Working with countless single women as a relationship coach, many tell me they stay connected to various ex-boyfriends. The next step in breaking up in their minds is friendship. Like many online dating experiences, what looks good on paper does not pan out in real life. The real trap is allowing the "friendship" to keep you from being emotionally open and vulnerable to someone new.
From my experience in helping individuals prepare for lasting love, I find it is impossible to attract a lasting, emotionally-healthy and loving relationship when you insist on bringing past relationships along. It is our human nature that feels our loyalties are divided. The intimacy you once shared with your ex, not only physically but emotionally, has a history and it is that connection that makes it difficult for someone else to break into.
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The tendency will be to tell your ex all the intimate, highly personal tidbits about your life because he knows you better (or at least that's what you tell yourself) and leave the more superficial, safer topics to the new guy. Love takes mutual trust, openness and honesty to develop in that important first stage. Having Mr. Backup does not send the message that you are going to give the new guy a fair shot at love. While you may believe this friendship with no attachments is not harmful, emotionally you are saying, "I love you ex-boyfriend who broke my heart" while to Mr. Possible, you're saying, "You're on probation until further notice."
The following are three reasons why I strongly believe the past is best used as a tool for learning and growing. Learn why you attracted your ex and distinguish your relationship pattern so you don't repeat it.
1. Your ex will sabotage your present and future.
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If you are honest with yourself, you know in your heart you still love him—not as a friend, but as someone you would go back to if he only asked. Or the reverse could be true, and you keep him in your life because the feeling of security, his loyalty to you and dependability is reassuring. Some women I coach tell me they feel guilty about accepting dates from other guys, even though they know they are free to do so. They can't understand why they feel as if it is a betrayal to their ex-boyfriend. In my book, What To Look For In A Man, chapter two discusses how to attain true and lasting healing from past relationships. It is a vital factor in learning how to develop a new relationship norm.
2. Eventually, the physical sparks will fly.