Dear Auntie Seraphic,
Is it okay to stay friends with an ex-boyfriend?
Dear Friendly Ex,
Not only is it okay to stay friends with an ex-boyfriend, it can be evidence of virtue. I write as one who crosses the street if she sees an ex-boyfriend walking down her side. This is usually because I behaved abominably while we were dating, or because he behaved abominably while we were dating, or both. The very best of my exes is Volker, and we still correspond occasionally. Volker has a lot of virtue.
There are a few important things to keep in mind in a friendship with an ex. Here they are:
1. Always remember he is your ex. Make sure he is NOT the most important man in your life. Make friends with other men and spend time with your father and brothers, if you have any.
2. Don't force the friendship. I've noticed that my friendships with ex-boyfriends start out intense, and then peter out to occasional coffees or emails. Don't expect too much from an ex-boyfriend. Of course, if the friendship is important to both of you, you should make time for each other. But you know me: I think women are better at that kind of thing.
3. If he gets a new girlfriend, be prepared to hear "see you later". If he gets a wife, be prepared to say "good-bye". It is possible to stay friends with a married man who was once your boyfriend, but most of the time, he just will not have time for you. His wife, unless she too is your friend, may very well count every minute he spends with you a minute he could have spent with her.
If he becomes a priest or brother, he may very well need your friendship, as he regards you as a safe and solid woman friend. Just make sure he is not the most important man in your life.
One problem with a Single girl being friends with consecrated men is that they have a protective vow of celibacy and you don't. Sometimes men in religious life will lean emotionally on a female friend (phone calls, coffee, long confidences) and then, when the woman needs to do a little emotional leaning herself, the men jump right back. Oh no no no no no. That would go against their vow of celibacy, you know. Of course, not ALL men in religious life (and certainly not MY friends in religious life) are like that. But some are. So beware.
Grace and peace,