The friendships we queer women have with our exes can be some of the best relationships in our lives… But if we’re not careful, relationships with exes can also be some of the most toxic.
It’s important for us to be able to recognize the difference between a beautiful friendship and a toxic one, both for analyzing our own connections with our exes, and also in order to accurately figure out what’s going on between the women we date and their exes.
Because if a woman we start dating has a toxic relationship with one of her exes, we need to be able to see that early on as a major red flag. But if we start dating someone who has a beautiful relationship with one of her exes (even though that could easily trigger some of our deep insecurities) we have to check our jealousy so that we avoid making ourselves look bad and burning bridges with someone important.
So this is a big deal.
When we remain close friends with one of our exes after we’ve dated, she tends to feel more like a family member than a friend.
Since we’re already deeply invested in each other’s well-being, we “relate” in a way that is far deeper than most friends. We can literally become “related” (so to speak…)
And sometimes we can form “extended families” with our exes and their exes.
I dated my ex Gwendolyn for four years. She dated Kristin before she dated me.
Now Gwendolyn is one of my best friends. And when we go out together, usually it’s the three of us, me Gwendolyn and Kristin.
Kristin and I never dated, but we are still “related” to each other because we are both Gwendolyn’s exes.
I love going places with them, because it feels like we are on the same team, in a very deep way. Plus they’re so much fun.
I have a friend named Carrie who I dated for a little while, about ten years ago.
Back then, Carrie’s group of friends included a few of her exes, and they were always around.
But these exes were all awesome and welcoming to me, so having them around made dating Carrie even more fun.
I’m still friends with Carrie, and I’m still friendly with all those exes of hers.
I knew that Caro (my most recent girlfriend) and Romina (her high school girlfriend) would always have some lingering feelings for each other… But instead of feeling resentful, I was honestly just grateful for Romina, because she was there to take care of Caro back when I simply couldn’t, because they were together before I knew who either of them were, when I was living in another country, speaking another language…
Romina still lives in that other country, and Caro and I went to visit her there for a few weeks… And when we said goodbye to Romi at the end of the trip, I was the one crying, not them.
It’s important for our partners to have good friends they can turn to in life, even if it’s one of their exes.
Why choose jealousy when we can choose gratitude instead?
When someone we’re dating has a good relationship with one of her exes, the best thing we can do is celebrate their friendship and join the fun.
Exes can be the most loyal, supportive, and loving friends in the world. They are the kinds of allies that we can truly lean on when life gets hard.
So if our partner has a strong friendship with one of her exes, that can be a precious gift and a “win” for both of us.
It can be very easy to feel threatened and jealous if someone we’re falling for is close with one of their exes. (Especially in those early days, before the foundation of our relationship is solidified.)
But jealousy is not hot.
Jealousy turns people off, and misplaced jealousy is poison.
There’s no way to completely eliminate the feeling of jealousy from our lives. But jealousy should really be a temporary feeling, if anything.
Because when we feel jealous it means either we’re overreacting or there’s something inappropriate that’s triggering us.
If our insecurities cause us to overreact, that means we need to learn to have a better relationship with jealousy (which takes practice and self-awareness and a willingness to self-examine uncomfortable emotions.)
But if we’re triggered because we see a red flag, then instead of staying jealous and hurt, the right thing to do is take action.
Because it’s always a mistake to ignore red flags.
While friendships with good exes are a blessing, relationships with toxic exes are an absolute curse.
When we try to date a woman who has an unhealthy/inappropriate relationship with one of her exes, at some point we’re going to get hurt. That’s just an inevitable fact.
If we want to have happy love in this lifetime, then it is our responsibility to get rid of toxic exes from our own lives, and to avoid dating women who have toxic exes in theirs.
There are no exceptions to this rule.
Letting go of toxic exes isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Because we are loving people. And loving people are good at loving.
We’re protective towards the people we love, and we focus on what’s good about them (and the more we love them, the more we excuse/overlook the negative.)
You’re that kind of person, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this right now.
And part of the reason why toxic exes are so toxic is because they know how to take advantage of our goodness, and they know how to keep their “claws” stuck in us.
When we love someone, we don’t want to lose them, and we don’t want to abandon them.
But unfortunately we don’t have a choice. Because the cost of keeping a toxic ex around is way too high.
As much as we love other people, we have to love ourselves first. And loving ourselves the right way means drawing appropriate boundaries and keeping ourselves safe from people who are bad for us.
As scary as it might feel to let go of toxic exes (or to let go of women we are falling for who have toxic exes), there is truly nothing to fear.
Yes, it’s scary to let go of people we feel attached to, but fears are lies.
When we let go of people, the fear that comes up is that we’ll never find anyone to replace them and we’ll be left alone and our hearts will be lonely.
But that’s a lie.
The honest truth is that you WILL have amazing love in this lifetime, as long as you let it happen.
Love is real.
And this world is full of beautiful, open-hearted queer women who are capable of loving just as deeply as you are. And when the right one finally shows up in your life at the right time, she’ll be just as excited to meet you as you are to meet her.
The only thing that can keep us from finding the love we long for in this lifetime is either self-sabotage or wasting time on the wrong women. And toxic exes are both of those things.
Toxic exes (and women we date who have toxic exes) waste our time, and we sabotage ourselves when we don’t keep them out of our lives.
So be brave about letting go of toxic exes, and be brave about open-heartedly appreciating and accepting the wholesome exes who might still be in the lives of new women we date.
If you ever want to talk to me one-on-one about any of the challenges you’re facing in dating or love, I offer individual coaching, and you can learn more about that HERE .
And until next time, just keep remembering that hot lesbians are everywhere, that love is real, and that the woman of your dreams is on her way into your life in perfect timing.
Wishing you all the love and happiness you can handle,