So your new boyfriend is besties with his ex. That can be tricky, but it's definitely not time to hit the panic button. Real, non-romantic friendships can totally form out of the ashes of a past relationship. If you're wondering, "Should your boyfriend be friends with his ex?" well, consider my story.
Shortly after my partner and I moved in together, we had a house guest. One of my best friends needed a place to crash for a few weeks while he hunted for a new apartment. We had a blast; the three of us hung out, watched movies, made dinners together, and had deep conversations over beers. Just your usual house guest antics.
Oh, did I mention this house guest also happens to be my ex?
Yep, my ex-turned-best-bud shared a roof with my new partner and not only was it not awkward, it was actually fun. At the end of his stay, my ex told me, "I like you Rach, but I think like your boyfriend even more." He was kidding (I hope), but I got the point: They had formed a real friendship, too. I couldn't have been happier.
Unfortunately, not every ex/new BF situation can be as amicable as ours, but it works because the friendship is so totally platonic for both me and my ex. My partner is comfortable because not only can he see that were just buds with his own eyes, but because I've made it clear with both words and actions.
So how do you separate my kind of story from one that has a much less happy ending (for you)? I would start by asking your partner about the friendship. They may be able to reassure you just by explaining the dynamic. But if you still have a suspicion there might be some lingering feelings, ask yourself the following questions to help you decide if your SO is just friends with their ex, or if it's time to worry.
1. How Long Has It Been Since They Broke Up?
The longer it's been since they split, the better. Turning romance into bromance takes time; all the feelings of romance and resentment need to heal and go away, and that just takes a while. Also, the longer it's been, the more evidence that they aren't in any rush to rekindle things.
2. Why And How Did They Break Up?
Almost as important as how long it's been since they split is how and why the broke up. Was it a case of two people growing apart? Or did their ex dump them out of nowhere, totally crushing their heart? The best-case scenario is that they mutually decided to go their separate ways because that's often a sign that they were already headed toward platonics-ville. However, the more brutal the breakup, the more likely there will be unresolved feelings.
This isn't a guarantee that there is cause for concern, but let's call it a yellow flag.
3. Are You Still Friends With Your Exes?
If you are, then you should already know it's totally possible to turn your former flame into a current BFF. Oftentimes, relationships end because you are incompatible, not because you don't like them. In those situations, a friendship is the best form the relationship can take. Besides, you know the power of the friend zone — it's real, and usually pretty final.
4. How Does Your SO Feel About You Being Friends With Your Exes?
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous question. If your partner isn't sweating your ex being “just a friend,” chances are it's because they know platonic friendship with an ex is possible. The time to worry is when they feel strongly that you can't just be friends with an ex — because that could be a case of good ol' projection.
5. Are They Avoiding Committing To You?
Is your partner all in? Or do you get the sense they are holding out for someone else, like their ex? (Whether their unwillingness to lock it down has to do with the ex or not is really irrelevant though. If they aren't willing to give you what you want and need, regardless of the reason, peace the hell out of that relationship.)
6. Does He Talk About Her All The Time?
Does everything seem to remind your partner of their ex? Do all roads lead to memory lane? If so, you in danger, girl, because bae still has it bad for their former love.
7. Do They Compare You To Their Ex?
Do you always feel like there is a third person in your relationship: you, your partner, and their idealized version of their ex against whom all things must be compared and contrasted? Yeah, that's not great. Sounds like they are still caught up, and you should disentangle.
8. When You Are All Together, How Do They Act?
When the three of you are in the same room, what is the vibe like? Does it just feel like old friends hanging out, or is there an atmosphere? How is your partner's behavior? Are they relaxed or flustered? And do you feel like you're welcome, or do you suddenly feel like a third wheel? If so, then maybe you should roll out.
9. Does It Bother Them When Their Ex Moves On Or Has A New Partner?
When word makes it back to your boo that their ex is with someone new, how do they react? If their response is happy or ambivalent, thumbs up. Or do they get upset, annoyed, jealous, or weirdly protective? If the answer is the latter, then things aren't looking so great. Friends are happy for friends when they find love. Jilted crushes, not so much.
10. How Do You Feel About Their Ex?
For better or worse, your partner's friends are going to be your friends, or friendly acquaintances anyway. So how do you feel about this person becoming a part of your circle? They may be the worst, but just possibly, they may be amazing and a new best friend for you, too. Fingers crossed!
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