else based upon what we think is best for them. Don't work to achieve common thought with him, but let your husband have his foibles and focus upon your own. Don't direct, but instead let things unfold. Not only will you be much more likely to find yourself with a friendship later on, you will have a much smoother ride along the road of life in general.
 

powerpuffgrl1969

Active member
I fully agree with Artemis and Angelina. My first divorce, my ex and I were so so happy playing the "blame game," that we were never able to fashion a working relationship, in spite of having a child together. I haven't actually talked to him in over 11 years, his anger against me is still so great. I had to accept that fact wasn't going to change and quit letting it bother me.

The SECOND divorce (yes, I seem to be a serial monogamist), my ex and I just accepted that both sides behaved badly at times (mostly me), it was over, and we needed to take time to just be angry and hurt. For a while, our only contact was to arrange visits and such with our daughter. After nine odd years, we are able to be friendly with each other and supportive. I wouldn't call him a "friend," but we can chat with each other during our daughter's soccer games with no awkwardness. What he really thinks of me in his heart of hearts, I don't know, but that's his business.

In other words, take the time apart and let your ex have his own "truth." It doesn't matter who is "right" and who is "wrong." There are just two or more people trying to muddle their way through.
 

dingedheart

Well-known member
I agree with thoughts and comments that have preceded me the only thing I'd add is that divorce is highly personal and emotional and that its a lot like poly ....completely unpredictable. I'd say if you both have that attitude or motivation it's more promising than not. On the other side of that coin with the absence of kids that sometimes forces civility it can be too painful and too much " work" for lack of a better word. Everything is a trigger or memory. There is some truth to out of sight out of mind. It sounds like there some resentment and anger smoldering for him and I can't see how you living mono with the BF won't be a trigger or sore spot and for him is that pain worth the friendship. Same can be said for you and his outbursts and mood swings...when does that become not worth the friendship.

My advice is this is a nice goal but I wouldn't have the expectation that it will happen.

Also I think this part of the grieving process to lesson the loss.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
"The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief, postulates a series of emotions experienced by terminally ill patients prior to death, or people who have lost a loved one, wherein the five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance."

Perhaps salvaging a friendship is an example of the bargaining stage. Doesn't mean it's impossible to salvage a friendship, but like dinged said it is a part of the process.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
Yes, I have, several times.

I recommend not being in contact with him at all for 40 days. No texts, getting together, social media, nothing. This allows both of you to reset yourselves and get used to a new reality.

The reality is that the relationship you had is gone. It's (probably) not coming back. It's possible to have a deep friendship with an ex. Beaker and I are fairly close, and I talk frequently with most of my exes. But it's not going to be like when you were in a romantic or sexual relationship. This can be very jarring to wrap your head around. That's in part why going no contact for a period of time is so necessary for me. I've found it invaluable to separate, truly begin mourning that relationship, and start fashioning a friendship again.

The thing is, you cannot be his support for the breakup. He cannot be your support for the breakup. You two are just too close to each other and the situation to be supportive to each other as the marriage unwinds. It's not healthy for either of you. Do not rely on each other to process this painful thing. After the 40 days no contact, do your best to hear his feelings and thoughts. Hopefully he will do the same for you. That may be necessary and ultimately healing. However, even after time apart, it may still be too soon to truly hear each other's truths. That can take time to get both people emotionally able to hear another's painful truths and able to tell their own painful truths in a way that the other can listen and understand. It's taken years for me to process deeply all the implications and reasons behind why Beaker and I divorced. You might have a similar experience.

You are going to have to let him go, even though you don't want to. Hopefully, over time, you and he can maintain a friendship. But, paradoxically, the first step to that is to truly separate.

I wish you the best.
We have met up once, and texted, mainly to fix practical and financial things (we need to finance his new flat, all his stuff is still here). But also to process some stuff about the breakup (follow up of some things that happened when we met up). It is not just that some of his truths hurt; it is that they are weird. Like; he is leaving me in part because he got fed up with my mother being sick. But then again he says that nothing is really my fault. I dont know what to make of it all.

But the therapist we went to right before the breakup is getting him an individual therapist, and her simply reffering to him as depressed (over e-mail) had a soothing effect on me. She sees where he is at.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
If I have any advice, it would be to not try and control the outcome. Some exes do eventually evolve into good friends, some exes have trouble just hearing the other's name. You can express interest in "being friends" but an actual friendship is a co-creation, not something one can orchestrate. Also, it's important that each lets the other have his feelings. Try not to resent him for feeling what may seem unnecessary or unfair to you. Divorces are so emotional and people rarely make logical sense as they go through them. The more you can let your husband go through his own process, however flawed it seems to you, and the less you react with defensiveness or judgement, the happier you'll be - and the more likely it is that you will have a real friendship when the dust has settled.

Just my advice, since you asked, but everyone does divorce their own way.
Thank you. I know that in "theory", we both want to become friends, but in reality things are lot messier. I dont resent his feeling, but I do point it out to him when he gets his facts mixed up. I am happy to let him have his process, I just felt for a while he as usurping my process (I was shocked that he wanted to sell the flat as soon as possible, I told him there is no way I can process anything if I have to think about moving any time soon). I know judgement is the killer of intimacy. I try to not do that. I do however share my emotions and ask for his, to a degree. I think we manage to be fairly respectful over text, in a way that was not possible when we met up. So I think we shall not meet up in person as often, I mean he has his own key so he can pick up anything of his at anytime. I know he is feeling a lot of different things that he cant process with me (nor I with him). I process some things with my boyfriend, but I know he does not have anyone like that and I think he would benifit from therapy. It is not my call, but he did say he wanted the name of a special therapist if it could be found.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
I agree with the others who suggest taking time apart, and would like to remind you of my earlier post in your other thread about letting him have his own narrative.

You want to be friends/whatever you can be together? Unfortunately that means letting go of a lot of what you are used to doing with each other before you can even figure out the best way you can relate.

There are so many habits, expectations, familiar ways of relating and interacting that you two have been doing for years and years (much like always agreeing on the official story, or something as simple as being used to touching/kissing without thinking). More things than you realize. It's very difficult to transition into "friend" behavior when you are still in the habit/expectation of "married".

It takes time and experimenting to learn what you have to offer each other outside that setting, very much like meeting a person for the first time. Almost impossible to do while dealing with a breakup! And really, this is one trauma in which you two can't be there for each other.

In the past, I've seen it play out best starting from scratch. Get distance, find other support, process the reality of the divorce in your own way, without him. Adjust to not having those things you are used to. Then, when you are a little more centered, start to build your new relationship.

30 - 60 days is perfect. Hope that helps.
The challenge with his narrative is, of course, that it touches upon parts of mine. This is challenging.

We have only met once since he moved out. It was to fix practical things, which I feel we can do much better over text. I feel it is weird touching him or looking at him. Especially since I think he is still attracted to me (we were having sex up until a week before he moved out). It does not feel like friendship, but it does not feel like love either. It is weird.

There are really many habits. I have been watching crime fiction without him, eaten without him, thought of things to discuss with him but he is not here. I have noone to talk to about my boyfriend anymore (instead boyfriend and I are talking about him A LOT). A relative called that does not know we broke up. The building board does not know he has moved out. He is not here when I want a cuddle or comfort because I have my period. I dont want to see my friends because hardly anyone knows about the breakup.

But tomorrow my brother is moving in. And soon I will arrange to go visit my boyfriend. So hopefully, I will be able to get some new reality going. Then I guess time will tell.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
Let your husband be separate. Let him have his own story and his own way of doing things, of seeing things. This is perhaps one of the lessons of your marriage, that even though we are close with people, we can't orchestrate life for anyone else based upon what we think is best for them. Don't work to achieve common thought with him, but let your husband have his foibles and focus upon your own. Don't direct, but instead let things unfold. Not only will you be much more likely to find yourself with a friendship later on, you will have a much smoother ride along the road of life in general.
We may have different stories, but I think mainly it is not about different stories, but having different modes of storytelling. I am very much A - so B - so C - then D, he is more like everything is in flux at any given point and may tell seven versions of the same story, and not get why that is confusing to me. My way of making sense of anything he says always have been to make him tell the same story a million times and then sort of make a summary to myself of the stories most commonly told by him. I would figure; what he means is probably along those lines. That is also what I am doing now, to make sense of what he is trying to say; I try to listen and sum it up. Because his stories these days are even less coherent than usual.

I am not sure what you mean by me orchestrating things. Actually, the things we did, my husband had told me in clear and not-to-be-understood words, that his/our plans needed to be followed (us moving/selling/buying flat, redecorating the flat, changing our money habits, looking for jobs, preparing to have a child). He told me in very specific terms; if we are to have a child, we need a flat, and you need a job (I was on sick leave at the time). He may have felt somehow forced to orchestrate, but the last two years (the same period he said he has struggled) he has given me a million specific tasks to do (or he has mysteriously withdrawn when things he planned was to become action). I have sometimes spoken on our behalf, with certain friends, and he has too, especially with his family.

I am not sure what to make of your comment about smoother life in general. Many people in my life dont do storytelling like my husband, and those who do, I am not responsible for, anyway. My boyfriend's way of telling stories is not so...wordy. He is more like thinking a lot to himself and then out comes a small, coherent story, not seven associative ones like with my husband.

My husband said that our personalities are just very different, but he used to admire me knowing what I want to say and just say it. He also used to like me getting him/speaking for him; he even bragged to other people that I was able to do this. My husband has more of a need to talk and talk and sort of circle in towards his point of view. Sometimes even he does not know what he means by the end of it. Then sometimes I often think I know, and say it, and he gets a little upset - not because I am wrong, but because I am right.
 
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Norwegianpoly

New member
I fully agree with Artemis and Angelina. My first divorce, my ex and I were so so happy playing the "blame game," that we were never able to fashion a working relationship, in spite of having a child together. I haven't actually talked to him in over 11 years, his anger against me is still so great. I had to accept that fact wasn't going to change and quit letting it bother me.

The SECOND divorce (yes, I seem to be a serial monogamist), my ex and I just accepted that both sides behaved badly at times (mostly me), it was over, and we needed to take time to just be angry and hurt. For a while, our only contact was to arrange visits and such with our daughter. After nine odd years, we are able to be friendly with each other and supportive. I wouldn't call him a "friend," but we can chat with each other during our daughter's soccer games with no awkwardness. What he really thinks of me in his heart of hearts, I don't know, but that's his business.

In other words, take the time apart and let your ex have his own "truth." It doesn't matter who is "right" and who is "wrong." There are just two or more people trying to muddle their way through.
My first divorce was was messy, for a long time. Then slowly I think we just forgave each other. We follow each other on social media a lot. When we have bumped into each other, it felt ok. I have nothing bad to say about my ex now; we were simply not that good a match as lovers.

My second sort of break up, I have processed it to an extent, but I dont want to be in contact. The sad thing is that I lost respect for the guy due to the way he treated others. This loss of respect overshadows his good qualities. I prefer to not have him be part of my life, even if he was my trial run for poly.

My husband, I have a lot of respect for him. I doubt that will ever change. I dont want to play a blame game with him, I just want to understand. We do have a lot of affection for each other. And I am more confused and sad than angry. I tend to get upset about him getting facts wrong, this relates to our different modes of storytelling; in his associative storytelling, the basic reality of the matter is less important than the flux of the emotions.
 

Norwegianpoly

New member
I agree with thoughts and comments that have preceded me the only thing I'd add is that divorce is highly personal and emotional and that its a lot like poly ....completely unpredictable. I'd say if you both have that attitude or motivation it's more promising than not. On the other side of that coin with the absence of kids that sometimes forces civility it can be too painful and too much " work" for lack of a better word. Everything is a trigger or memory. There is some truth to out of sight out of mind. It sounds like there some resentment and anger smoldering for him and I can't see how you living mono with the BF won't be a trigger or sore spot and for him is that pain worth the friendship. Same can be said for you and his outbursts and mood swings...when does that become not worth the friendship.

My advice is this is a nice goal but I wouldn't have the expectation that it will happen.

Also I think this part of the grieving process to lesson the loss.
We both do want to become/remain friends. My husband said about us "it is like we have a kid even if we dont", which make sense somehow.

Actually, my husband said as much as that he would like to one day be invited to our wedding (me and the boyfriend). He was like, sure he wants to have kids with you etc. I dont know if that is really acceptance, though. It might be harder on him that he himself thinks, if it was to go about that we married after the divorce.

Another side of this; my boyfriend is really grieving what happened. He thinks it is awful. But he is also very much the peacemaker; "it is not his fault, it is not your fault. Be nice to each other. Maybe he will come back. Everything will be fine."
 

powerpuffgrl1969

Active member
You may never really understand the reason for the breakup. HE may never really understand, either. At what point do you just accept it is what it is?
 
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