Exes and Friendship. Does it ever work?

Unless the relationship ended during the the world’s first truly mutual parting, one person has essentially told the other that it’s done. Crawling back right away is a bit pathetic.

Stevie Nicks might be my new hero.

Yes, she has the fierce voice and songs to show it off. She at least used to have the fierce looks in her glory days. And she most definitely has the kind of fierce attitude that I’d like to rock well into my 60s.

In a recent New York Times story, Stevie revealed a lot about what makes her tick and how she looks at the world (hint: with a lot of letting dumb drama roll off of her back). Not only does she use Lady Gaga’s music to fuel dance romps around her apartment that conjure up happiness—as I do—but she fosters a healthy attitude about being blissfully independent and never marrying:

In the last 10 years I’ve just said I’m going to follow my muse.
If I want to go somewhere I don’t have to worry about anyone being mad at me.
I don’t have to make up excuses on the phone about why I’m not coming home.
If it were to happen to me I’d be thrilled.
But when I’m 90 years old and sitting in a gloriously beautiful beach house somewhere on this planet with five or six Chinese Crested Yorkies, surrounded by all my goddaughters who will at that point be middle-aged, I’ll be just as happy.

As famous as the diva singer became for her mane of blonde locks she was probably more known for the comingling between members of her longtime band Fleetwood Mac. She reportedly got busy with Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood, who later married and divorced a backup singer. And before you knew it, practically everyone had hooked up with everyone else in a “Melrose Place”-style show of incest well before Amanda Woodward was closing the blinds to initiate angry sex with underlings or throwing drinks in other females’ faces.

Yet when Stevie talks about her past relationships now, she’s civil. Apparently, at least when it comes to her and Mick, the trouble’s in the rear view mirror. The tumultuous exes are, in fact, buddies, in each others’ lives in a seemingly healthy way.

My question is: Bloody how?

I don’t mean to imply that I’ll go all “Waiting to Exhale” on any of my exes, setting their cars ablaze and walking off with flames artfully raging behind me. But to call us amigos is a stretch. I tend to think most people fall in my camp, compartmentalizing periods of their life to not get lost in the past.

Men who I’ve dated I wish well. We didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean, though, that they should flail, fail or otherwise struggle. Am I anxious to go to their weddings, meet up regularly or have tea? Hell no.

Perhaps that’s OK. Or perhaps I need to take a page from Stevie.

I know for sure that the immediate period post-breakup should consist of going on separately, preferably without any contact whatsoever. For anyone who’s ever tried to transition to friends too quickly, they know that it doesn’t work. Unless the relationship ended during the the world’s first truly mutual parting, one person has, essentially, told the other that it’s done. Crawling back right away is about the same as saying, “I don’t accept that. I’ll stay around you, and you’ll realize we should be a couple.” It’s a teensy bit pathetic.

If the breakup initiator is the one trying to turn the pairing into an immediate friendship, well that’s just plain cruel. The message there: “You’re not good enough to be my mate, but I guess you can be my platonic buddy who I let hang around me.” 

Ouch. I’ve been in both camps.

What’s the right amount of time, then, to go from not speaking to exes to becoming legit friends? Can ex-lovers even become functioning friends at all?

Judging by a recent episode of “New Girl,” the answer is never and no. Jess, initially, believes she and an ex—played by Adam Brody as a stay-at-home dad with not much of his own life—have found the elusive post-dating friendship. But things go awry when he suddenly—and creepily, in its repetition—declares his love and how he’ll leave his wife for Jess. And, as it turns out, Nick’s earlier assessment is the correct one.

In his words, “Men don’t talk to people they’ve dated unless they want sex, or they’re Winston.”

My exes are, to be fair, my Facebook friends. I have a general sense that they’re not in prison or, if their “About me” sections are to be believed, they’re not working for the Mob. Occasionally, I’ll confess, it’s nice to check in on them, particularly in a nonconfrontational virtual manner. That’s pretty much where I leave it, however. I guess my thinking is that, if we had something truly special, we’d still be together, right?

Or, if things get too weird, maybe I can round them up and send ‘em to Texas together.

Sorry, Stevie. I’m not quite at your level yet.

-Dena

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